There are estimated to be around 19 million Americans who have some sort of phobia–those persistent and deep-rooted fears of specific places, things, situations, or activities. Some phobias are understandable. Glossophobia (fear of public speaking), arachnophobia (fear of spiders), and acrophobia (a fear of heights) are some of the most common, and all are things that trigger our instinctive fear response to some degree. Others, however, such as anthophobia–the fear of flowers–have no explicable reasoning and seem downright strange. There are hundreds of different types of these irrational fears–some ultra-specific and some broad. From A to Z, here are the weirdest 26 strange phobias you didn’t know about:
Achievemephobia: Fear of Success
It’s pretty commonplace for people to have a fear of failure. Fear of success, however? That’s a lot less relatable. Achievemephobia isn’t so much a fear of succeeding but rather the consequence of such–like the way people will react to it or how the success might cause things to change afterward.
Bananaphobia: Fear of Bananas
It’s hard to imagine that anyone could be afraid of the yellow little fruit that graces smoothies, sundaes, and so much more. They do exist, though. For reasons ranging from the unique gummy, smacking sound bananas make when being chewed to the mushy texture and accompanied imaginings of the squishy mess it would make if mashed–some people find bananas to be a triggering sensory landmine.
Cibophobia: Fear of Food
Some of the strangest phobias are the ones related to things that are essential to existence. But that’s not the only reason why a phobia of food is so odd, it’s also nearly universally regarded as one of the best parts of life. That’s obviously not the case for those with cibophobia, who will avoid restaurants and grocery shopping, as well as eating itself. As a result, this phobia is sometimes mistaken as anorexia.
Deipnophobia: Fear of Eating with Others
Then there are those who enjoy eating but are utterly repulsed at the idea of dining with others or, more specifically, the thought of any sort of conversation.
Euphobia: Fear of Good News
A particularly rare phobia, it’s not so much the fear of good news itself but a fear of the disappointment of not getting good news. Over time, this fear becomes distorted and associated and becomes a fear of hearing good news.
Genuphobia: Fear of Knees
There are a lot of specific body part-related fears–just name it. Eyes, ears, tongues, and even eyelashes are sources of phobias that cause people tremendous distress.
Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia: Fear of the number 666
Individuals who suffer from hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia tend to be highly religious or superstitious. They’ll avoid roads or buildings with the number, be fearful of purchase totals that include $6.66, or refuse credit cards, phone numbers–or any other account numbers that have those digits.
Ideophobia: Fear of Ideas
People with ideophobia aren’t open to new ideas precisely because they fear being taken out of their comfort zone. This phobia is often present in politics and corporate settings where ideas are seen as a threat and interfere with the ability to manipulate and control.
Dikephobia (Fear of Justice)
There aren’t any strange phobias that start with ‘J’, so instead, we’re sharing a phobia of something that starts with it. Not much is known about this phobia of this abstract concept, however, one study found that the inverse, a fear of injustice, was linked to a tendency to externalize problematic behavior.
Koumpounophobia: Fear of Buttons
To some, the small apparatuses that hold shirts closed and pants up are far from innocuous. Instead, they are items that induce dread and disgust. Texture, fear of the germs they carry, or accidentally swallowing one, are the most commonly cited sources of this fear.
Logophobia: Fear of words
Also sometimes described as the fear of medical words (which tend to be quite long), those with logophobia communicate through gestures and drawings. They are also known to be quite literal and either do not understand–or simply have an aversion to– metaphor and other literary devices.
Melophobia: Fear of Music
Music is thought of as the universal language but to some, it’s one that induces tremendous distress. This extremely rare phobia isn’t well understood, however, the cause is believed to be an uncommon sensitivity to changes in pitch and tone.
Numerophobia: Fear of Numbers
Numerophobia can be the fear of numbers in general or of specific numbers. It’s closely related to arithmophobia, the fear of arithmetic, and sometimes stems from the fear of learning math as a young child.
Omphalophobia: Fear of belly buttons
The average person doesn’t give much thought to the small indentations on their abdomen. Those with fears of bully buttons hate seeing or touching belly buttons–both their own and others.
Phobophobia (fear of phobias)
Ironically, there is a fear of fear itself. These individuals typically suffer from multiple phobias and the dread they feel towards those existing phobias can lead to the development of fear as a whole.
Quadrabohbia (Fear of the number 4)
There are several number-specific phobias. Four is an unlucky number in Asian culture and is avoided in hotels and even major retailers.
Rhypophobia (Fear of defecation)
The fear of this unavoidable bodily function is believed to be caused by traumatic potty-related experiences in childhood. Painful constipation that warrants medical extraction or hemorrhoids can cause individuals to hold their bowel movements for as long as possible (not recommended) or to constantly take stool softeners or laxatives.
Sesquipedalophobia (fear of long words)
Another ironic phobia, this mouthful is the fear of long words as a result of anxiety of being embarrassed when reading or pronouncing them. The alternative name for this phobia, hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, is even longer!
Textophobia (Fear of certain fabrics)
This phobia is believed to be an aversion to certain textiles due to physical discomfort, such as a rash or being itchy, that evolves to induce feelings of panic at the mere thought of them. Physically interacting with a disliked fabric type may elicit a physical reaction similar to that of food like gagging and vomiting.
Uranophobia (Fear of sky)
Also known as a fear of heaven, uranophobia is tied to the fear of judgment after death and is closely related to thanatophobia, the fear of dying.
Venustraphobia: Fear of Beautiful Women
There’s a fear of women in general; (gynophobia), and then there’s the ultra-specific fear of beautiful women. This is closely linked to worries of being humiliated.
Walloonphobia (Fear of Walloons)
Walloons are an ethnic group from a tiny region of Belgium and Walloon is also the name of the language they speak.
Xanthophobia (Fear of the color yellow)
For whatever reason, yellow seems to be one of the more common of (highly unusual) color-related phobias. Perhaps stranger still is the fear of color in general, known as chromatophobia.
Yotaphobia (Fear of the letter ‘y’)
Not much is known about this phobia, but it seems pretty insensitive that this phobia includes the offending letter.
Zemmiphobia (Fear of naked mole rats)
To be fair, these rodents are pretty unnerving to look at; hairless, wrinkly, and virtually eyeless. Still, these underground dwellers are rather uncommon and only native to eastern Africa. Closely related is zoophobia, a general fear of animals.
Phobias are a recognized form of mental illness that can be hugely debilitating to a person’s day-to-day life. Fortunately, as is the case with other mental illnesses, going to a mental health rehab and seeking treatment can make these phobias more bearable and less disruptive.