The Pop-up Book of Phobias

One of the best gifts I received as an adult is the Pop-up Book of Phobias. I keep it in my office, it has something for almost everyone, in all dimensions, in Latin terminology. Ophidiophobia, fear of snakes. A cobra rears its head off the page. Claustrophobia, fear of enclosed spaces. The page won’t open fully. They even have a phobia to do with clowns. I never knew people could be afraid of clowns. I guess you can be afraid of anything.

My stepson has mysophobia. He washes his hands if they come in contact with the germ-air over trash cans.

My house is filled with arachnophobes. One of my daughters killed a spider with a shoe. From across the room. Fear improves aim. I once looked in the mirror to the sight of a Brown Recluse on my forehead. My husband was amazed by my calm. He couldn’t tell the difference between calm and paralysis.

If a phobia doesn’t have a Latin tag does it actually exist? My husband had a patient who had a fear of driving over dead bodies. My husband worries that he will leave our house with the garage door open. Every morning this is the scene: We reach the first curve in the road. Bob: Did I close the garage door? Me: Yes. Bob: Are are you sure? Me: Yes. Bob: You know, once I forgot and came home and the garage door was up all day. Me: I know. You’ve told me that story a bajillion times. Bob: Well, it could happen again. I’m going back to check. He really needs to fear leaving the house without his pants. Because he did that once, too, and that has real consequences.

One of my daughters won’t get into a wet shower. Think about that for a minute. She is also grossed out about “unattached” hair – drain hair, hairbrush hair, clothes hair, pillow hair. Think about THAT for a minute.

Remember that phase we all went through when McDonald toys and Beanie Babies and virtually everything was collectible and was, eventually, supposed to be worth lots of money? I wonder how many people became hoarders because of that? Imagine the effect that had on a kid (like my older daughter) who already tended that way. Everything that went into her room never came out. Just in case. You never knew. The product. The box it came in. The paper it was wrapped in. The ribbon. If it came with food. Yeah, that, too, you never know. Cleaning her room was an adventure. A sense of smell was not an advantage. I once pulled out a Joe’s cup with rubberized milk at the bottom. Usually the food was amorphous when I got to it. I think this was at the time that toast was getting sold on e-bay for thousands because it bore a resemblance to Jesus and Mac-n-cheese to Paul McCartney.

What do I fear? Well, I won’t go up in a hot air balloon because I’m afraid I’ll get an overwhelming urge to jump out, same with any high places (acrophobia) and I avoid cops because I have an insane urge to grab their guns (stupidity).


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