When reading the article “My precious smartphone”, you come to realize that you have also experienced some of the symptoms of Nomophobia (NO MObile PHone phoBIA) described in it – at least once in your life as a simple modern mobile phone user.
There are many times when you felt your mobile vibrate when that was not the case; times when you went out with friends and exchanged likes on social media instead of actually talking; times when you were “watching” a movie in the cinema but, in reality, spent its duration endlessly signing in on Facebook to check your notifications; times when, secretly, you didn’t really enjoy a dessert if your selfie in front of it hadn’t been posted beforehand… And, while you may argue that these are perfectly normal reactions to modern way of life, science says otherwise. So, in the end, I couldn’t help but wonder… How many of these modern behaviors are listed and characterized as phobias?
I have to admit, that after conducting a brief research on the issue, I was impressed! And so I decided to share its results, for purely informative reasons and without any intention to trespass on scientific “fields” but, rather, in order to approach the matter at hand from a therapeutic perspective.
So what are modern people afraid of?
Today, there are more than 100 listed types of obsessions and phobias, some of which are already known to everyone and others that can sound rather “strange”. Some may even seem funny; while others are shared by so many people that they can be regarded as normal responses.
Orthorexia nervosa… when healthy nutrition becomes a nightmare!
We all believe that we should exercise regularly while also following a program of healthy nutrition in order to maintain our youth and good health. Besides, healthy nutrition has become something of a trend, since all of us to some degree have tried bio-products and alternative vegan recipes – even just out of curiosity. So far so good. But what happens when healthy nutrition becomes… too healthy? Actually, today there are records of increasingly more people who reach extremes when it comes to healthy nutrition. Orthorexia nervosa is an unhealthy obsession, which drives a person to restrict themselves in consuming strictly foods deemed healthy, thus constantly following a detox diet. These people usually feel guilty or even depressed when failing to stick to this diet. They tend to isolate themselves socially, due to fear that they will be carried away and eat something they “shouldn’t”; also they have lost the ability to enjoy meals since they focus solely on its nutritional value and calories.
Insufficient sleep syndrome
Doctors say that the average adult needs at least eight hours of continuous sleep in order to stay healthy and ensure vitality and spiritual clarity during the day. However, in the last decade, the average sleep duration among adults has declined to five hours. Modern lifestyle, stress and preoccupation with social media systematically rob hours of our sleep; and this is deemed normal and acceptable by all. Despite this fact, scientists report that this is, indeed, a syndrome, which can very well cause greater disturbances to the organism, should it become chronic. I refer you to the article “In the arms of Morpheus” for further, scientifically based, information regarding sleep.
There is no doubt that keeping our body and living environment clean is very important for our health. Yet disinfecting and constantly cleaning is considered an extremely obsessive behavior; as well as being repulsed by touching anything that hasn’t turned orange by the known to everyone pharmaceutical germicide. These extreme behaviors constitute a type of psychosis: scientists have located its cause as the result of generalized depression and a lack of pleasure and joy of life. In the last fifteen years, another phenomenon is also on the rise: that of young mothers being so over-protective of their offspring that they try to keep them in a, as far as possible, aseptically clean environment. How many times have you lately visited friends’ houses and been told to remove your shoes at the door so that the germs that could affect their young child do not enter with you? Obviously, the problem here is not whether you remove your shoes or not. The actual problem is that these children do not develop the antibodies they should; so, when facing the real world, they will be in danger of much worse infections!
