Naming Your Fears

Last time I wrote about the origins of Friday the 13th.   This leads to another subject — fears, or phobias.

Fear is actually a normal protection, to keep us from doing really dumb things.  The Psychology Today website puts it this way —

Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats.  But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason.  Traumas or bad experiences can trigger a fear response within us that is hard to quell.  Yet exposing ourselves to our personal demons is the best way to move past them.  (

So if your fear becomes a phobia, you’ve got a problem.

How many phobias are there?  The website ( claims to have “about 530” listings.  Fear of the number 13 is triskaidekaphobia.   A specific fear of Friday the 13th is paraskevidekatriaphobia.

The website ( features a list of the “Top 100.”  Number one is arachnophobia  —  the fear of spiders.  Incidentally, this phobia affects women four times more than men.  By the way, number 100 is taphophobia — the fear of being buried alive by mistake and waking up in a coffin underground. (I hope you’re not reading this at bedtime.)

I think you can be afraid of just about anything and there will be a term for it, ending in the suffix -phobia.  There’s fear of paper (papyrophobia), fear of getting a haircut (tonsurephobia), and fear of colors (chromophobia).  You can use your imagination from here.

But don’t despair; all three of these websites list resources for overcoming fears. also includes an anxiety test.  So if your fears are controlling you, whatever its term is, it’s time to take that control back.


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