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All people have something their fear. But, in some extreme cases, this turns into an excessive and irrational one. If you have experienced a deep sense of dread or panic when you encounter the source of your fear, you probably have a phobia. People with phobias often realize that their fear is irrational. However, they are unable to do something about it and it interferes with their daily lives. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 10 percent of people in the US experience phobias.
Believe it or not, there are hundreds of phobias that people across the globe have. Among these are the strangest that most of us might have probably never heard of before, and so will be hard to believe in. But they do exist, like the following:
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Spectrophobia: Fear of mirrors
Most of us are fond of looking at our reflection in the mirror. But not people who suffer from spectrophobia that most likely stems from a traumatic event that involves mirrors, like apparitions or ghosts. Usually, the fear is not of these objects themselves, but what they represent and reflect. In some cases, people are afraid of their image being reflected in the mirror probably due to superstition or beliefs.
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Geliophobia: Fear of laughter
Many studies have proven that laughter can improve our overall well-being and help build social bonds. However, some people have an irrational fear of laughter. Geliophobia might be related to a traumatic event that involves laughter. For instance, they had been laughed at an inappropriate time and suffered humiliation as a result. Whatever the reasons are, people who have geliophobia have an emotional turmoil that is completely disruptive on their ability to function.
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Taphophobia: Fear of being buried alive
This type of phobia is related to other phobias such as fear of tight and enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), fear of cemeteries (coimetrophobia), fear of tombstones (placophobia), and fear of death (thanatophobia). According to an article by Prevention, a leading provider of trustworthy health information, studies suggest that taphophobia can emerge after an accident or surgery. Many people feared doctors or medical professionals would mistakenly pronounce them dead.
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Philophobia: Fear of falling in love
Some people are afraid of falling in love, especially when they have previously encountered an abusive and manipulative partner. But some actual people have a phobia to it called philophobia or fear of love or of becoming emotionally connected with another person. Usually, this starts by obsessing over a broken relationship. Eventually, it will become a fear of experiencing heartbreak again. In some cases, this can escalate into a scenario where they will avoid any human contact.
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Papaphobia: Fear of the Pope
According to All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they saw on the news or read in history books, papaphobia is linked with the fear of churches or organized religion (ecclesiophobia) and the fear of holy people or objects (hierophobia). For millions of people around the world, the Pope is a beloved spiritual leader. But his image can trigger some people with papaphobia, leading to debilitating symptoms including extreme anxiety, nausea, excessive sweating, dry mouth, and shaking among others.
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Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia: Fear of long words
Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is one of the longest words in the dictionary. And ironically, it is the name for a fear of long words. The American Psychiatric Association doesn’t officially recognize this phobia but they considered it as a social phobia. Usually, it is used in the context of patients with dyslexia who are struggling with unusually long words. Many individuals feel extremely anxious or experience panic attacks at the sight or thought of long words.
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Pantophobia: Fear of everything
It’s probably tiring and extremely stressful to fear everything in your life. But such fear exists, which is called pantophobia. The term was coined by French psychologist Theodule-Armand Ribot in his 1911 work, “The Psychology of the Emotions.” The psychologist defined it as "a state in which a patient fears everything or nothing, where anxiety, instead of being riveted on one object, floats as in a dream and only becomes fixed for an instant at a time, passing from one object to another, as circumstances may determine." It is a general sense of being scared all the time, which might be the result of a combination of external events and internal predispositions.