A Fear of Awful Titles

Everyone keeps talking about how awful having a phobia is. This includes how a fear of eating too many calories (cibophobia) leads to health problems, how a fear of open spaces and being outside (agoraphobia) is crippling their social life, and how being terrified of being financially responsible is turning them into Republicans (corruptophobia). The news is blowing all of these out of proportion. In my opinion, this is all nonsense.

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with having a phobia (or any “personality quirk” for that matter). In fact, phobias are the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. It just depends on how you look at it.

I have a serious fear of germs (mysophobia). True story. I carry around two antibacterial gel bottles at all times, just in case one runs out (also, because I like even Fibonacci numbers, but that’s OCD, and best left for a different article). Yeah, sometimes, it sucks, and I wash my hands until my knuckles bleed, and I have to use my shirt to open doors, and it gets really awkward when the girlfriend tries to surprise-kiss my face, but there’s good in it too. It keeps me from getting ebola, or leprosy, or death (“getting death” being my least favorite). The only unfortunate thing about this particular aversion is that it doesn’t do much for somatoform illnesses.

I also have a fear of forgetting things (athazagoraphobia), so I get awful anxiety all the time. It’s really not bad though. It helps me remember stuff. It’s kind of like  having a mental iPhone calendar reminder. It starts reminding you two months in advance, you can’t snooze it and it wakes you up in the middle of the night.

My fear of heights (acrophobia) has kept me from falling off tall places like cliffs, skyscrapers and park benches, so I’d say it’s doing a good job, so far. I have paranoia and narcissism, so I’m fearful everyone is going to tell me how great I am, and that’s not a bad thing to be scared of. My hypochondria mixed with an obsession with WebMD has led me to believe I always have a headache … or cancer. Luckily, my fear of trusting what I read on the Internet (Pistanthrophobia) keeps me sane (although, you probably can’t tell).

Also, I have a fear of people not thinking I’m good enough (atelophobia) mixed with a high level of vanity, so those cancel each other out. My extreme anxiety I get when I think about interacting with other people and my fear of being alone (isolophobia) add up to me being normal. I suffer from dyslexia, and a fear of the afterlife (ouranophobia and hadephobia), so I spend hours talking to my dog.

So, no, I don’t think phobias are the worst thing ever, and I don’t think they ruin your life. After all, Nicki Minaj said she had a fear of sex (genophobia) when she was growing up, and look how she turned out. OK, maybe that was a bad example. But, I think my faults or flaws or quirks don’t hold me back. In fact, I think they make me awesome. Really awesome. Really, really awesome. Like everything I do is just brilliant (but I’m also a little bit manic, right now).

What I’m trying to say is, if you’re one of the 15,450,000 people in the United States that doesn’t like snakes or speaking in front of people or “Dexter” after season two, cool your jets; you’re normal. If anything, you’re probably better than normal. After all, psychological problems are all in your head (pun) … but I fear I didn’t quite communicate that well enough.

Justin Huft is a third-year psychology and social behavior major. He can be reached at jhuft@uci.edu.