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Contact Dustyn Stevens
Phobia: An extreme or irrational fear of something. We have all heard of the phenomenon. Perhaps, even experienced it on a personal level.
From the big manly man, who turns into a little girl when he sees a spider; to the brave and ambitious soul, clutching for dear life to the sides of the open airplane door as she is about to make the plunge. Even though she agreed to do this three weeks ago, it doesn’t matter now. She is no longer on the ground. It’s real now.
In our day-to-day lives, terror can strike at any moment. Some of us however, just seem to have a proclivity to the fear of certain things.
Many have tried to identify the source of these phobias throughout history, and I have read some pretty fascinating theories; but they are just that, theories. We still don’t really know for sure what truly causes these terrifying vortexes in our minds. We will go into some of these theories a little later in this article though.
For now, I think we should explore exactly what we are dealing with. There are certain phobias that seem to impact larger portions of the population than others.
Have you ever wondered what the top 10 phobias that plague humanity are? Well, thanks to a study conducted by YouGov, using a decently sized sample of 2,088 adults, we have been given a pretty good idea.
Here are our 10 most common phobias:
10. A Fear of Clowns
That’s right! They actually made the list. Although having a fear of clowns is not considered to be a recognized phobia, some are pushing for it to become established. Afterall, it did make the top ten list!
Currently known as Coulrophobia, a whopping four percent of the participants of this study said that they were very afraid of clowns. An additional eight percent of the participants said that they were a little afraid of them.
It has been difficult to pinpoint exactly where the fear of clowns could have come from. Afterall, clowns have (from their origin) been a method of entertainment in comedy acts and children’s birthday parties. Clearly though, there has been a societal shift in our perception of clowns.
The cause of Coulrophobia may be due to the mystery of what lies beneath that poofy, red nose and makeup.
Others have speculated that the fear of clowns has spawned from the entertainment industry. In the recent decades, Hollywood has done a pretty good job portraying clowns as sinister with blockbusters like IT.
9. A Fear of Crowds
Ah, it looks like we are more antisocial than we would like to admit. There are many different categorizations of one that fears crowds, but the most common is agoraphobia.
According to the study, four percent of the participants said that they were very afraid of crowds. But, don’t let this single digit number belittle the seventeen percent of participants that said they were a little afraid of crowds.
Given our very unfortunate and ever increasing number of mass casualty shootings in America, it is understandable that agoraphobia is becoming more common.
Contrary to the historic saying, ‘we have strength in numbers,’ some are finding that they actually feel vulnerable in numbers.
8. A Fear of Flying On A Plane
This one is completely understandable. Afterall, humans were not designed to be 40,000 feet above the ground! Having a fear of flying is most commonly known at aviophobia.
Seventeen Percent of the participants said that they were a little afraid of flying, while at only ten percentage points fewer than that, seven percent said that they were very afraid. In fact, it is not uncommon at all for air passengers to consume alcohol while in the air to help cope with their jitters.
Flying can be a very nerve-racking experience for many. But why? Well, it turns out that there are numerous factors that play into it. From the fact that we weren’t naturally designed to fly, to something as simple as a fear of ear discomfort for those who have sensitive ears; there are no shortage of reasons to fear being in an aluminum tube, blasting through the clouds. Most of the time though, everything is perfectly fine during a flight.
7. A Fear of Needles or Getting Vaccinated
Vaccinations are an important way of life for us in the modern world. Through the wonders of modern medicine and vaccines, we have successfully eradicated many deadly illnesses. This is great, but it still doesn’t help those suffering from trypanophobia.
According to the study, eight percent of participants said they were very afraid of needles, while sixteen percent said that they were a little afraid of them. This isn’t very surprising though, because a sharp needle inching toward your arm, leg, or ass does look rather menacing in that moment.
It is speculated that this is due to the introduction of vaccinations, administered to us from a very young age. Afterall, it has only been relatively recent that parents were encouraged to vaccinate their babies.
Coincidentally, some studies have shown that the cases of individuals with trypanophobia have also increased within this same timeframe.
Although we may not vividly remember these vaccines as infants, we do learn to associate needles with pain, potentially leaving a lasting imprint in our minds.
