Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bad News, I'm Afraid

The Greek philosopher Philoteradactyl reportedly said: "For everything under the sun there is an associated fear, and none greater than the haunting fear of our own being."
Mind you, this was like 2000 years before the discovery of psychology and the subsequent pouring out of all the creepy/scary stuff percolating in the human mind. Freud, of course, intervened in this tidal wave of terror, reducing its terrible impact by reminding us that all our fears are reducible to one preoccupying fear: namely, the fear of our parents engaging in sex. Ugh! and Yuck!
Anyway, the question remains, what exactly is there to be afraid of?  Well, everything, apparently. Not only does virtually everything provoke fear, but every fear has a name. Which is probably a good thing, because what's scarier than a fear to which we cannot assign a label? All therapists, by the way, are required to commit to memory the names of all fears before being given a license to practice.

A few of my favorites:
Ambulophobia / the fear of walking;  might this explain why so many people strenuously resist even this simplest form of exercise, or why I continually see legions of old people out on the street, trapped, apparently, in some sort of suspended animation?
Anablephobia / the fear of looking up; a recent survey asked Japanese high school students when the last time was they had looked at the sky. 70% responded that they had no memory of ever having done so.  Mnemophobia (the fear of memories) notwithstanding, we may now understand why.
Barophobia / the fear of gravity;  this one is serious, fundamental you might even say, gravity being one of the four basic forces sustaining the universe. Take away gravity and we're all just goo rapidly flying off into the void. Maybe it's the fact that gravity is not so much a thing pulling us down, as a warp in space/time constantly pushing on us like an obsessive bully.
Phronemophobia / the fear of thinking;  weird, right? Although it does go a long way to explain the continued existence of conservative Republicans.
Sinophobia / the fear of Chinese people;  hey, with 1.2 billion of them on the planet, 100 million of the nouveau affluent ones expected to travel abroad within the next two years, this is not so much a fear as basic common sense.
Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia / perhaps no surprise, the fear of long words; you don't actually have to be phobic to be afraid of this word. The implied irony for long word phobics is that learning the name of their fear is most likely only going to make their condition worse.

Everyone is familiar with the famous F.D.R. quote: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
What most people don't know is that this is an expurgated version of the actual quote,
"We have nothing to fear but fear itself, and there are, as it turns out, a shitload of them."

Have a favorite fear of your own?  Please let me know.

1 comment:

  1. As a long-term, multifaceted Chinese phobic (whose fear of flying prevents him from even considering traveling abroad, so don't worry), this is exactly the sort of anti-phobia rhetoric that we phobics are afraid to see in print. My wife, by the way, who fears bad news like the plague, cannot even find the words to express her shock. So thank you for that.