receive a lot of email regarding phobias. The first thing I would like
to say is, "I am not an expert on phobias. I just have the list."
Having said that, I'd like to use this page to share some of the
questions I receive, give a little credit, and say whatever else comes
to my mind. | Credits | Whatever |
Most of the questions I
receive are in the form of, "looking for the name of this phobia."
Sometimes I can help, sometimes I have no idea. - Most
Wanted List...Phobias we want to name -
You may want to read this before you propose a name.
Some of these may fall under
- Fear of feet. This one gets a lot of responses and the most
common is 'Podophobia.' If someone has the reference for it, let me
- Fear of suicide.
- Fear of toy balloons.
- Fear of
- Fear of sales people.
- Fear of taking the cotton out of
a medicine bottle and also the fear of those little cotton balls. My
- Fear of talking animals. I have no
idea...although many people have offered 'MrEdophobia.'
- Fear of
- Fear of bats.
- Fear of the keyboard. Hmm.
- Fear of
underwear. Fruitoftheloomophobia. (Being facetious again)
- Fear of driving on the highway. City driving
is ok, it's just the highway that's a problem. This one seems to be
- Fear of losing a limb; arm, leg, etc.
- Fear of midgets or
dwarfs. Should that be dwarves?
thanks to these publications and people:
Mrs. Byrnes Dictionary. ISBN
Roget's Thesaurus. ISBN 0-690-00010-3
Random House College Dictionary. ISBN 0-394-43500-1
House Unabridged Dictionary. ISBN 0-679-42917-4
The Merck Manual.
The Encyclopedia of Phobias, Fears and
Anxieties. ISBN 0-8160-1798-0
The Book of Lists.
Taber's Cyclopedic Medical
The New York Times
The People's Almanac Presents the Book of Lists
Urie (that crazy Scotsman)
Robert G. Haining
Wife of T. R. Warren
Culbertson. My newfound cousin.
William Ashley Stein
Andrew V. Funk
Russell W. DeGarmo
Mary Tossell BS MS RN
P. Windsor IV
Sara and .D.A.V.I.D.
Robert R. Rainey, Jr.
Stephen M. Clark
Jan P. Kraft (Normande)
Mark & Susan Smith
reason, by far, the most requested phobia name not on the list (...see
conclusion below ) is the fear of clowns. A number of students seem to
be doing a paper on it, universities seem to be interested in it, as are
public libraries. I know that Pasquale in the cartoon "Rose is Rose"
has a phobia about clowns; perhaps that's where some of the interest
lies. Many people seem to think that it comes from the Stephen King
movie "It". Having not seen the movie, I can't say. I did see a little
girl at her birthday party go into hysterics when Barney showed up in
"real" life, yet he was her favorite thing on TV. Are there a lot of
people that are afraid of clowns, and why? (besides the fact that
they're ugly) Don't they do FUNNY things that make us laugh? I am
still searching for the name of clown phobia, but also I am seeking the
cause of so much interest in it. Anyone have any theories?
the update and conclusion........sort of There have been a
number of offerings for the name of "Clown Phobia", some serious and
some not so serious . I've run them by the experts and one by one
they've been offed. The best suggestion and the one that I've decided
to use is Coulrophobia. It too has been declared "not quite correct",
but...since it is used by doctors, I've decided that until further
review, it makes the list. Many thanks to everyone who has assisted in
this search and particularly to John Dyson, who has shown great patience
with all my questions. He has given me the classical Greek meaning for
Koulon: "Koulon" is classical Greek for "limb" (i.e., leg, arm,
etc.). There are several terms that include it. One of them means
"stilts" and another means "stilt-walker." Not quite the meaning
we were looking for, but until further notice...coulrophobia it is. ----
Thanks to Dave Coverly for letting me post his Speed Bump cartoon.
