10 of the most unusual phobias
10 of the most unusual phobias

10 of the most unusual phobias

10 of the most unusual phobias.

Many of us feel uncomfortable around certain objects, situations or animals. We might not like spiders or elevators, but we can tolerate them. We might detest public speaking, but we can do it when we have to.

However, for some of us, a certain thing or situation causes so much fear that we go to great lengths to avoid it and our lives suffer as a consequence. In this case, we may have a specific phobia.

Illustration of pin about to pop balloon
Illustration by Joseph Moore

Now, a phobia of spiders (arachnophobia), elevators (elevatophobia) or public speaking (glossphobia) is fairly common, but a few people suffer from truly unusual phobias. Here are 10 phobias you probably never knew existed.

  1. Ablutophobia: Fear of bathing. Though uncommon in adults, many toddlers experience bathing fears for a few weeks or months as part of their development. In adults, ablutophobia may be related to early water-related trauma and can cause social problems due to hygiene issues.
  2. Eisoptrophobia: Fear of mirrors. This one may stem from superstitious ideas about mirrors, self-image issues, or scenes from horror movies (Candyman or “redrum” anyone?).
  3. Chaetophobia: Fear of hair. People with this phobia often fear other people’s hair and sometimes even animal hair. They may avoid people with thick, curly locks or simply fear loose, stray hair. Some may believe hair is dirty and that contact with it might make them sick. Others develop this phobia after struggling with scalp issues or hair loss.
  4. Linonophobia: Fear of string. Sadly, this may result from having been tied up against one’s will. People may experience extreme fear of yarn, rope, shoe laces and other materials resembling string.
  5. Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia: Fear of long words. Whoever coined this term had a “fun” sense of humor. Also known as sesquipedalophobia, this fear may be better accounted for by social phobia because it often involves fear of embarrassing oneself when pronouncing long words.
  6. Omphalophobia: Fear of belly buttons. People with this fear may avoid the beach, swimming pools or other places where exposure is likely. In severe cases, they may cover up their own belly buttons with tape or bandages.
  7. Lachanophobia: Fear of vegetables. No, this doesn’t describe your five-year-old who pushes broccoli around on their plate until you offer dessert. People with this phobia may endure extreme anxiety when seeing or even just thinking about vegetables.
  8. Trypophobia: Fear of closely packed holes – think bubble wrap, honeycombs, seed pods, etc. Some research suggests that this may be less about fear of holes and more about an unconscious association between harmless objects with dangerous animals because they share certain features.
  9. Globophobia: Fear of balloons. This phobia often develops from past experiences with popped balloons or traumatic events involving loud “popping” sounds. As Oprah Winfrey told O magazine in October 2013, being around balloons, “really freaks me out.” She reasoned, “I don’t like them because it reminds me of gunfire.”
  10. Nomophobia: Fear of being without a phone. This is one most of us can relate to, though we probably don’t experience intense and persistent anxiety about the mere idea of being without a phone, having a dead battery or having no cell service. The name is another example of someone being “funny.” If you don’t catch the joke, here’s a hint: “mo” is for mobile.

Fortunately, specific phobias are highly treatable. If you or someone you love suffers from extreme anxiety related to a specific phobia or other situation, contact Athena Care for mental health services in Tennessee. One of our care coordinators will help you get the help you need.

Photo of Rachel Swan
Rachel Swan, MS

Rachel has a Masters of Science in Clinical Psychology from Vanderbilt University, where she spent 16 years as a Research Analyst in the Psychology and Human Development Department.