The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. These words hold true for over 19.7 million American adults ages 18 and over who struggle on a daily basis with some sort of phobia or overbearing fear. While most of us find it extremely amusing busting on one of our friends who is scared of either snakes, heights, flying, etc., phobias actually exist in 8.7 percent of this age group, and it really is no laughing matter for those who suffer from these affects. All of us get scared at some point, (even you tough guys), and while it may not be to the point of some people, it’s something that all of us can relate to. I have to admit that I get a little freaked out by clowns. They’re just kind of creepy. All of the face paint, weird smiles, and crazy costumes make me feel a little uneasy in their presence. Maybe it’s because 20 of them can fit into the same little car, they can do unnatural things with balloons, or perhaps it was the time when a clown gave me the middle finger when I was only eight years old; either way I don’t like them and I never will. Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s take a look at ten of the most common phobias associated with Americans today. You know you’re scared of a couple things on this list…admit it.
10. The Dentist- Show me one person that enjoys going to the dentist, and I’ll show you one certified sociopath. No one in their right mind would voluntarily visit the dentist if it wasn’t 100 percent necessary in maintaining your health. First off, you have to sit in that depressing waiting area while being forced to listen to all of the poor souls ahead of you being mutilated by tools you’ve only seen in Braveheart. Next you get to sit in this uncomfortable recliner as some guy with rubber gloves and a mask rips apart your gums with the sharpest little hook ever made. To make things worse, all the while you have to have some inane conversation with the guy who’s carving you up as blood and drool is pouring all over the napkin on your chest. The process is brutal, but we have to do it. Dentophobia can be caused by either having a traumatizing experience in the past, fear of needles, and the feeling of helplessness of being subject to the entire process. No matter which way you slice it, going to the dentist blows, but your teeth sure do feel great when you get home!
9. Dogs- Man’s best friend? Not to those who suffer from cynophobia, more commonly known as the fear of dogs. This phobia regularly occurs in those who have been bitten by a dog before, no matter if it was a chihuahua or a pit bull. Other sources state that since we already know that dogs bite, mentally, we assume that they will bite us even though they have done nothing wrong. They say the cure for cynophobia is to watch Air Bud: Golden Receiver until all fear is gone. After watching this lovable canine take his team of rag-tag humans to the top by playing wide receiver for their football team, there is no possible way that any other dog can scare you. Another common cure is to rush up to any strange dog and aggressively start petting the little fella. Never mind the snarling teeth or hair standing up on the back of his neck; dogs just really enjoy people approaching them with fast, herky-jerky motions. If the dog ends up biting you, it’s not their fault. Dogs are the best judge of character on the planet, so if you get bitten, most likely you are some kind of dick that nobody likes anyways. Your welcome for the tips.
8. Flying- Up, up, and away! That sounds fine if you are Superman, but for the 25 million plus Americans who are afraid of the spacious skies, well, not so much. It doesn’t matter that statistics show that the lifetime odds of dying in an airplane accident is 1-in-20,000 compared to 1-in-100 for an automobile accident. Aviophobics want no part of this argument. All that these people know is that they don’t want to be stuck in a crowded, metal bird with no control, no escape, and no hope. The two main factors that contribute to aviophobia are the fear of crashing and claustrophobia. On one hand you have the person who despite the stats above thinks that they can fly the plane better than the pilot. As long as they’re in control, nothing could possibly go wrong. Never mind the fact that they are trained pilots and fly multiple times a day; this idiot thinks that he’s the man for the job. Just sit there and shut up. On the other hand you have the panic attack people. I have a little sympathy for this bunch. You’re packed into this crumby seat with a bunch of people you don’t know, (people you don’t like), it’s hot, uncomfortable, and your only option is to wait it out for a few hours. It’s not an ideal situation for anyone, so suck it up because it sure beats driving.
7. Thunder and Lightning- Thunderbolts and lightning, very,very frightening me! Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Galileo Figaro! Yup, just like Queen tells us, thunder and lightning are scary. Thanks Freddie! Sorry, but people who suffer from astrapophobia are just a bunch of wimps. Sure I might jump a little when that first boom of thunder catches me off guard, but besides that storms are the sh*t! Whats not to like about thunder and lightning? The wind is whipping as that erie calm before the storm happens. You start to see a little lightning in the distance as the dark clouds come rolling towards you. All of a sudden the rain starts pelting down uncontrollably as the thunder and lightning crash down all around you as if they were delivered from the hand of mighty Zeus himself. Well I guess when you put it that way, storms are kind of scary. Damn. Storms can really get a person’s heart rate going at a pretty good pace though, so it is definitely a problem for lots of people out there. For others like myself, it’s a time to wrap those covers back around you and let rhythmic beat of the rain give you the best sleep that you can possibly get.