Before financial crisis struck, people used to work long hours in an effort to build an esteemed career with high financial gains. In the years of crisis, the cause for long working hours – of those still regularly employed – shifted, and are rather related to financial survival. One way or another, there is always a “good” reason for modern people to be professionally occupied more hours than they should! But what about the cases of people who reach the point of feeling guilty when not working – how common are they? What about those who have to justify free time for themselves just to satisfy basic needs, such as eating and sleeping? Whether due to ambition or need, modern people are used to working very hard and statistics report that they tend – more and more – to feel guilty when “stealing” time for other activities. This is a feeling that we have all, more or less, experienced some time in our lives…
“Strange” modern phobias
Theoretically, there are recorded instances of human phobias regarding virtually everything. Some of these phobias can be labeled “strange” and “rare”; we are certainly impressed when finding them listed as official psychological conditions. Anyhow, those experiencing them are definitely suffering because of them; therefore, understanding should be offered in any case. In brief:
Aviophobia: the fear to travel by plane. Rather usual, one would say; and, in the eyes of the non-specialist, pretty much justified. However, scientists do not classify it as mere fear but as a phobia.
Nyctophobia: the fear of deep darkness. This phobia is also very common – particularly in childhood. But what happens when it occurs in adulthood, when the company of a teddy bear is not sufficient to convince a person they are safe?
Fat phobia: when the fear to gain weight surpasses “common sense” and good measure. This is a very serious psychological disorder because, in essence, it paves the way for disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, that endanger one’s health and can become life-threatening.
Nosemaphobia: Molière was the first one to describe its symptoms in his theatrical play The Imaginary Invalid!
Spectrophobia: the fear to look at your mirror image. Usually, people are, more or less, in love with their mirror; actually, they tend to see what they want instead of their actual reflection. And yet it seems there are exceptions to the rule!
Arachibutyrophobia: the fear that peanut butter will stick to your palate. Yes… your eyes are not playing tricks! This is an officially listed phobia with far from laughable percentages in the US!
Anablelophobia: it is the exact opposite of acrophobia. People suffering from it are afraid to look up.
Chronophobia: no one wants to grow old; yet this phobia is something completely different. This is the extreme case when a person is irrationally afraid of time, given the fact that they cannot avoid its passing. Very often, this disorder manifests itself through the feeling that something will imminently happen to the person – a fact enough to cause a panic attack.
Homophobia: the excessive aversion and extremely violent behavior towards homosexual individuals. Science lists these behaviors as obsessions; yet one could very well not endorse their characterization as such and rather attribute them to social racism, fueled to a small or large degree by a country’s customs and the given era.
Animal related phobias
Entomophobia: when our fear for a small cockroach or the little spider hanging from the lamp surpasses the extent of simple annoyance (even accompanied by certain loud exclamations in women’s cases) and constitutes cause for a full-blown panic attack with all its typical symptoms.
Anatidaephobia: one’s fear that a duck is perpetually following them! I will not elaborate… feel free to comment!
Alektorophobia: the fear of poultry – either alive or on a platter!
Cynophobia: quite often, a dog barking persistently can cause fear in most of us – especially if it’s a dog we don’t know. But there are cases – quite a few, actually – in which fear for our four-legged friends exceeds the appropriate limit and is accompanied by manifestations of hysteria and flight.
Murophobia: the fear of mice. Since it has been listed as a psychological illness, we might as well deduce that it is somehow estrogen-related, as the case of a woman not afraid of mice (to a lesser or greater degree) is a rare phenomenon!
All of the above demonstrate the truth of the saying: “who knows what lurks in the hearts of men”! It seems as though the depths of our hearts are rather sensitive, as they can be scarred even unknowingly; or even by the most mundane, everyday stuff. Diagnosing the severity of such phobias-obsessions, as well as treating them, lies in the hands of specialized doctors. However, were we to supply a rationalistic approach, it would probably be the basic yoga principle. Accept yourself, be aware of any given circumstance you find yourself in and transmute your psychological condition, by preoccupying yourself with things that, in any case, bring you joy. And if that also fails in helping you face your fears, you shouldn’t allow yourself to develop phobias and obsessions – you’re just afraid… Remember that, out there, there are countless everyday people, just like you and me; willing to lean both their heads over us with care and affectionately wipe away the tears from all three of our eyes!