Curious Phobias & Irrational Fears


Gone But Not Forgotten
Aug 9, 2005
Apologies if there's another thread that covers this - I looked but couldn't see one!

I was talking to my housemates about their phobias - not the usual things like fear of heights, but objects, noises, smells, sensations that trigger a genuine fear.

Personally, I don't think I've encountered anything that I have an irrational fear of, quite unlike my housemates.
One cannot be in the same room if I'm sharpening a knife on a steel - fairly mundane compared to the girls.

Girl A hates seeing someone touch, rub their feet on, or rub anything else against carpet. I only discovered this after getting a dustpan and brush to sweep up a spilt ashtray - she went bright red and started cringing on the sofa! Even the noise was torturing the poor girl.

Girl B wouldn't tell us what her special fear is - until I brought home of the Direct Line Red telephones from work (a neglected prop from our basement many years old now) and BINGO that's the trigger. Something to do with the old school handsets I think, but she won't even talk about it! She had to leave the room - even though the phone stayed in a cardboard box.

So I was just wondering - who else has a completely irrational fear of an otherwise mundane experience?

edited by TheQuixote: altered thread title
A former roommate of mine would always ask me to take the cotton out of her pill bottles. I remember seeing her cringe, turn and run out of the room as I did this. She hated cotton!
I have a strange phobia myself. I have a complete fear of pickles. I will not even eat at a resteraunt that serves them. Many people ask me if I was tourmented with them when i was young, but no, i was just always like that. When I was starting to eat solid foods, my mom offered me one, but i screamed and cried until she took it away. She tried once more the next day, but it still caused me to get very upset. I cannot even feel comfortable in a room with them. Its such a stupid fear.... :oops:
My bro has some phobias that are not only a bit weird but also his reactions to them sometimes takes the biscuit.

He is really phobic about gherkins and cucumbers. When I was younger, I *decorated* his bedroom door with cucumber (mashed and sliced - sticks like glue). He beat several shades of crap out of me as he couldn't even bear to touch the doorhandle to get into his room. His toddler has twigged onto his phobia and when she has cucumber (she loves it) she'll either wave it in his direction or throw it at him. He also can't eat any food that may have once touched either a cucumber or a gherkin.

We've also taught her to throw her Disney *Grumpy* Dwarf at him as he also shudders and screams like a girl at garden gnomes and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He'll actually retch if you take the toy dwarf close by him.

Girl A hates seeing someone touch, rub their feet on, or rub anything else against carpet.

I'm like this, I hate the sound of dry skin rubbing against rough or *bobbly* fabric. The sound of the skin catching/rubbing against dralon sofa arms, fleecy coats etc. make me feel sick.

My *curious* phobia is that I'm phobic about dolphins and whales. The sounds and noises they make unease me.
TheQuixote said:
My *curious* phobia is that I'm phobic about dolphins and whales. The sounds and noises they make unease me.

Ohhh.. oh ho... you can't trick me into disclosing that one on here.
TheQuixote said:
Ohhh.. oh ho... you can't trick me into disclosing that one on here.

You sure?

I Used to have a phobia of snail/slugs! :lol:

I just hated the thought of them touching me since they're so slimy.
Oh okay, it's...

Bill Oddie

it's not that I dislike him as such but a friend had a running joke in which she would text me that Bill Oddie was on his way over to my house to do unspeakable things to my skull.

Yes, she is still my friend and I do love her dearly but it has left me mentally scarred. *puts hand to forehead and swoons*

Joking aside, it's true. I can't even look at Bill Oddie now without thinking of what she used to text me. What he'd get up to when he'd got to my door...
My dad has a phobia of chickens. This is extended to other birds, though mostly birds that have pointy-ish beaks and might peck, so to him, ducks aren't too bad but pigeons are pretty unpleasant. He does eat chicken but he won't prepare it if it still looks like a chicken.

I had a housemate who had an aversion to wet cotton wool - something to do with the squeaking sound it can make, or something.

She knews a woman who was phobic of buttons, and you couldn't wear clothes with visible buttons around her. How such people survive in the real world I don't know. How do you get by if you can't be around buttons?
fluffle9 said:
My dad has a phobia of chickens.
He's not the Minister of Health, is he :)?

My fave was a bloke who was terrified that gravity would somehow stop working. It grew from a vague preoccupation to a full-on phobia, with him tying his foot to his fitted wardrobe each night in case he started floating about in the night. Which is, I suppose, no more curious than being frightened of gherkins.

