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  Texas : Features : Humor : Column - "A Balloon In Cactus"

Everybody's Scared of Something

by Maggie Van Ostrand
Maggie Van Ostrand

Comedian Steven Wright, says "I'm not afraid of heights, I'm afraid of widths." Good thing his audiences don't suffer from Geliophobia, a fear of laughter. But there are some people who really are afraid of widths like Oscar-winning actress Kim Basinger. She suffers from agoraphobia, a fear of open spaces.

Fears can arrive in childhood and stay with us all our lives, like Sarah Michelle Gellar's fear of cemeteries (Coimetrophobia) which is tough on her role as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She wouldn't film in a real cemetery; she did do the scenes after they built a cemetery set on the lot.

Keanu Reeves is scared of the dark (Achluophobia), and Woody Allen is scared of just about everything including peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth (Arachibutyrophobia). I didn't make that up.

Monk, a fictional TV detective, has a phobia about everything, with some of the most outstanding being his fear of asymmetrical things (Asymmetriphobia), fear of untidiness (Ataxophobia) and fear of being dirty (Automysophobia). And those are only the ones that begin with A.

Billy Bob Thornton
has some weird phobias, too, like fear of antique furniture. He told Sky News, "I get creeped out and I can't breathe and I can't eat around it. I've had friends tell me that maybe I was beaten to death with an antique chair in a former life." He's also afraid of bold colors, water, and silverware.

Uma Thurman fears confined spaces. About the scene in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 where she is buried alive in a coffin, she told reporters, "There was no acting required. Those were real screams. It was horrific. Nobody wants to live that experience."

Johnny Depp, who often plays characters using bizarre make-up, is frightened of clowns. "Something about the painted face, the fake smile," Depp said in 1999 when he was promoting the film Sleepy Hollow. "There always seemed to be a darkness lurking just under the surface, a potential for real evil."

Other phobias of celebrities:
Tobey "Spiderman" Maguire -- Heights
Matthew McConaughey -- Revolving Doors
Orlando Bloom -- Pigs
Oprah Winfrey -- Chewing Gum
Nicole Kidman -- Butterflies
Scarlett Johnsson -- Cockroaches
Justin Timberlake -- Spiders
Jennifer Love Hewitt -- Monsters under the bed
Christina Ricci -- Gerbils
Colin Farrell -- Flying
Alfred Hitchcock -- Eggs
Pamela Anderson -- Mirrors
Roger 007 Moore -- Guns
Barbra Streisand -- People

Amazing as it sounds, even the father of psychiatry himself, Sigmund Freud, who should have had the healthiest mind of all, suffered from Batonophobia -- a fear of ferns. I didn't make that one up either. It is doubtful his patients knew why all those hanging pots in his office were empty.

We know for sure that Hugh Hefner does not suffer from Caligynephobia -- fear of beautiful women, but probably suffers from Cacophobia -- fear of ugliness. And it's highly unlikely that John Travolta has Chorophobia, a fear of dancing, or he would've turned down Saturday Night Fever and Grease.

Not to make light of such psychic terror, they're all real enough, but just to point out the most unusual:

MEDICAL TERM --- FEAR OF
Alektorophobia --- Chickens
Alliumphobia --- Garlic
Allodoxaphobia --- Onions
Anablephobia --- Looking up
Anthophobia --- Flowers
Anuptaphobia --- Staying single
Aulophobia --- Flutes
Barophobia --- Gravity
Bibliophobia --- Books
Blennophobia/Myxophobia --- Slime
Catagelophobia/Katagelophobia --- Ridicule
Cathisophobia/Thaasophobia --- Sitting
Chaetophobia/Trichophobia --- Hair
Cnidophobia/Linonophobia --- String
Dendrophobia --- Trees
Dextrophobia --- Objects to the right of the body
Enetophobia --- Pins
Epistemphobia --- Knowledge
Eremophobia --- Oneself
Euphobia --- Hearing good news
Geniophobia --- Chins
Genuphobia --- Knees
Hagiophobia --- Saints or holy things
Hedonophobia --- Pleasure
Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia --- Long words.
Ichthyophobia --- Fish
Ideophobia --- Ideas
Koinoniphobia --- Rooms
Koniophobia --- Dust
Levophobia --- Objects to the left of the body
Logophobia --- Words
Macrophobia --- Waiting
Melophobia --- Music
Mnemophobia --- Memories
Namatophobia/Onomatophobia --- Names
Nostophobia --- Returning home
Octophobia --- The figure 8
Ouranophobia/Uranophobia --- Heaven
Papyrophobia --- Paper
Philophobia --- Love
Phobophobia --- Phobias
Plutophobia --- Wealth
Porphyrophobia --- The color purple
Pteronophobia --- Being ticked by feathers
Xanthophobia --- The color yellow, or the word yellow

There's even a medical term for people with as many fears as Woody Allen's: Panophobia -- fear of everything.

Your comments are welcome.
Email: maggie@maggievanostrand.com


Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In Cactus"
April 7, 2008 column
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