Irrational Fear

Thursday, October 05, 2006

All of us are afraid of something, be it heights, flying, commitment, etc. But how many of our fears are rational? What happens when you are afraid? For some of us, it's debilitating. My most debilitating is enochlophobia, or a fear of crowds...although, I'm not sure if it's an actual fear or if I am just severely uncomfortable in crowds- basically social anxiety. Either way, it is the major reason for my opting to stay in on a Saturday night, rather than going to a club with my friends...or choosing a small dive bar over some crowded, popular bar. So what happens to me? Panic attacks. I'm not sure if I could accurately describe what a panic attack is like, but my friend Alice gives a pretty good description.

Whenever someone says that they have a fear of something, the logical question is "Well, did you have a bad experience?" It would make sense, wouldn't it? But how many of us have fears that we can't explain away? I certainly have a few- like the enochlophobia. I have no explanation for that, except that it may stem from a bad E roll (that's an ecstasy high for those of you straight-laced types*) in college. I was in a crowded club, having a really bad roll. Basically, I freaked out. Come to think of it, I've pretty much avoided crowds since then.

And why are so many of us afraid of spiders? Most spiders are harmless, but a good percentage (myself included) are terrified of them. In fact, I am pretty much scared of any bug with more than 4 legs (other than catepillars). In fact, I will not go anywhere near a centipede- those things freak me out and move WAY too fast.

But perhaps my most irrational fear (and it's probably my strongest, most intense one) is clowns. Words cannot describe how afraid I am of clowns. And I honestly have no idea why. I remember my first experience with this- I was 3 and we were here in the states visiting my grandparents (I grew up in Germany). My grandparents thought it would be great to take me to the circus. I was having a great time, until the clowns came out. I still vividly remember the fear I felt. I screamed my head off, and my grandfather had to carry me out of there.

The fear that so many people have that I really don't understand is a fear of commitment. Especially considering we live in a time and a country where divorce is pretty normal,** so why has it become progressively more common to be afraid to commit? Why is it so hard for us to choose to be with one, and only one, person? Is it because there are so many choices out there? Is it the case where the more items on the menu, the harder it is to pick one? Personally, I am not afraid of commitment- in fact, when I like someone, I dive in head-first. Yes, my heart gets broken, but I would much rather feel something, anything, than to push people away.

So what are your fears? Are they rational?***

*I was never the druggie type, but I did dabble a little back in the day.
**Don't get me wrong, I am most certainly not advocating divorce, or making light of it.
*** And why have I been asking questions at the end of every post? Is it because I am to lazy to finish the post with a conclusion paragraph? perhaps...


The Husband 10/05/2006 02:50:00 PM  

i know several people who are scared of clowns. i can't figure that one out.

i also know people who think the Burger King guy with the big head in those commercials is creepy.

anyway, being put on the spot in front of a big group is something i have problems with. most of the time i freeze up and can't think of anything good to say. then i start wondering if people think i'm a moron or something. i also get really, really red in the face which makes people me.

Sweet 10/05/2006 03:33:00 PM  

Flying and emotional intimacy. I think both of them have to do with losing control.

Eric 10/05/2006 03:48:00 PM  

When I was younger I was somewhat afraid of bridges. Mainly really high ones, or those kind that are way to close to the water. What is my job now? I'm a structural engineer, I design bridges. How weird is that?

I think all my other fears I've pretty much gotten over in time. Most of them were due to overwhelming shyness and social anxiety, which for some reason went away, not totally, but enough.

minijonb 10/05/2006 03:57:00 PM  

The only thing we have to fear is Phobophobia --- the fear of fear itself.

I promise never, ever to take you to an Insane Clown Posse concert... actually, please kill me if I ever go to an ICP concert.

... and you know how I feel about rhetorical questions. The're hott =:-)

Avin 10/05/2006 04:29:00 PM  

Oh wow there are so many. High bridges over water is the one that bugs me the most. I cant drive over them, but I can ride in a car without looking out the windows. Driving over one (which happens pretty frequently thanks to my mother and "the boyfriend" and their "we forgot bullshit) causes an instant panic attack which includes profuse sweating, hyperventilation and nausea.

Spiders yes, centipedes HELL YES and bees of course will cause me to scream and run. Bats (that one is new after this summer) and some mild forms of social anxiety such as public speaking. I am sure there are more but other people need room to comment too.

mgc 10/05/2006 05:43:00 PM  

i have an irrational fear of water where i cannot see the bottom.

also germs. they are everywhere! so i do not share things that go in my mouth.

sadly, i secretly dress as a clown for self enjoyment.

allan 10/05/2006 06:34:00 PM  

I'm a guy and a dad, I don't fear anything.