6. The Dark- I’m the Boogeyman and I’m coming to getcha! Every person used to be afraid of the dark and most of us still are. Whether it’s the monster hiding under your bed, the ghosts swirling around your room, or the axe murderer that’s waiting for you in your closest, we all get a little sketched out when it’s pitch dark. Odds are that you aren’t going to be murdered by zombies in your sleep, but that doesn’t stop us from imagining it anyways. The thing about the dark is that it leaves you alone with your paranoia. When the only thing you have to protect you are your thoughts then you’re in big trouble buddy. Most of us don’t picture that a million bucks is going to fall from the ceiling or that five Playboy Bunnies are going to have their way with us in the middle of the night. Nope. We go to the darkest regions of our minds and wait to be carved up with hunting knife. It’s obviously worse when we are kids, but it still happens from time to time. I just know that noise downstairs is not my imagination. I better just put the covers back over my head so he can’t find me. God I’m f*cked!
5. Heights- Whatever you do, don’t look down. Everybody always says it, and (of course) we always look down anyways. This is the worst case scenario for anyone suffering from acrophobia. Most of us don’t enjoy being in an open space hundreds of feet off of the ground. You start looking over the edge and your equilibrium gets all out of whack. Sometimes you start getting lightheaded and wait to fall over the railing and plummet to your death. I don’t know how these roofers do it. Walking without a care in the world, jumping from beam to beam like they’re taking a leisurely stroll in the park. Not to mention a lot of the time they’ve already got a couple beers in them before noon. Maybe that’s the answer. When people get out of their element and leave the solid footing of Mother Earth, they just freak out. If we could just throw every acrophobe out of an airplane so they would understand how awesome it is then we wouldn’t have these problems anymore. If Keanu Reeves can do it without a parachute, then it should be a breeze for the rest of us.
4. People- If you are one of the many awkward Americans walking the streets then this is probably one of your fears. Anthropophobia is the fear of being around people or society. Each and every one of us was a little nervous the first time we had to deliver our first speech in public speaking. Your palms are sweaty, you start to stutter a little bit, but before you knew it you were done. No big deal. Well over 15 million Americans never got over that first speech and are now bumbling adults with no social skills. They get nervous walking down a crowded street like everyone else is judging them. Well I’ve got news for you. We are judging you. As you walk down the sidewalk with your head down and your hands in your pockets, it makes us a little edgy. Who knows why you’re acting all shady? Maybe if you grew a backbone and said hello to someone every once and a while, the rest of society wouldn’t think that you were more of a freak than you already are. Stop being a baby and get involved.
3. Crowded Spaces- This sort of goes hand in hand with number three on our list. If you don’t like people, then you definitely don’t like being in a crowded space with people. Agoraphobia is the intense fear and anxiety of any place or situation where escape might be difficult. This includes elevators, malls, driving, bridges, sporting events, and concerts. I get the part about being stuck in an elevator with strangers; that doesn’t sound fun at all. If you mean to tell me that you’re afraid to go to a concert or a football game then I don’t even want you there. You just stay locked within your four walls while I’m at the Motley Crue concert getting drunk and rocking out with 50,000 of my closest friends. If you can make it out of your closet long enough to turn on your TV, maybe you can catch a glimpse of me court side at the Heat game sitting by Kim Kardashian living the life. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for you if all you can do is stay inside. Grow up party pooper.
2. Bugs- This isn’t so much of a phobia as it is more of a case that bugs are just gross. If you’re one of those people that are playing with worms and spiders, then I think it’s safe to say that you are the one with the problem. No normal person sees a gigantic spider out of the corner of their eye and runs over to touch it. Our first reaction is a quick bout of panic until we grab a rolled up copy of the Chronicle and smash it to death. It’s actually a pretty gratifying feeling when you see spider guts mashed all over your counter. Even though you are a million times bigger than it, you still feel like you’ve accomplished something. In that situation it’s either you or the spider. Survival mode kicks in and you show that eight legged freak who’s at the top of the food chain. I dare one of you bug lovers to wake up in the middle of the night with a centipede crawling over your bare chest and not be at least a little creeped out. There is no real phobia for fear of bugs; it’s simply known as normality.
1. Snakes- Coming in at number one on the list is a creature that can scare the pants off of any single one of your toughest friends: snakes. I actually think snakes are pretty cool myself, at least when watching them on television or when they’re in a cage. If you’ve ever ran into a snake in the wild, it’s a completely different story. The way they slither through the grass is enough to make anyone run in the other direction. Then you have those venomous fangs just waiting to pierce your skin and fill your veins full of toxic poison. No thanks kimosabe. Snakes have forever been a fear of the human race. Just ask Hollywood. Why do you think they make snakes the villains in so many movies? J-Lo and Ice Cube had to face one in Anaconda. They made a ridiculous move called Snakes on a Plane just because they know that the general public wants to get freaked out watching a bunch of snakes chase Samuel L. Jackson around for an hour and a half. Don’t feel bad if snakes make you uneasy. You can either stay cooped up in your house or tuck those jeans into yours socks and you’ll be ok. Now we’ll leave you with a little quote from another legendary snake hater named Indiana Jones, “Snakes? Why did it have to be snakes?”