Phobias, aversions and fear

A while ago I read a blog post where someone mentioned a phobia by a term that I didn’t recognize. So I looked it up in Wikipedia:

Trypophobia is an aversion to the sight of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes, or bumps.

This affected me in ways that are hard to explain.

I don’t have Trypophobia and never heard of it before, but the mention of this term led me into the internet rabbit hole where I did some deep digging into other phobias, and aversions. (Sorry, wasn’t meant as a pun…)

Several things popped into my head:

Years ago, I stumbled onto a blog of a young woman on the threshold of getting married. She was living in San Fransisco in an apartment building where the tenants set up a table in the hall for the purpose of exchanging unwanted items. I don’t recall her name, or the name of the blog, but one thing did come up: wooden spoons.

Someone had placed some wooden spoons on the exchange table and she launched into this huge thing about how they gross her out.

Wooden spoons?

I was perplexed. I’m more of a natural product person than a plastic person, although I own both wooden and plastic spoons for cooking (spatulas are plastic)…

It never occurred to me that you could have an aversion to something like wood.

Then I read the comments. OMG…there are tons of people who have the same aversion.

Isn’t this fascinating?

So, me being me, I dug deeper. I researched the aversion of holes and bumps and wondered where, or how, such a thing is developed. At one point, my research indicated that back in the day before modern medicine, people might have developed deep feelings of aversion toward wounds, the type you might incur during war. Wounds that would get infected, filled with pus, or maggots…

But how does one develop this fear of holes, or irregular patterns, today?

I am not unfamiliar with this topic. I have my own, strange aversions…

I remember back a few years ago I was sent a picture of baby bunnies in a hole. Rabbits live in holes in the ground, hidden behind bushes or foliage. The picture of these furry little creatures inside their hole caused an immediate reaction of aversion in me.

But why? I’m seriously confused at the strange, psychological reaction this image evoked in me.

I like bunnies. I like watching them hop around stealing my kale and lettuce in my garden…I think they’re cute and cuddly and the delightful shrieks of small children add to the joy. (Never mind that I no longer plant eatable gardens in my backyard…)

But the baby bunnies in the hole…


I continued with my search of phobias and came across Steve Jobs. Did you know he had an aversion for buttons? The kind that are on clothing I believe, not computer buttons, although perhaps there is something to be said about those, too. I mean, his products are all swipe style…

The Spectator posted an article by Anne Jolis who interviewed Steve Jobs about his aversion:

‘I wouldn’t call it a phobia,’ he said, ‘but I don’t like to look at them, don’t like them touching my skin or knowing they’re even there. I don’t run away screaming but it gives me a general level of the creeps that I have to think about it to not let it bother me.’

The official term for a fear or aversion to buttons is called Koumpounophobia. You can google the term, there’s quite a bit posted about this, but don’t bother with Wiki, there isn’t much there.

Something happened to me when I was a child that involved buttons. I wrote a story on this which I may include in my memoir.

Side note: I will post the first chapter of my memoir soon, as promised, for those of you who have expressed interest. Thank you for your comments.

But back to my topic of aversions and phobias. They are real, and more understood today than in the past. They are classified as part of the mental health spectrum. The internet has many examples, explanations, and offers of cures or treatment for people who wish to address their phobias. Yet, they remain, to degrees, a shameful part of one’s existence. Sometimes, people go to great lengths to hide their phobias from the people around them.

Perhaps more needs to be written about this to better understand.

Tell me, do you have a fear or aversion of something? Have you been teased, or called names because of something that may appear weird to others?

Do you have a phobia?



26 thoughts on “Phobias, aversions and fear

  1. This is so interesting.. hmm what about a phobia with certain colors? The blue color .. not baby blue maybe a robins egg color .. when I see a car or someone wearing it I have to look away it’s nauseating to me ..strange right.. but can’t help wonder why I react this way. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We watch hockey here and so far, the only thing that’s nauseating is the smell of the equipment after my son’s game or practice. You know, teenaged boys in youth sports. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I really think someone should write about how we’ve been all trained to not share our aversions. That’s probably why people hear about them and say, “wow…that’s nutz” or something along those lines. Anywho, I really don’t like bodily fluids, like blood, vomit, poop, etc. This was an issue when my children were younger (as you might imagine). But even currently, for example, when the dentist is describing some horrid thing in either of my daughters’ mouths and follows up with, “would you like to see?” My answer is…ummm no, unless you want to clean up my vomit in your office lol

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, Claudette! I liked this post. Really interesting. Who knew about Steve Jobs?! Wowza! Weird phobia, eh?!

    I guess that’s why you asked about my aversions in my “Ask Me Anything” post. As soon as I read the question I knew exactly what my answer would be, I guess that means it IS a real phobia of mine. I’ll answer your question next week though. Thanks for playing along in my little “Reader Request Friday” game. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had to skip some of this for obvious reasons but yes…I realized it in the 4th grade when I had a internally aggressive reaction and physical reaction to a picture in a book that I still can’t talk about. I found out last year my youngest daughter has it too. And I had never talked about it with her. My whole back feels itchy just writing this much. Thank you for acknowledging the difference between fear and aversion where this is concerned. When people see it labeled as a fear/phobia, is when the taunting usually happened. As in “how could anyone be AFRAID of _____?” I only started studying it two years ago when I finally realized how many people suffer from it, why and that it is, indeed, a thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t wear anything with buttons. When I wash other people’s clothes I have to be careful not to touch them. Creeps me out. Typing it out gives me the willies. I hear you. Sigh.


  5. I am irrationally afraid of black crickets (gryllus pennsylvanicus).
    When I was a little girl, my mad grandmother told there were giant crickets with horns in her basement that ate little red haired girls. Yeah. That’ll do it.
    When my girls were little, they knew they had to “get” the black crickets because I simply could not.

    My true pathological fear is of smothering. I can’t even handle breathing overly warm air. I don’t know what’s that’s about, and it may be better left alone than knowing.
    What a thought provoking post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t think it’s a phobia – but I have a slight aversion to scissors when they are around my face. Like when you get a haircut and they are finishing up with scissors and they cut across your bangs. If I think about it too much I have to squeeze my eyes shut because they freak me out – like they are going to go in my eye or something.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I used to have no fear of wading through uncut grass or trolling near muddy ponds, trying dirt paths next to the end of the lake but now I view with deep suspicion these areas for snakes or alligators. It seems there are more and more stories in Florida. Today, we rode past a cow pasture with these deep ponds nearby and I wondered if there weren’t any alligators and if so, wouldn’t they attack the cattle. I also belong to a facebook page about identifying snakes. I would say I have a phobia or heightened interest in avoiding them.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, Many of us have some familiarity with sink holes. I once has a student from Denmark who told me his mother was worried about sink holes which might swallow him when he moved to Florida for college. So far, I have no personal experience with sink holes!!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I noticed as I got older (or maybe since I’ve become a parent) that deep water does make me feel a little uncomfortable nowadays. It didn’t before…hm. 😉 Wonder if we develop aversions or phobias or if it’s a physiological thing.

      Liked by 1 person

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