Betty 10/06/2006 02:25:00 AM  

oh my god, I feel so crazy at times. And I think of you when I have them. they are ok, we will be ok. Connection helps us get through them. But sunday for me was a massive breakdown.

Ashburnite 10/06/2006 10:44:00 AM  

spacks- oh, that Burger King guy is creepy!
And I'm with you on being put on the spot in front of a group.

sweet- good point. I never thought about the loss of control.

eric- yeah, I really don't like going over bridges, either. There's certainly some irony in you designing them.

mjb- I was going to would actually go to an icp concert??!!

Ashburnite 10/06/2006 10:48:00 AM  

avin- yeah, I hate driving over them, too. happy to hear I'm not a freak for being scared of centipedes.

mgc- yeah, I think your germphobia has been well documented. and dressing up as a clown? please say it isn't so...

allan- I'm sure there must be something you're afraid of, hun.

alice/betty- yeah, we def need to exchange phone numbers so we can call each other when we feel one coming on. It definitely helps to talk to someone who actually understands them.

nicole 10/06/2006 02:57:00 PM  

You're asking questions to prompt opinions from the readers. There's nothing wrong with that. ;)

By the way, was it hard to do the clown image search? I'd be too freaked to conduct one if I had the clown fear (which should have a clinical name by now).

I have fears but they're not easily labeled or categorized. Like I'm deathly afraid of falling down steps so I'm constantly clutching at the railings. And I'm also afraid of something happening to my eyes. Not so much blindness (though that would truly suck) as a physical injury. I hate hearing about people's eyes being put out...EEK!!!

NotCarrie 10/06/2006 03:41:00 PM  

Clowns are scary bc their drawn-on expressions are so exagerated and you can't tell what's underneath them. Imagine painting a huge smile on a creepy pedaphile. EW!

FJDSFJDKFJDS, scary! I get seriously creeped out.

KassyK 10/06/2006 05:48:00 PM  

I agree with NotCarrie about clowns...they are scary bc they are fake. And OVER exxagerrated. AHH.

I am with you--I am a committphobe right NOW bc I am getting over a 7 year relationship but with him...I knew it was right--so why not BE with him?

I am terrifed of the giant centipedes. To the point that I had some in my aptmt and GOT EXTERMINATION for a year (there were like 3 in a 6 month period). I had panic attacks so bad that I thought I was dying.

I'm also terrified of any a lot of physical things but I won't write those--BC I have a fear that writing things down can be dangerous.

See we are both like this. Why I love you doll.Amongst other things...

Ricardo 10/07/2006 04:30:00 PM  

I've been having a few panic attacks here and there due to job related stress. At least that's the only thing I can think of.

Also I've heard of many people having a fear of clowns. Not sure why people do. I find them annoying but not scary. But everyone has their thing.

As for commitment....well I can't get to crazy with that here.

Aliecat 10/08/2006 04:32:00 PM  

I almost drowned twice as a child, which is why I don't like water that much. Also afraid of bridges over water for the same reason. Rats. Rats are a big fear. Also, most irrational fear is lifelike dolls. Stems from seeing that horror flick "Dolls" in elementary school. The next day I moved all of my dolls out of my room. To this day I cannot look at dolls and not get creeped out.

JoJo 10/08/2006 08:42:00 PM  

Put me in the fear of emotional commitment column. Oh, and clowns? Not cute and not funny. Scary, very scary.

Tara 10/09/2006 09:47:00 AM  

I had a fear of water when I was a kid. I had freak out moments in tub when I was really young, especially when my mom was washing my hair and would put the water over my head. I lept up one time, ran into my room and curled up in the corner on my bed. Scared the hell out of my poor parents. No idea why I was so afraid, but I'm still uncomfortable about certain aspects of water, like going deep.

Rachel 10/09/2006 01:54:00 PM  

I am terrified of losing my own personal control. I can fly and no have a problem. But I am terrified of losing control of myself. Especially in intimate moments.

The Chapatikid 10/10/2006 11:39:00 AM  

I'm afraid of fish, live or dead. They give me panic attacks. It's called ichthyophobia, apparently. I can eat fish, but only when it doesn't look like a fish. Otherwise, it must be kept as far away from me as possible on the dining table, head side farthest away. I don't know. I think I'm scared it'll jump on me or something.

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