We have nothing to fear but, well, lots of things
Regular readers know that I suffer from pre-traumatic stress syndrome, a psychological term I invented to describe worrywarts like myself. I feel bad for people who suffer from the better known post-traumatic stress syndrome, but they are lucky in a way because they only have to fret about one bad thing that happened to them in the past. We pre-traumatic stress sufferers have to worry about all the horrible things that COULD happen to us in the future. And there are a lot of horrible things to be worried about.
I came across a list of phobias on the Internet and decided to print it out before realizing just how bloody long the list was. The printer kept spitting out page after page of phobias, and I panicked, thinking I might have killed the laser printer. When I finally got the blasted thing to stop, I scanned the list of phobias to find "fear of accidentally printing out too many documents off the Internet," but couldn't. I did find cyberphobia, the fear of working on a computer, and "logizomechanophobia," the fear of computers in general, so that was pretty close.
Everyone is familiar with run-of-the-mill phobias like claustrophobia, the fear of closed spaces, and arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. But there are thousands of other phobias covering every aspect of life. One of the strangest, but probably prevalent in Hawaii, is consecotaleophobia, the fear of chopsticks. Those people can't go near lunch wagons or Zippy's.
One phobia that doesn't make sense is amnesiphobia, the fear of amnesia. Hey, if you come down with amnesia, you won't even remember you have amnesiphobia!
Barophobia, it turns out, isn't a fear of bars, but the fear of gravity. How can you fear gravity when the alternative is so disturbing?
Fear of bars might fall under dipsophobia, the fear of drinking, or methyphobia, the fear of alcohol. If history is any indication, I apparently suffer from neither.
Most unnatural fears can be changed to an opposite but equally bothersome condition simply by changing "phobia" to "mania." Someone with zemmiphobia fears the great mole rat, but someone with zemmimania loves the creature. A kleptophobian is afraid of stealing, while a kleptomaniac loves to steal. I once considered becoming a kleptomaniac, but I didn't really need any more stuff.
There's a word for people with a fear of long words, but the word itself is too long to even include here. It would take up the rest of the column.
Phobias aren't all unnatural. Agrizoophobia, the fear of wild animals, seems a perfectly sensible position to take. Taeniophobia, the fear of tapeworms, seems a laudable condition. And isopterophobia, the fear of termites and other wood-eating bugs, seems completely understandable. In fact, in Hawaii we have another scientific descriptive term for such a person: homeowner.
Buy Charles Memminger's hilarious new book, "Hey, Waiter, There's An Umbrella In My Drink!" at island book stores or online
at any book retailer. E-mail him at email@example.com