Fear Factor: A litany of phobias

Daily Prompt | Fear Factor: People are afraid of all kinds of things: spiders, the dark, or being enclosed in small spaces. Tell us about your greatest fear — rational or irrational.

S was frightened of hand-driers. He soiled himself on a few occasions because he didn’t use the bathroom on time. Once, when he was screaming in a public toilet, a person knocked on the door and in a foreign accent asked, “God, is everything OK?” His parents feared they would be accused of child abuse. Some cafes had toilets without hand-dryers in them and these became important sanctuaries. D, well, he had a weird habit of trying to take a dump while standing up, but that’s another story.

F, she was frightened of wooden spoons. If someone had OCD then you could perhaps imagine that, in the mind, the wood grain is a mine field of germs: dark little furrows protecting various kinds of contaminant. But F didn’t have OCD, she was an outgoing person. Asked about the subject she said that Wooden spoons were human-like. She was frightened by their anthropomorphism in the same way I guess Picasso was frightened by pre-Modern artefacts in the Musee Trocadéro. F’s friend tried to help by dressing some Wooden Spoons up in clothes and putting on a little puppet play. One metal spoon was used as the villain of the piece.

spoons copy

Cursors, you know the little arrows you move around to interact with most computer software? M was frightened of cursors. When M touched a mouse and saw the cursor move in relation to his own hand movements he felt disembodied. It was a sensation like vertigo and he would actually have nightmares about cursors.

A was terrified of ducks. She didn’t mind representations of ducks, whether cartoon characters like daffy duck or ceramic objects in the shape of a duck. It was something about the beak of a real duck that got to her. It seemed prehistoric. How could an otherwise soft and feathery creature whose plumage was used to stuff pillows have this hardened nail-like mouth?

M hasn’t seen daylight for a week now. He is frightened of grey skies and he lives in a country with high levels of rainfall. Black skies are ok though, so he does go out at night. N has a similar phobia, but she can overcome it by wearing coloured glasses.

To be continued…

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