Who’s Afraid of . . . ?

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What scares you the most?

If you’re like most Americans, it’s public speaking according to the Washington Post. A study of American Fears by Chapman University, ranked public speaking number one. This ties in with a poll done by the Australian Broadcasting Company that ranked social phobias as the number one fear world wide. Yet polls done by Fearof.net, Yahoo, Thetoptens.com place spiders as our number one fear.

I am not in love with spiders, though I appreciate their role in the environmental chain and their efficiency in killing mosquitos. Still, there is something startling about waking up in the middle of night to go to bathroom only to find a fat, black spider waiting for you in the sink. I live in the woods. We get spiders. I’d much rather give a talk than face a room filled with spiders, but I digress.

I looked over a variety of surveys and compiles a very unscientific list of the top fears. Some are pretty obvious, but a few are quite fascinating.

  1. Social phobias (including Xenophobia or fear of strangers). This disorder can become so crippling that people who suffer from it will not eat or talk in front of strangers.
  2.  Arachnophobia РFear of spiders.
  3.  Ophidiophobia РFear of snakes. Scientists believe this may be hardwired into people because early hunter/gatherer societies had to be wary of snakes as they foraged for food sources.
  4. Agoraphobia – Fear of open spaces. People with this disorder may become so panicked at the thought of leaving their homes that they become physically ill.
  5.  Acrophobia РFear of heights. Some scientists believe fear of heights is related to fear of the edge. People with this fear typically perceive buildings as being taller than they actually are.
  6. Claustrophobia – Fear of enclosed spaces. Elevators can wreck havoc for people afflicted with this fear.
  7. Aerophobia -Fear of flying. It’s not just the title of a book. Many people would rather drive than take to the skies.
  8. Cynophobia – Fear of dogs. Man’s best friend generally ranks surprisingly high on most fear lists.
  9. Astrophobia – Fear of storms. Given such storms as Katrina and Sandy, perhaps this is not such an unreasonable fear.
  10. Tyctohylophobia – Fear of the dark. Scientist believe this fear may be linked to insomnia. Approximately half of insomniacs suffer from fear of the dark as opposed to a quarter of non-insomniacs.

Just missing the top ten but very close are:

  1. Typophobia – Fear of holes (as in Swiss cheese or bee hives). Strange but true.
  2. Coulrophobia – Fear of clowns. Steven King tapped into something very real.
  3. Mysophobia – Fear of germs. This phobia may tie in with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

It seems the more television you watch, the more fearful you will be. Or perhaps more fearful people watch television. You never know. Also, Americans are more afraid of clowns than ghosts, but they fear zombies even more. Worldwide, clowns still win the fear factor.

So, what scares you?

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