Wonder where these strange fears actually come from? Especially ones like doorknobs, harmonicas, Norway etc...
Oi! This thread should be in chat!

I have a phobia about arbitrary message board rules.... :evil:
Nope - phobias are Fortean enough to stay here, provided that perhaps there's some discussion on them rather than just a rote list of odd fears, hence my question about the source of the really strange ones. People frightened of gherkins is pretty odd, IMHO.
stuneville said:
Nope - phobias are Fortean enough to stay here..
Emps and Quixote wittering on above in what seems to be a private conversation looks suspiciously like chat, to me.

Phobias as a branch of pyschology/psychiatry should be in New Science.
People chatting about their phobias should be in Chat.

Only a minority of people suffer from serious phobias, whereas the majority of people do suffer from Growing Old, eventually!

Something that pertains to the majority of people should be in the Human Condition, surely?

From where I'm sitting, Growing Old is pretty Fortean anyway.
It challenges your perspectives in ways you never expected.

As you will all learn, if you don't die of bird flu or get run over by the proverbial bus first..... :twisted:
What I've been trying to work is work out is what gave root to these fears. A fear of cetaceans - it's not terribly likely that you were once bitten by one as a child is it? What did the carpet do to my housemate to instill such a fear?

If the majority of people don't suffer from such a phobia, is it possible that maybe we have, but it's of items/smells/sights that we don't experience any more?

Could I be terrified at the sight of a blackpowder cannon being fired? In the future, will we get new fears?

So many questions!
Could it be that these phobias are generalized from other fears? For example, when I was younger I used to have to get a lot of blood tests, which resulted in me developing a phobia of blood tests and an intense fear of needles. This generalized into a fear of straws/pens/other pointy or tube like things coming towards my arm. My bf loves to torture me with his cell phone antennae. :roll:
Interesting - so you've associated any pointy object with the unpleasantness of being jabbed by a needle. I guess there must be a root for many phobias, something that causes the association.
I'm aware of one odd curious phobia that I can trace back to source - my friend Jason has a 'fear' of pencils, or specifically the smell of pencils. Goes back to his school days where, not being a very scholarly chap, he hated using a pen as he couldn't erase his mistakes easily, but whenever he used a pencil the teachers would punish him. Or at least that's his explanation.
rynner said:
Only a minority of people suffer from serious phobias, whereas the majority of people do suffer from Growing Old, eventually!

If a phobia of dolphins/whales and the fact Bill Oddie inspires me to feel sick and uneasy whenever I see him on TV doesn't fit in

The strangeness of our species: From madness to medical oddities and beyond, far beyond...

then they're more mainstream than what I thought. Only the other week I was asked by my friend's daughter to draw her a dolphin, I couldn't even bring myself to do that and having to explain my irrational fear of dolphins to a six-year-old was quite embarrassing. I know why I have a fear of whales and I think the dolphin phobia has arisen from my initial fears of whales.

Rynner - I'm sorry you have also took umbrage at my 'wittering' and 'chat'-style approach to my posts but that's the way I write.

Perhaps we could discuss why your 'Growing Old' thread isn't in The Human Condition elsewhere such as WSI, rather than in this thread?
Wool or tinfoil on the teeth - so much so that even wearing wool or holding tin foil can relly cringe me up sometimes.
My nan had a fear of seeing feathers on bedclothes. I have a feeling that it was rooted in some old superstition.
Do you mean a feather print or design, or an actual feather? I wonder if it's related to the superstition about not leaving hats on the bed.
Actual feathers. According to my mum, it really did scare the hell out of her.
Though I'm reminded of an ever weirder phobia, courtesy of my Polish grandfather:

He couldn't abide a kitchen where the back door was left unlocked - even if you were in the house at the time - for fear that 'the gypsies would get in'.

!? :? !?
Was she scared of feathers in other contexts, or just on the bed?

Your grandfather's fear at least has some kind of basis in reality - people could actually break into the house.
Feathers in the bed means that a feather pillow or eiderdown is leaking.

(Quite common, chez ryn.)
I recall seeing the guitarist from briefly popular band Westworld on Network 7 talking about his fear of celery. Might have been a bizarre publicity stunt, of course.
I don't know, fear of celery seems quite reasonable to me :lol: