Some rare phobias include fear of bathing, fear of mirrors and fear of the color yellow. Individuals who have these phobias often experience extreme anxiety.
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. In some cases, a person with a phobia will meet the diagnostic criteria for a specific phobia, which is a type of anxiety disorder. Someone with a specific phobia will experience intense fear and anxiety when confronted with the source of the phobia, which could include blood, heights or specific animals like dogs.
Phobias are characterized by significant distress and often cause a person to avoid the source of their fear or suffer from extreme anxiety when faced with it. Someone experiencing a phobia that is interfering with everyday life should consider undergoing treatment for their phobia, as outcomes for professional care are typically favorable.
What Are the Weirdest and Most Rare Phobias?
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 and rare 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, but others will completely avoid eating peanut butter or anything with a similar consistency.
Arachibutyrophobia is a rare phobia that can stem from a greater phobia of sticky things 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 rare phobia often stems from a person having a cell phone addiction. People with this phobia may obsessively check their phones throughout the day and worry they will miss out on contact with loved ones. While nomophobia is generally classified as a rare phobia, cell phone addiction appears to be fairly common. Recent research has shown that around half of both men and women have anxiety surrounding their cell phones. Further, one study found that 23% of male students were labeled as nomophobic, and almost 77% checked their cell phones more than 35 times a day. A group in Italy has suggested that nomophobia should be included as a type of specific phobia.
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 wealthy people or fear becoming wealthy themselves. They generally dread money and having to deal with it.
People with this fear may potentially sabotage their careers to avoid making more money or becoming wealthy. The fear of becoming wealthy may stem from a fear of the responsibilities and pressures associated with it or the fear of being the victim of a robbery.
5. Xanthophobia (Fear of the color yellow)
Xanthophobia is a fear of the color yellow. People with this rare phobia 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, and they may even find yellow foods to be distressing. 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 it can still be present in adults. People with ablutophobia avoid bathing and showering, which can lead to unpleasant body odor and sometimes social isolation. However, their fear of bathing and the anxiety they experience while bathing tends to be so extreme that these consequences pale in comparison. Ablutophobia may result from a traumatic event involving water or a fear 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 fear the symbol eight as it appears written down, such as in addresses or advertisements. They also can fear objects presenting in groups of eight.
This rare phobia 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 eighth 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 many other rare 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 rare fear 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 popping a balloon and being frightened by the noise. 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. It is believed that the phobia of long words develops 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 and believe they 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 avoid 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 even when just 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 who experiences a traumatic event, such as being kidnapped or tied up as punishment, 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 those with beards and may even have anxiety when looking at a picture of a bearded person. 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 one’s own hair, other people’s hair or even animal hair. People with chaetophobia might be afraid of a hairball on the ground, or afraid of combing their hair. They often find it extremely difficult to get haircuts and will generally avoid situations where other people touch their hair.
This phobia may arise from a traumatic experience involving hair. Some examples are a bad haircut or losing large amounts of hair by 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, which can include baldness or a change in hair color.
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 one to feel constrained. In other cases, it is a fear of all clothing.
This rare phobia 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. Some may have a fear of manual labor or the act of working itself, while 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 like 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. This phobia is also sometimes 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 because they believe it will cause them bad luck. Others may fear that they will see something supernatural in a mirror, such as a ghost.
Eisoptrophobia can develop from low self-esteem, as a person may feel ashamed of their physical appearance and not want to see it in a mirror. It can lead to depression in some cases, which may require professional treatment in the form of counseling and medication.
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 into a circle of anxiety due to 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.
Learn how to find relief from phobias with the Nobu app. It is free and for anyone that is looking to reduce anxiety, work through depression, build self-esteem, get aftercare following treatment, attend teletherapy sessions and so much more. Download the Nobu app today!
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Bragazzi, Nicola Luigi; Del Puente, Giovanni. “A proposal for including nomophobia in the new DSM-V.” Psychology Research and Behavior Management, May 2014. Accessed February 10, 2022.
Pitchot, William. “Effective Treatment of Eisoptrophobia Wi[…]etine: A Case Report.” The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, September 2014. Accessed February 10, 2022.
National Institute of Mental Health. “Anxiety Disorders.” July 2018. Accessed February 10, 2022.
Dresden, Danielle. “What is ablutophobia?” Medical News Today, November 14, 2017. Accessed February 10, 2022.
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