6. A Fear of Mice
Eek! The stereotypical sound one makes when they spot a mouse. These rodents are not only a nuisance, but have also been the cause of a great deal of terror for centuries.
Musophobia is more common than you might think. Referring back to the study, nine percent of participants said that they were very afraid of mice. Seventeen percent said that they were a little afraid of mice.
They might seem cute and cuddly, but there is actually a very real and understandable reason for musophobia’s existence. Research has actually tied the phobia of mice to genetic memories.
Mice have always been known to carry deadly diseases. The theory is that since we have always been cautious around mice because contact with one could result in severe illness, or even death; we have genetically passed this information to our children. Essentially causing them to know to avoid mice without really knowing why. Crazy stuff, right?
5. A Fear of Being Closed in A Small Space
We all have a personal bubble. For many of us, if someone or something enters into our personal bubble for any extended amount of time, it can be uncomfortable.
So much so that you’d actually think claustrophobia would rank higher on this list. You’d be wrong though. With only fourteen percent of participants reporting that they are very afraid of being closed in small spaces, and only twenty nine percent of them saying that they are a little afraid of being closed in small spaces; there is certainly room for other phobias to be more prevalent.
Much like a fear of crowds, people tend to feel vulnerable when they are confined and unable to move freely.
4. A Fear of Spiders
That’s right! The creepy, crawly, eight legged creatures boast a fear level of four on this list. I am sure you figured that they would make it onto this list. Maybe because you suffer from arachnophobia yourself.
If this is true about you, don’t feel bad. According to the study, eighteen percent of participants said that they were very afraid of spiders and twenty four percent said that they were a little afraid of them.
Strong evidence suggests that much like mice, a fear of spiders is likely also tied to genetic memories. After all, there are a large amount of spider species that are venomous.
It would make sense for us to pass along genetic information that keeps our offspring safe.
3. A Fear of Public Speaking
And yet again, this list gets more terrifying. Glossophobia was present in fifty six percent of the participants of the study. With twenty percent of them saying that they were very afraid and thirty six percent of them saying that they were a little afraid.
Many have tried to pinpoint exactly where this widespread fear of public speaking has come from. At this point, it is still only speculation.
However, the most accepted theory points to humanity’s’ roots. For the majority of the time that humans have inhabited the Earth, we have been largely dependant on groups for survival.
Groups have been so important, in fact, that the thought of not belonging to one was and still is extremely terrifying.
What could potentially get you kicked out of a group? Standing up and speaking up. So essentially, you could say that glossophobia is directly related to the fear of rejection (Rhabdophobia) without us even realizing it.
2. A Fear of Snakes
Coming in at number two, ophidiophobia ranked pretty well among the respondents. Not only are snakes slithery and slimy looking, but many of them are also potentially deadly; just like spiders.
Twenty one percent said they are very afraid of snakes and thirty one percent said that they are a little afraid of them. It’s not difficult to imagine why either.
Much like mice and spiders, ophidiophobia can likely be attributed to genetic memories that have been passed down from our ancestors. After all, it would behoove the survival of the human race to have a healthy fear of these reptiles.
Although a fear of public speaking seemed to have a higher total percentage (56%) of participants that identified with it, a fear of snakes still won between the two(and came in at number 2 on this list) because the number of participants that said they were very afraid was higher.
1. A Fear of Heights
Ahh, the greatest common fear of all. Acrophobia is no joke. According to the study, twenty three percent of all participants said that they are very afraid of heights, while thirty five percent said that they are a little afraid.
Not only do heights allow us to envision ourselves plummeting to our death or, if nothing else, a very unpleasant and painful landing; there is also a known psychological reason for the phobia.
If a person is not used to looking down on the world, they will naturally overestimate vertical distances. Simply because their brain is not yet trained to observe things from this perspective.
Some evidence suggests that, as with many other things, continued exposure to heights will help train your mind to perceive distances accurately and become more familiar with this perspective. However, if you are trying to cure your acrophobia, please be careful. It stands to reason that the more often you subject yourself to high vantage points, the higher chances you’ll have of injuring yourself from a fall.