Unusual Phobias You’ve Probably Never Heard About

Phobias cause extreme, overwhelming anxiety whenever a person who has one encounters a specific object or idea. In most cases, people with phobias understand that they’re acting irrationally, but their subconscious still produces immense distress. Some of the more common phobias include arachnophobia (fear of spiders) and claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces), but there are hundreds of other phobias to learn about. The fears of numbers, bathing, and men’s facial hair all have their own classified medical terms. How many of these phobias do you know, and how many could you never have guessed exist?

Two foods have sparked their own specific phobias. Can you guess which ones?

Fear Of Peanut Butter Sticking To The Roof Of Your Mouth

Close up of peanut butter in a spoon phobia arachibutyrophobia
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No one enjoys the feeling of peanut butter sticking to the room of their mouth. But for some people, that uncomfortable sensation has grown into a full phobia — arachibutyrophobia, to be exact. Those suffering from the condition either avoid peanut butter altogether or only eat tiny amounts.

Some believe that arachibutyrophobia originates from pseudodysphagia, the fear of choking. After all, peanut butter is one of the most common choking hazards. Others believe that it could be linked to anxiety surrounding sticky textures or a peanut allergy that appears in nearly three million Americans.

Fear Of Garlic

GPS Garlic phobia Alliumphobia
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Alliumphobia, of the fear of garlic, causes more severe symptoms than simply disliking the flavor. Those with alliumphobia may shake, hyperventilate, or detach from reality when they smell garlic or similar pungent odors such as chives and shallots.

Psychologists believe that most people who have this phobia acquired it either from trauma or a genetic sensitivity to smell. Those with alliumphobia may shy away from social interactions for fear of others’ opinions, leading to more significant mental illnesses.

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Fear Of Bathing

Ken and Renee Metrick's Condo fear of bathing showering cleaning Ablutophobia
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Ablutophobia plagues those who have an overwhelming fear of bathing, cleaning, or washing. Those with the disorder may face panic attacks or difficulty breathing should they confront baths, or in some cases, think about it. It is more common in women than in men.

Although specific phobias like ablutophobia aren’t well understood, most believe that they originate from a traumatic experience and/or genetics. Ablutophobia may lead to social isolation due to the stigma surrounding uncleanliness, so it’s crucial that sufferers seek out appropriate treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Fear Of Having Objects On One Side Of Your Body

Transportations In Tokyo fear of objects on right side left side phobia dextrophobia levophobia
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Those with dextrophobia fear having objects at the right side of their body. On the flipside, people with levophobia fear having things at the left side of their body. Both disorders are believed to have roots in obsessive-compulsive disorder.

People with either phobia may struggle to drive and stick to either side of the road. They may grapple with overcoming their fear as well, since their obsessive habits make discussing the disorder an arduous task.

Fear Of Stars

night sky fear of stars siderophobia
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The fear of stars, or siderophobia, differs from the rest on this list because it thrives on existential dread. Those who struggle with the condition feel exposed or helpless under the immense size of the universe when they observe the stars.

Siderophobes often close their windows around nighttime and avoid walking outside. Along with anxiety symptoms, they may feel unsafe, meaningless, or like they’re losing their mind. Therapy can help people with siderophobia understand how they matter within our vast universe.

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Fear Of Numbers

Studying and learning on computer children's illustration fear of numbers math equations arithmophobia numerophobia
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People all over the world may fear specific numbers such as 13 or 666, which represent bad luck and evil, respectively. However, an individual with arithmophobia (also called numerophobia) has the persistent and irrational fear of all kinds of numbers, specifically in challenging mathematical equations.

Some experts believe that arithmophobia may have begun thousands of years ago when humanity first began to grasp that numbers are infinite, varying, and complex. The phobia could also have roots in trauma, especially if a child received punishment for struggling in math.

