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The 20 Most Common Phobias in the World

A phobia is much more serious in nature than standard fear. One, this is because a phobia is persistent. Two, this is because a phobia is excessive. Three, this is because a phobia is unrealistic.

Unsurprisingly, phobias can have huge influence over people's choices, though the exact extent can see a fair amount of variation based on the subject of the phobia.

For example, someone with a phobia of clowns shouldn't see too much disruption to their day-to-day lives because they can just stay away from clowns as well as places where they might encounter clowns. In contrast, someone with a phobia of open spaces might have to change their entire lifestyle unless they can bring their phobia under some measure of control.

20. Monophobia

Monophobia is the phobia of being alone. To an extent, it is understandable. After all, we are social animals, meaning that we are supposed to be surrounded by other humans. In fact, if we don't interact with other people on a regular basis, that has serious consequences for our personal well-being, so much so that loneliness has been compared to obesity as well as smoking. With that said, people with monophobia take this to an excess, which can make even common tasks such as eating and sleeping a serious hassle for them as well as their loved ones.

19. Xenophobia

Xenophobia is a concept that most people should be familiar with to some extent. Generally speaking, most people will be most familiar with xenophobia in the form of racism, whether in their home countries or somewhere else in the world. However, it is important to note that xenophobia is more encompassing than that because it is the fear of that which is considered to be either foreign or otherwise strange. As such, it is perfectly possible for xenophobia to show up in non-race-related contexts.

18. Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is a mouthful. This is hilarious because hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia means a fear of long words. In short, there are some people who feel incredible unease when they come upon long words. Sometimes, this is because they are concerned about being mocked when they pronounce them. However, there are plenty of other concerns with plenty of other causes as well.

17. Hemophobia

It is perfectly normal for people to be concerned by the sight of blood. After all, blood is a precious, life-sustaining substance that is supposed to remain inside of people, meaning there is a high chance that something is wrong when interested individuals can see blood out and about. With that said, people with hemophobia are fearful of blood to an extreme extent, which is perhaps unsurprising when a lot of cases started out with said individuals having some kind of very painful or very traumatic experience.

16. Trypanophobia

Unsurprisingly, most people aren't too enthused about having needles puncture their skin. However, there are some people who have particularly strong reactions to needles, thus making them sufferers from trypanophobia. No one knows the exact causes of the phobia, but that hasn't stopped interested individuals from offering a wide range of guesses. Certainly, being injected with a needle can result in an unpleasant sensation. Furthermore, needles are often associated with bad memories, not least because needles tend to be associated with something more serious than just a standard, run of the mill cold.

15. Necrophobia

Most people find dead things wrong on an instinctual level. This makes plenty of sense seeing as how dead things are just crawling with who knows what, meaning that it is a good idea to avoid them as much as possible. On top of that, dead things are a reminder of . . . well, death, which is about as universal a fear as fears get.

14. Trypophobia

Trypophobia is one of those phobias that can sound ridiculous on initial consideration but becomes less so with further thought. In short, trypophobia is a fear of holes, but it isn't used for big holes so much as clusters of small holes, clusters of small bumps, and other irregular patterns. There is some speculation that trypophobia might have biological causes because said phobia is sometimes triggered by things that should cause concern to interested individuals. For example, trypophobia can be triggered by holes made by insects. Likewise, trypophobia can be triggered by certain wounds as well as certain kinds of diseases that disfigure the skin.

13. Ophidiophobia

Ophidiophobia is the fear of snakes. However, there are times when interested individuals might come upon herpetophobia used instead, which is a more generic fear of reptiles. Regardless, ophidiophobia is another example of a phobia that people think might have biological causes. Essentially, the speculation is that our brains are naturally wired to pick up on the presence of snakes before pointing them out as threats because that would have been critical for the survival of our ancestors in a way that it isn't for us.

12. Cynophobia

Cynophobia is when someone has an excessive fear of dogs. This is one of the phobias that can have a very noticeable effect on a person's lifestyle because there are millions and millions of dogs in just the United States. Never mind the rest of the world. When it exists in a mild form, cynophobia isn't particularly bad. However, when someone finds that they are actually making changes to how they live their lives because of their fear of running into dogs, they might want to visit a licensed mental health professional to get some professional assistance sooner rather than later.

