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Top 10 Unbearable Phobias

by Josiah Plummer
fact checked by Alex Hanton

Everyone has a fear of some sort, but not all of us suffer from the type of pathological fear called a “phobia.” Some phobias are well known, such as agoraphobia, which is the fear of being in an open area or in a large crowd, and Thanatophobia, which is the fear of death. (I think we can all relate to the latter.) There are other phobias that are just plain bizarre; for instance, arachibutyrophobia, which is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth. This list, however, is devoted to those phobias that seem inherently unbearable. In other words, fears that fundamentally affect a sufferer’s quality of life to an extreme extent. While perusing the list, let’s keep in mind that there are real people suffering from these phobias; understanding the phobias themselves will allow us to understand (and sympathize with) the tribulations of the sufferers.



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“The fear of walking or standing.”

Imagine the implications of such a fear: the mere thought of standing or walking around fills you with utter terror. How in the world do you live a normal life? You certainly can’t travel around in a motorized chair all the time. Unfortunately for ambulophobes, human flying has not yet been achieved, either. It would seem that an individual suffering from this devastating phobia would be forced to confront their fear many, many times, every single day of their life. That doesn’t sound like fun.




“The fear of making decisions.”

As you can see, some phobias have profound psychological consequences. If someone is deathly afraid of making a decision, then how do they go about life? Do they instruct others to make a decision for them? Isn’t that a decision in itself? Do they simply follow a real life equivalent of stream-of-consciousness, simply “going with the flow”, and not interfering with the normal course of events? But isn’t THAT a decision, too? Decidophobes must be in a constant state of mental flux; as long as they contemplate a decision, they shouldn’t experience fear. It’s the act of actually making the decision that terrifies them. This essentially means that any sort of personal interaction with the world requires a decidophobe to overcome traumatizing fear.


Epistemophobia (Gnosiophobia)


“The fear of knowledge.”

What? The fear of knowledge? Indeed. No school. No education. No introduction to any new facts of any sort. Developing epistemophobia is akin to placing a cognitive cap on your development. You can’t learn anymore, unless you’re willing to withstand unrelenting terror throughout the entire process, which would obviously impair your ability to even comprehend the new material in the first place.




“The fear of food.”

Let’s perform a quick analysis of this situation: food is required to live. Cibophobes are frightened by food. This means such people have two options: (1) avoid food altogether, thereby killing themselves through malnutrition and dehydration, which is clearly not a viable (or attractive) prospect, or (2) stay alive by eating food and dealing with bone-chilling tremors every time a spoonful of cereal approaches their mouth. Imagine being a cibophobe; maybe you really enjoy macaroni-and-cheese, or bacon-and-cheddar cheeseburgers, or some other delectable dish. Well, now all the enjoyment you get out of those meals is wiped away because you’d be eating them with a touch of pepper, a dash of salt and a dollop of dread.


Somniphobia (Hypnophobia)

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“The fear of sleep.”

Just like the aforementioned phobia, this one involves something that we all need to stay alive: precious shut-eye. But whereas one might be able to go a few days without food, and thereby dampen the effects of cibophobia, it is much harder to remain functional even after a single day of sleepless activity. I can’t even imagine the overall physical and mental fatigue that this phobia causes; if you stay awake, you harm your body physiologically and undermine your brain’s capabilities, but if you try to go to sleep, you’re overwhelmed by fear which may, plausibly, make it impossible to fall asleep, anyway. Certainly a horrible fear for anyone to have to deal with.



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“The morbid fear of sounds, including your own voice.”

We are now moving into the territory of even more bizarrely limiting phobias. How does one live a normal life as an acousticophobe? Do you live in a sound-proof room? Do you walk around with ear plugs? Do you convince a doctor to surgically make you deaf? These all sound like rather drastic decisions, and dangerous ones, to boot, but the other alternative is not very promising: go through life and be horrified by any random noise, whether it’s the slight buzzing of a nearby housefly or the distant rumbling of thunder or the roar of a passing vehicle, or even your own voice. And even if you tried to shield yourself from the terror by covering your ears with your hands, that wouldn’t work; you’d still hear the blood rushing through your head. Scary.




“The fear of the passing of time, or more generally of time itself.”

Stretching this fear to its logical conclusion, one would assume that the fear of time also entails the fear of concepts pertaining to time, such as the past, the present, the future, and words like “later,” “early,” etc. What a horrible existence that would be, eh? Even if chronophobes aren’t afraid of words or ideas pertaining to time, they ARE afraid of time itself and of its passage, and as human beings we are well aware that time is constantly ticking away. Just imagine being a chronophobe, and staring at a watch or one of those old analog clocks with loudly-ticking second hands. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Every passing second reverberates like an earthquake of shock and terror through your soul.



Phobia 1

“The preference by a phobic for fearful situations.”

Re-read that definition. This is an arcane, mind-bending phobia if there ever was one. So, we have a phobic, and this person actually SEEKS OUT those situations or objects that cause them intense discomfort and fear. This may sound like some sort of strange, twisted masochistic syndrome, but it’s thought that counterphobes engage in these activities in an effort to combat their phobia. I’m sure you’ve heard the old maxim advising you to “face your fears.” Well, for a person suffering from a phobia, that advice is a lot easier said than practiced. So counterphobes try to conquer their intense fears by placing themselves in their peculiarly fearful situations, which evidently does not work, so the counterphobe is in a constant oscillating existence of fight-or-flight. Thus, counterphobia takes the standard mental devastation caused by phobias and, just to make things worse, adds in a whole new level of psychological problems. Yeah, not a very nice phobia at all.




“The morbid fear of developing a phobia.”

Again, re-read that definition. Phobophobia is the fear of developing a fear. Well, wait a second – it’s already a fear, so in that case, isn’t phobophobia essentially a self-referential disorder? It would seem so. This is such a ridiculously complicated fear that it seems more like a paradox or brain-teaser than a legitimate fear, which is why I really pity any individuals suffering from it. They fear developing a fear, but they’ve already developed a fear, so phobophobia sort of feeds upon itself in an endless cycle, ad infinitum. Truly, truly disheartening.




“The fear of everything.”

At first, you almost want to laugh at this phobia. “The fear of everything? Really? That’s just absurd.” But then the realization sinks in and you finally understand the gravity of this phobia. Think about it: the fear of EVERYTHING. One source describes this phobia as “a vague and persistent dread of some unknown evil.” So, in a theoretical sense, a pantophobe can go through life in a completely normal way, enjoying themselves, except for the fact that they are haunted by an incessant, unwavering, relentless fear that some universal, esoteric sinister force is out there somewhere. Whereas all the other phobias in this list refer specifically to some cause, this one has been placed in the number one position because it entails a ubiquitous dread: no matter where a pantophobe goes, no matter what he does, every aspect of his life, every thought, every object, every relationship, interaction, environment, and moment is plagued by a nagging thought that an evil force is hovering above his head, following him from behind, closing in on all sides. All the time. Until the day he dies.

fact checked by Alex Hanton