Fear Of Wealth

Money US dollar banknotes fear of wealth phobia plutophobia
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Someone with plutophobia fears becoming wealthy, or meeting wealthy people. These people may potentially sabotage their careers to prevent themselves from becoming too affluent. The fear likely cultivates from social conditioning or one’s childhood environment.

Psychologists believe that the phobia roots itself in a distrust in oneself and others. Plutophobes may fear the responsibilities and anxieties they acquire with wealth. Or, they might expect others to rob them or guilt them into lending money. Certain rich people also have a reputation of being “greedy” and “untrustworthy,” proof that plutophobia is a genuine condition.

Fear Of New Ideas

Japan's telecom giant Softbank president Ken Miyauchi with comedian Tsukasa Saito new ideas phobia ideophobia

Ideophobia is an anxiety disorder in which one abhors new ideas. Those living with the condition prefer living in their comfort zone and not opening their minds to new thoughts. Ideophobes’ opinions or ideas may have been shot down in the past, which could develop into the phobia.

In most cases, ideophobia will disappear as the person grows older. However, this does not prevent the sufferer from experiencing setbacks in goals and socializing, as those with the condition tend to isolate themselves.

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Fear Of Knees And Kneeling

Mario Mandzukic holds his knee in pain fear of kneeling Genuphobia

Genuphobia is the fear of knees. The severity can range from fearing other peoples’ uncovered knees, to evading seeing knees on TV, to avoiding their own knees. In some circumstances, the phobia can be traced to strict religious upbringing or witnessing a gruesome knee injury. Certain cases have no apparent cause at all.

The fear of kneeling also falls under the term genuphobia, although some may consider it a separate disorder. Kneeling represents submission and vulnerability, which may develop into the phobia.

Fear Of Facial Hair

Coachella festival goer fear of beards facial hair pogonophobia
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A more common condition than one might think, pogonophobia is the fear of beards. The phobia originates with cultural attitudes, such as fictional villains often being portrayed with facial hair. In some strict religious communities, men are required to grow out their facial hair. Beards also may suggest a “ruggedness” or “uncleanliness” that disturbs people with this condition.

Although pogonophobia mainly appears in women, people all around this U.S. may struggle with this fear. This explains why the majority of political candidates today remain clean-shaven to “earn the trust in the minds of their voters.”

Fear Of Head Hair

Actress Holly Robinson Peete fear of hair phobia chaetophobia
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People with chaetophobia want nothing to do with grooming their hair. They feel disgusted and anxious around loose hairs and other peoples’ hair. Many avoid hair salons and barber shops because they believe that the hair will harm them, despite understanding that this anxiety is irrational.

Cheatophobia differs from trichopathobia, the fear of hair disease and going bald. Cheatophobia forms from the assumption that hair is dirty, possibly from the cheatophobe or a relative suffering from skin conditions. Those obsessed with hygiene and cleanliness have a higher likelihood of developing the disorder.

Can you guess which color has its own classified phobia?

Fear Of Symmetry

China BMW Auto Show fear of symmetry symmetrophobia
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Someone with symmetrophobia, the fear of symmetry, faces intense anxiety at the thought or sight of objects appearing symmetrical. Often, this phobia is connected to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as the symmetrophobe frets over keeping their surroundings as asymmetrical as possible.

Depending on the severity of the symptoms, symmetrophobes might even struggle to finish reading symmetrical sentences or focus on their job. They may constantly fiddle with their surroundings and avoid certain architecture. Sufferers can overcome this phobia through therapy and medication, if appropriate.

Fear Of The Color Yellow

color yellow xanthophobia unusual phobias
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People with xanthophobia, the fear of the color yellow, struggle to approach everyday life. From taxis to streetlights to road markings, yellow occupies our civilization. Psychology dictates that yellow evokes certain emotions such as frustration and aggression, which may double for those with specific genetic sensitivities.

Sufferers may feel lonely and helpless from those around them oversimplifying their fear. They may aim to avoid the color entirely, which is harder than it sounds. In some cases, even hearing or reading the word “yellow” may trigger symptoms.