I received this email and thought the writer has an interesting view of
"I read with great interest the information on your website as a link
to a physiological psychology textbook by Carlson. I have a theory
about the reason for fearing clowns that I thought I would suggest to
you. Because clowns have permanent, exaggerated expressions painted on
their faces - usually of joy but not always, it renders the observer
impotent in measuring facial expression as a precurser of action and for
those who are vigilent about their environment, possibly because of past
traumatic events, they are unable to interpret and therefore predict
what this creature may do to them. This is heightened when we observe
the "happy" clown performing some aggressive behavior - it becomes too
much to take - creating intense confusion and fear. I don't know if
this is the reason - simply my first thoughts on a very intriguing
subject. It would be interesting if there were any confirmation." Kathryn Cillick ----
I found this quote in an interview with Anton Adassinski by Ismene Brown
regarding clowns. Adassinski is the founder of the cult Russian clown
Brown: "What qualities make a good clown? Come to
that, what is a clown?"
Adassinski: "Some people say you can't
learn to be a clown, you have to be born one. I don't believe that. I
was born a normal man, I just learned it from Slava, and proved it for
myself. If you work very hard in any direction, you have a result.
But what is a clown? It's not my words, but I will say what they say in
Russia. There is one string between universal chaos and our planet, a
string that is laughter. When you laugh, you connect yourself again with
chaos. Which is why when we find something funny the body suddenly moves
in this uncontrollable way. The clown is the person who can pull the
string and turn the universe upside down and show people there is
another way to live, another magic reality."
---- One of the
most submitted phobia names is Aibohphobia, the fear of Palindromes. As
clever as it is, I have yet to add it to the list since I haven't been
able to find it in a reference book. Also, I can't figure that anyone
would acutally be so afraid of a palindrome that they would break into a
sweat. That's not to say that it hasn't happened, but until I see
someone cringing at the sight of one or I find a reference to it, it's
off the list. ----
The latest craze seems to be wanting to find the name for the fear of
elevators. No, it's not on the list. I don't know where this started
but it seems that nearly one third of my email is in the pursuit of this
elusive phobia name. Of all the names, the two best I've heard are
'Otisophobia' and, of course, 'Elevatorophobia.' I don't know how this
will end or if there's even someone out there that has the name (and a
good reference for it!) but something will have to give. ----
What is the thing with midgets and dwarfs?
I keep getting the
request for this fear over and over. I don't have the name for this
phobia so I have added it to the most wanted list. ----
I finally broke down and nabbed the domain name for the Phobia List.
Moving the site is a job that I've been dreading but it's time to do it.
If you run across a link to it at it's old site, would you please
inform the webmaster at the linking site? The new address is:
Yes, a phobia can exist and not be on the list. And also...yes,
I have phobias...the first one to come to mind is stage fright or public
speaking or performing in front of others. The fine line between
fear and hatred is often encountered in dealing with these
names. Homophobes usually aren't as afraid of homosexuals as that they
hate them and xenophobes often hate and fear foreigners so, one
could use hatred with the names also.
Perhaps it's easier for
some people to admit that they hate something rather than they're afraid
of it? ----
I receive a lot of email concerning the legitimacy of
Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia. This is my most recent reply:
...hippo is Greek for horse....as in hippopotamus which is 'river
horse.' If someone calls a person a hippo, it usually means they are
big. Monstro comes from monstrous, Latin for monstrosity - again big.
And sesquipedalian means given to using long words...comes from latin
meaning measuring a foot and a half - also big. You can find
hippopotomonstrosesquidedalian in The Word Lover's Dictionary by
Josefa Heifetz, ISBN 0-8065-1720-4. ( one of my favorite books )
found hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia in a medical paper.
This word was coined incorrectly using Greek and Latin but it's a real
word none the less, much like many words we use daily in our American
English language. Television is another - tele, Greek for far and
vision, Latin for seeing. This leads me to thinking of the two
approaches to writing a dictionary. One can say, "This is what this
word means," or one can say, "This is what people mean when they use
this word." These are two entirely different ideas and it creates a
problem for anyone attempting to define anything. ----