A phobia is an irrational fear of an object, situation or living thing. While fear is a natural response to danger, phobias often occur in response to something unlikely to cause real harm.
Phobias are characterized by significant distress and often lead to the person avoiding the source of their fear. A person who is experiencing a phobia that is interfering with their everyday life should consider undergoing treatment for their phobia, as outcomes for professional care are typically favorable.
While most people have heard of common phobias, like the fear of heights (acrophobia) or the fear of spiders (arachnophobia), there are many strange, less talked about phobias. Here is a list of 21 weird phobias you may have never heard of:
1. Arachibutyrophobia (Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth)
Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. While the phenomenon has happened to everyone at one point or another, people with arachibutyrophobia are extremely afraid of it. The severity of arachibutyrophobia varies from person to person. Some with this condition may be able to eat small amounts of peanut butter while others will avoid eating peanut butter or anything with the consistency of peanut butter altogether.
Arachibutyrophobia can stem from a greater phobia of things that are sticky or a fear of choking. It may also stem from a traumatic incident with peanut butter such as choking on or being allergic to it.
2. Nomophobia (Fear of being without your mobile phone)
Nomophobia is the fear of being without your mobile phone. People with nomophobia experience excessive anxiety about not having their phone with them, their battery being low or their phone being out of service. Regardless of the circumstances, not being able to use their phone causes people with nomophobia to become panicked and experience extreme symptoms of anxiety.
This phobia often stems from a person having a cell phone addiction. People with this phobia may obsessively check their phone throughout the day. It appears to be fairly common. In recent surveys of varying populations, the prevalence of anxiety related to not having or being able to use a cell phone ranged from 9–77%. A group in Italy has suggested that nomophobia be added to the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).
3. Arithmophobia (Fear of numbers)
Many people grow up dreading math class, but people with arithmophobia have a genuine fear of numbers. People with this fear usually experience anxiety associated with doing math or dealing with numbers in general, versus fear of actually seeing the number symbols. The fear of numbers is also sometimes referred to as numerophobia. Arithmophobia can significantly impair a person’s life, as it is difficult to do many tasks or occupations without dealing with numbers.
4. Plutophobia (Fear of money)
Many people probably wish they had more money, but plutophobia is a fear of money or wealth. People with plutophobia may fear becoming wealthy themselves or have a fear of wealthy people. They generally dread money itself and having to deal with money.
People with this fear may potentially sabotage their career to prevent them from making more money or becoming wealthy. The fear of becoming wealthy may stem from a fear of the responsibilities or pressures associated with it or the fear of getting robbed.
5. Xanthophobia (Fear of the color yellow)
Xanthophobia is a fear of the color yellow. People with xanthophobia are usually also afraid of any object that is yellow, such as school buses and flowers. People with xanthophobia may avoid the color yellow at all costs. This phobia tends to interfere with everyday life, as yellow things can be found everywhere.
6. Ablutophobia (Fear of bathing)
Ablutophobia is a fear of bathing, washing or cleaning oneself. This phobia most often occurs in children and resolves with age, but can still be present in adults. People with ablutophobia avoid bathing and showering, which can lead to unpleasant body odor and sometimes subsequent social isolation. However, their fear of bathing and the anxiety they experience during bathing tends to be so extreme that these consequences pale in comparison. Ablutophobia may result from a traumatic event involving water, or a person being afraid of getting wet. In some cases, the phobia is related to aquaphobia, which is the fear of water.
7. Octophobia (Fear of the number eight)
Octophobia is a fear of the number eight. Interestingly, there are few other known phobias to specific numbers, except for the fear of numbers themselves (arithmophobia) and the fear of the number thirteen (triskaidekaphobia). People with octophobia not only fear the symbol eight as it appears written down, on addresses or in advertisements, but they also can fear objects present in groups of eight.
The fear of the number eight may come from its resemblance to the infinity sign. It may also come from a traumatic event involving the number eight, such as an accident that happened on the 8th of the month.
8. Optophobia (Fear of opening one’s eyes)
Optophobia is a fear of opening one’s eyes. This fear can be extremely debilitating, as it is hard for an individual to carry out daily activities without opening their eyes. People with optophobia may prefer to stay indoors or in dimly lit areas. This phobia is usually associated with a generalized anxiety disorder. Like so many other phobias, this fear is usually the result of a traumatic incident.
9. Globophobia (Fear of balloons)
Globophobia is a fear of balloons. The level of fear varies from person to person and can range from avoiding being near balloons to avoiding places with balloons altogether. In some people, the fear is so great that even seeing a balloon on television triggers intense anxiety. This phobia can be especially hard for young children, as balloons are often present at children’s birthday parties.
Globophobia is usually brought on by a traumatic experience with a balloon as a child, such as a balloon popping and the noise frightening them. It can also be linked to a fear of clowns (or coulrophobia), as the two are often found together.
10. Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia (Fear of long words)
Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is a fear of long words. Ironically, it is also the longest word in the dictionary. Another name for this phobia is sesquipedalophobia. This phobia is thought to develop from being embarrassed by pronouncing long words incorrectly. This may occur while reading aloud in front of the class as a child. The phobia can also be common in people with dyslexia.
11. Ephebiphobia (Fear of adolescents)
Ephebiphobia is a fear of adolescents or youth. People with ephebiphobia may perceive teenagers as out of control or dangerous. People with this fear may believe that teenagers are rude, unpredictable and do not follow rules. This fear is thought to develop from the negative portrayal of teenagers in the media. People with ephebiphobia are afraid of teenagers and will not want to be around them. People with this fear may avoid going to a friend’s house if they have teenagers or going to places where teenagers tend to hang out.
12. Omphalophobia (Fear of belly buttons)
Omphalophobia is a fear of belly buttons. People with omphalophobia will avoid seeing or touching belly buttons, even their own. They might even put a bandage over their belly button to avoid looking at it. They will sometimes avoid places where belly buttons might be exposed, like the beach.
13. Linonophobia (Fear of string)
Linonophobia is a fear of string. A person with linonophobia will have an extreme reaction when even thinking of string, let alone seeing it in person. People with linonophobia will avoid string or anything having to do with string, such as sewing or tying shoes.
This usually develops from a negative association with string that may stem from a fear of being restrained or restricted. A person that experiences a traumatic event, such as being tied up as punishment or kidnapping, may develop linonophobia. It can also develop simply from watching these events on television.
14. Pogonophobia (Fear of beards)
Pogonophobia is a fear of beards. This usually stems from an alarming incident with a bearded person. It could also arise from a person not liking that a beard hides someone’s face.
People with pogonophobia will avoid people with beards and may even have anxiety when looking at a picture of someone with a beard. They usually will not be friends with someone who has a beard and will feel extremely nervous when talking to someone who does.
15. Chaetophobia (Fear of hair)
Chaetophobia is a fear of hair. This phobia can be a fear of a person’s own hair, other people’s hair or even animal hair. People with chaetophobia might be afraid of a hairball on the ground, or combing their hair. They will generally avoid situations where other people touch their hair and often find it extremely difficult to get haircuts.
This phobia may arise from a traumatic experience involving hair. Some examples are a bad haircut or losing large amounts of hair, such as going bald. It could also be caused by someone believing that hair is dirty and not wanting to come into contact with it.
Related phobias are trichophobia and trichopathophobia. Trichophobia is the fear of loose hair, such as hair that has fallen out onto their clothes or furniture. Trichopathophobia is the fear of hair disease, such as a change in hair color or going bald.
16. Vestiphobia (Fear of clothing)
Vestiphobia is a fear of clothing. For many people, this manifests as a fear of a specific garment. For others, it might come from a fear of tight-fitting clothing that causes them to feel restrained. In other cases, it is a fear of all clothing.
Vestiphobia can arise from an allergy to a specific type of fabric or a traumatic event associated with a certain piece of clothing. For example, there have been cases where former soldiers develop a fear of military clothing.
17. Ergophobia (Fear of work)
Ergophobia is a fear of work. People with ergophobia tend to have extreme anxieties associated with their place of work or work environment. Others may have a fear of manual labor or the act of working itself. Still, others can have a fear of finding a job. All of these cases would be classified as ergophobia.
The fear of work can lead to anxiety attacks and impair a person’s ability to function professionally. It can have a huge impact on a person’s life, as most people need to maintain a job to survive. Ergophobia may stem from occupational burnout, where a person becomes so stressed and exhausted by their job that they feel they can no longer complete it. It can also be associated with negative work experiences such as an abusive employer or poor work-life balance.
Ergophobia is often related to other specific phobias, such as social phobia, fear of public speaking or fear of criticism.
18. Decidophobia (Fear of making decisions)
Decidophobia is a fear of making decisions. Making any kind of decision can seem impossible for someone with decidophobia, as they do not trust their own opinions. A person with decidophobia may excessively rely on others to help them with decision making. They may even turn to external sources, such as astrology, for advice. Decidophobia could be part of a larger mental health disorder called dependent personality disorder. One of the symptoms of dependent personality disorder is relying on others to make decisions.
19. Eisoptrophobia (Fear of mirrors)
Eisoptrophobia is a fear of mirrors, sometimes also referred to as spectrophobia or catoptrophobia. People with this fear are unable to look at themselves in a mirror. This fear may also extend to any reflective surface.
This fear may stem from superstitions about mirrors. For instance, a person may be afraid of breaking a mirror as they believe it will cause them bad luck. Others may fear that they will see something supernatural in a mirror, such as a ghost.
In some cases, eisoptrophobia develops from low self-esteem, where a person is ashamed of their physical appearance and therefore does not want to see it in a mirror. In some cases, it can lead to depression.
20. Deipnophobia (Fear of dining with others)
Deipnophobia is a fear of dining with others. This often manifests as a fear of dinner parties and may stem from a fear of dinner conversations or having to carry out a conversation while eating. It may be related to an underlying social phobia. In many cases, deipnophobia is triggered by traumatic events from an individual’s past, such as being ridiculed as a child for the way they ate or for not following proper etiquette at the dinner table.
The fear of dining with others can also be related to a fear of being criticized for the way a person eats. A person with deipnophobia may feel awkward eating in front of others and therefore avoid it. People with deipnophobia tend to eat alone or prefer to eat in silence if they do eat with others.
21. Phobophobia (Fear of phobias)
Phobophobia is a fear of phobias. This can be described as free-floating anxiety, where a person spirals in a circle of anxiety from fearing fear itself. In that respect, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Phobophobia is commonly co-diagnosed with other types of specific phobias and is often associated with anxiety disorders. People with phobophobia will often avoid social situations or other situations that can lead to anxiety. When extreme, it will greatly interfere with an individual’s everyday life.
Some people may turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with their phobias. If you are affected by a phobia and are using substances to cope, we can help. We have comprehensive treatment plans and online counseling that can help you gain control of your thoughts and actions.
Bhattacharya, Sudip; Bashar, Md Abu; Srivastava, Abhay; Singh, Amarjeet. “NOMOPHOBIA: NO MObile PHone PhoBIA.” Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, April 2019. Accessed June 21, 2019. Bragazzi, Nicola Luigi; Del Puente, Giovanni. “A proposal for including nomophobia in the new DSM-V.” Psychology Research and Behavior Management, May 2014. Accessed June 21, 2019. Pitchot, William. “Effective Treatment of Eisoptrophobia With Duloxetine: A Case Report.” The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, September 2014. Accessed June 21, 2019.
Bhattacharya, Sudip; Bashar, Md Abu; Srivastava, Abhay; Singh, Amarjeet. “NOMOPHOBIA: NO MObile PHone PhoBIA.” Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, April 2019. Accessed June 21, 2019.
Bragazzi, Nicola Luigi; Del Puente, Giovanni. “A proposal for including nomophobia in the new DSM-V.” Psychology Research and Behavior Management, May 2014. Accessed June 21, 2019.
Pitchot, William. “Effective Treatment of Eisoptrophobia With Duloxetine: A Case Report.” The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, September 2014. Accessed June 21, 2019.