We’ve all heard of common fears — such as a fear of darkness, clowns, ghosts, heights, or spiders. However, other phobias exist that may initially seem strange, but millions of people are actually walking around each day suffering from these seemingly odd fears.
Trypophobia: Fear of Small Holes
Not only does this fear include small holes, it also encompases irregular patterns. Just like any other fear, trypophobia may have varying degrees of severity in those affected. Some folks seem to be more affected by classically “creepy” images in which the holes appear on animals or human skin. On the other hand, countless individuals endure such a crippling fear of holes that even small bubbles in a piece of chocolate is enough to make their skin crawl.
The gravity of this fear was not solidified until the last 10 years or so. Pictures of strange objects with irregular holes became an internet sensation, starting around 2009. In the following few years, it became extremely apparent that this wasn’t just a “joke” fear. What originally seemed to be an internet phenomenon, was quickly realized to be a serious phobia among the world’s population – 16% of everyone on the planet to be exact.
Scientists have also found that there might be a significant reason that so many people share this phobia. A study performed in 2010 concluded that humans share this fear as an evolutionary trait. People affected by the fear may subconsciously connect their fear of holes to imaginary lesions, bumps, or holes in human skin. Researchers say this is done in an attempt to avoid serious injury, sickness, and disease. Although, it’s safe to say that a fear of household sponges or bubbles in our morning pancakes might be taking it a little bit too far.
Ornithophobia: Fear of Birds
An intense fear of ravens, vultures, and falcons has stemmed from the macabre portrayal of birds in books and cinema. For hundreds of years birds have been seen as a sign of bad fortune, sickness, and death. Specifically for their impressive intelligence, ravens have been written as tricksters, thieves, and deceivers.
All of the aforementioned birds also happen to be scavengers, which means they feed on the carcasses of deceased animals. In early Christian lore, this is a sign of ill-fortune. In conjunction with a raven’s black color, (which also signified evil in early Christianity) these birds were thought to be the messengers of the dead. Some believed that after death the soul was taken by a crow and delivered to the next life. Others went as far as seeing carnivorous birds as demons and witches incarnate. In addition, both the black plague and avian flu have targeted birds and rodents as a cause of the devastating epidemics. As such, people throughout the world see all birds as filthy, disease-carrying animals.
Fear of illness, traditions, and superstitions are still alive in some, but for others it may be as simple as a past traumatic experience with an aggressive bird. The fear may range from a disgust in all birds, to intense fright of all avian animals; no matter how small. Although less than the other fears on this list, this phobia still affects over 3 million people in the US. Let’s just say that these folks won’t be buying a parakeet anytime soon.
Dentophobia: Fear of Dentists
Surprisingly enough, having a fear of dentists is much more common than the fear of doctors or hospitals. Even though it seems apparent enough that a doctor would realistically be able to physically do more damage to our bodies, there is just something undoubtedly creepy about someone poking around in your mouth. If we really think about it, a surgery performed by a doctor versus a dentist is much more life-threatening.
Perhaps it could be for the fact that dentists commonly put their patients under anesthesia or maybe because of those tiny sharp tools that they use. Although, the same could be said for doctors. So, why is this such a common fear? Well, most of those recorded with a fear of dentists say it stems from frightful childhood memories. Strange smells, sounds, and pain can trigger a lifelong fear of simple teeth cleanings.
Whatever the case may be, an astounding amount of people across the world are affected by this strange fear. Studies show that anywhere between 9% and 15% of Americans are severely affected by this fear. So much so that many of them avoid going to the dentist altogether. That equates to about 30 – 40 million people in the United States alone that would rather skip a trip to their local dentist. Here’s to hoping they all stay cavity-free.
Severe cases of any phobia can produce drastic symptoms including increased heartbeat, sweating, tremors, trouble breathing, and nausea. Currently, about 4.1% of Americans are classified as having debilitating or severe anxiety. What’s more, many of these cases, about 11% of them, show the first signs in children around the age of 11 or older. Of course there are exceptions to these statistics, but all in all diagnosed phobias and anxiety are quite common in the US and across the world. It’s important to note that even if a fear is less common than others, there is still hope for treatment. If a phobia is taking control over your everyday happiness, it’s time to seek professional help.