More threads by Wynn Wilder

When you ask a person if he or she has a phobia, those for whom the answer is "yes" don't hesitate in their responses.

The intense fear and looming dread that peppers their days may account for this lack of hesitation.

Stated more plainly: those who have these fears know it. If you have to think for a minute, chances are your fear is less a phobia and more a dislike.

Philemon Chadman had an intense fear of being upside-down. Chadman, 21, of Bayou Chicot, said his father would play with him as a baby by turning him upside down.

"My father said I would react badly to it," he said.

From then on, when he and his family would visit Astroworld on summer vacations, Chadman wouldn't go near any rides that went upside down.

Eventually, however, around the age of 16, Chadman went to Astroworld and forced himself to ride those rides.

"I got over it," he said.

But being upside down wasn't Chadman's only fear.

"I got in a bad car accident on a bridge," he said. The accident made it difficult for Chadman to cross over bridges.

When crossing bridges, as a passenger, Chadman said he would draw himself up and shut his eyes.

"Long bridges like the one going to New Orleans are bad," he said.

Chadman eventually overcame this fear of bridges "mainly because you have to drive over them. You don't really have a choice."

Jamie Jacobs, 25, of Baton Rouge, said it plainly - "underwater stuff scares me." She realized her fear of deep water when she went to the beach for the first time and refused to get in the water.

"I guess it's kind of a 'fear of the unknown' thing," she said.

Though psychologists advocate gradual behavior modification, forcing yourself to take part in the dreaded behavior, Jacobs said no one ever tried to make her get over her fear, which means she still won't go in the water.

"I'm OK as long as I'm in a canoe or a boat," she said.

Some people's phobias aren't as tangible as deep water or bridges. Anything with a suction and unusually long and/or tall, skinny things sends Ann Skinner, a 22-year-old student at Louisiana Tech University, into fits.

"When I was little, my brother would chase me around with the vacuum and tell me it was going to scalp me," Skinner said.

Vacuums don't bother her so much now unless someone chases her or draws the hose near her. But vacuums aren't the only enemy.

"Pool drains are bad," Skinner said. "When I was a kid and I went to the pool, I heard someone's mom say 'Watch your kids around that drain -- a kid drowned because her hair got caught.' When I'm in a pool or hot tub now, I'm just very aware of where the drains are."

Skinner also has a problem with any animals that suck or have suction-cup like body parts.

"When I watched '10,000 Leagues Under the Sea' and the people were attacked by the octopus, leaving suction marks all over their bodies, it really scared me," she said.

As far as unusually long or tall, skinny things, Skinner said her biggest fear lies in people.

"Long, skinny fingers scare me - and unusually tall, skinny people - it reminds me of alien or witch," she said.

Skinner's friend Laura Marler, 23, also a student at Louisiana Tech, chimed in with a phobia of her own.

"I have a fear of elevator doors closing on me," she said.

Though it's never happened to her, she gets nervous every time she's in an elevator.

"I've heard what could be called urban legends about people getting caught in elevator doors and having their arms cut off," she said.

And that's enough to make her wary.

Many people had reservations about discussing their fears on the record. But it wasn't hard to find people who admitted to phobias that included fear of birds, fear of frogs or toads, fear of peacocks, fear of stinging insects, fear of large, looming structures and fear of short, quiet people.

Though the specific fear may be uncommon - like Xanthophobia, the fear of the color yellow or the word "yellow" - having a phobia is not.

-- Jodi Belgard


I am afraid of clowns, except Krusty the Klown and Homey the Clown. I am also afraid of all puppets except Sesame Street characters. Marionettes and dummies that sit on the knee give me the heeby jeebies. I want to walk up and SMACK all mimes!

I guess this is not quite a phobia, but sometimes it seems to approach it!

Actually, I will admit this because I came to realize that MANY people are afraid of clowns! My friend took her 18 year old daughter to the circus and when the clowns came on, she ran out of the tent screaming! My friend never knew........

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
It's not uncommon for small children to be worried about clown faces and puppet faces, and certain cartoons... I think it has to do with the distortion of the "humna" face - it's human-like but not quite human and I think that's the characteristic that triggers fear/anxiety/worry, for whatever reason.


Wynn Wilder said:
When you ask a person if he or she has a phobia, those for whom the answer is "yes" don't hesitate in their responses.

-- Jodi Belgard

That's not entirely accurate - i have phasmophobia so, obviously, saying that i have this phobia is not exactly the thing that you'd splurt out for fear of being riddiculed. I'd have to weigh up the person quickly before answering...

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
True enough, KK. I think Wynn's point was that if you ask yourself that question or if someone you trust asks the question, those with phobias don't need to wonder about what the correct answer is...

I'm not sure I agree 100% with that opinion but it probably does have some general merit.


Yeah, thats probably true. I dont hesitate to admit to myself. But for some people there's the little problem of DENIAL... its the most natural of ego defense mechanisms. Maybe they do not want the phobia to such an extent that they try to convince themselves that they dont have it - hence the pause...
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