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Fear Of Sitting Down

Riocentro Expo Centre in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil fear of sitting kathisophobia thaasophobia

Also known as thaasophobia, kathisophobia is the irrational fear of sitting down, and subsequently an inability to sit still. Personal who regularly experience pain while sitting may develop kathisophobia. The disorder could also stem from a protective mechanism in those who relate sitting to the feeling of being trapped.

Medical conditions can spark the phobia, such as with mothers after labor, or older sufferers who struggle to stand up again. In extreme cases, indirect mentions of sitting featured on TV or in conversation can trigger intense anxiety and nausea.

Fear Of Strings

handspun cotton hanging to dry fear of strings Linonophobia
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Linonophobia, the fear of strings, possibly relates to the fear of being tied up or restricted. Linonophobes may have experienced being tied up in the past, or witnessed punishments in the media that involved someone being roped into place.

Though most have no problem wearing regular clothes, shoes with laces or pronounced stitching may set off their anxiety. Hereditary factors play a significant role in linonophobia, as the idea of tying triggers their “fight or flight” reflex, which appears more easily with those who have the genetic predisposition for it.

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Fear Of Gold

Senegalese gold jewelry Smithsonian fear of gold aurophobia
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Aurophobia gives people intense anxiety upon encountering gold, either in jewelry or decor. A gold allergy, which results in severe inflammation upon contact, can cultivate the disorder. Other aurophobes may avoid the color for its deep symbolism in death or wealth.

People with this condition may experience nausea, sweating, or an irregular heartbeat upon seeing gold nearby. Even fool’s gold can trigger these symptoms since the afflicted can’t often confirm whether the gold is real or not.

Fear Of Poems

rare handwritten poem by Anne Frank fear of poetry metrophobia
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The fear of reading and writing poetry, metrophobia, occurs commonly in students. The idea that poetry is “beyond” people, belonging only to the pretentious and highly educated, may spark their disgust with poetry. Educators breaking peoples’ poems down through artificial scales can also produce the phobia.

Most sufferers cope with metrophobia by avoiding classes covering poetry, although they still might notice poems on greeting cards and in books. Therapy can help metrophobes understand that poetry transcends technical or educated writing, and learn to enjoy it more.

What happens when you can never walk outside due to your phobia?

Fear Of Light

Worlds Indigenous Peoples Day In Dhaka fear of light phobia photophobia
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While some may develop headaches from sensitivity to light, people with photophobia cannot handle light at all. As opposed to phtoaugiaphobia (fear of bright lights), photophobes avoid all kinds of light, possibly relating the brightness to alien sources or evil spirits.

Certain medical conditions, especially eye or nervous disorders, are known to cause photophobia. These conditions result in intense pain from surrounding light, which forces the brain to associate brightness with pain. This phobia makes daily activities much harder for an individual, eventually isolating them.

Fear Of Flutes

Christian Dante White plays his cane like a flute fear of flutes aulophobia
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A surprisingly common phobia, aulophobia (the fear of flutes) causes abnormal distress in those who hear the music or see the instrument. Psychologists believe that the high-pitched sound of flutes may induce stress in those sensitive to the noise.

The American Psychological Association reports that humans prefer melodic sounds over discordant ones, because our brains associate high-pitched noises with crying and screams. However, aulophobes experience significant dread and panic at flute music, which may interrupt their daily lives.

Fear Of Gravity

Half Moon During The Day fear of gravity barophobia weird phobias
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There are two types of barophobia, the overwhelming fear of gravity. One is defined by the fear that we will be crushed should the gravitational pull become too strong; the other stems from the thought that gravity may disappear, causing everyone to float away.

Symptoms vary, as some people may feel uncomfortable at the thought of gravity, whereas others experience panic attacks when the thought arises. Barophobia may have started with an experience as small as reading or watching a piece of fiction that featured intense gravity changes.