11. Mysophobia

Mysophobia is the fear of germs as well as being contaminated by germs. As such, it is one of those phobias that show up a lot in media. In particular, interested individuals might have seen depictions of it in which someone engages in compulsive hand washing, which is one of the most famous manifestations of the phobia.

10. Astraphobia

Astraphobia is sometimes called by other names such as brontophobia, keraunophobia, and tonitrophobia. In short, it is the fear of thunder as well as lightning, which can be debilitating during thunderstorms when it comes to the more serious cases. Generally speaking, astraphobia is found in children rather than adults who will grow out of it as they get older. However, there are plenty of people who either never grow out of astraphobia, or develop astraphobia as adults for one reason or another.

9. Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is sometimes believed to be a fear of open spaces. However, while there are some people who suffer from a form of agoraphobia that causes them to be scared of being out in open spaces, it is more complicated than that. In short, agoraphobia is characterized by sufferers experiencing anxiety when they feel that their environment is unsafe. Open spaces can trigger such symptoms, but so can everything from crowds to the outdoors. Agoraphobia can be very detrimental for those who are unfortunate enough to suffer from it, but there are mental health professionals who can help should sufferers find their case impairing their work, their socialization, and the rest of their day-to-day life.

8. Social Phobia

Sometimes called social anxiety disorder, social phobia is when someone has an irrational fear of being judged, rejected, and otherwise evaluated in a negative manner. Due to this, people with this issue tend to avoid social situation, which tends to make their social life much, much worse. It is common for people to confuse social phobia with shyness, but social phobia is a much stronger problem, so much so that people who suffer from it can't get a handle on it in the same way that someone can overcome their shyness.

7. Nyctophobia

Humans aren't nocturnal animals. As a result, when we are out and about in the darkness, we tend to be more alert than when we are out and about during the daytime. This is perfectly sensible, not least because we have a much harder time seeing where we are going under such circumstances. In any case, nyctophobia can be used for a fear of the darkness as well as a fear of what the darkness might be concealing. The problem is most common in children, but it isn't exactly an uncommon occurrence in adults.

6. Arachnophobia

Spiders tend not to be very threatening to humans. Most spiders are harmless to humans. If anything, we tend to be much more potentially harmful to them than they are to us because we are so much bigger in size. However, phobias being phobias, people who suffer from arachnophobia aren't exactly rational when it comes to the subjects of their fear. It is unclear how people pick up arachnophobia. For that matter, it is possible that there are multiple causes, with examples ranging from it being learned from other people to it being a product of past trauma.

5. Aerophobia

The statistics say that air travel is acutally safer than driving a car. Unfortunately, people don't get their phobias by conducting a cold, rational examination of the relevant numbers. Regardless, the relevant point is that aerophobia causes people to avoid flying, which is something that can have catastrophic consequences for their lives if their travel plans get affected too badly too frequently by this particular issue.

4. Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia is when someone is stuck in a tight, crowded space without being able to escape from it. As such, elevators, crowded rooms, and even small cars can be no-go zones for people suffering from a particularly bad case of the phobia. Claustrophobia is very common, but in most cases, people can manage to some extent. It is speculated by some specialists that claustrophobia is a so-called prepared phobia, meaning that humans are predisposed to it because it helped our ancestors survive the environments in which they found themselves. For obvious reasons, this is difficult to determine, meaning that more research is still needed on the matter.

3. Acrophobia

Acrophobia is when someone is fearful of heights. Like claustrophobia, it is suspected that acrophobia might be something that we are predisposed towards because it helped our ancestors avoid situations that could have resulted in them killing themselves by falling off of high places. Nowadays, we can get treatment, but in the distant past, that kind of thing would have made those unfortunate enough to fall very vulnerable to predators and other potential threats, which isn't even considering whether they could have recovered from such injuries or not.

2. Thanatophobia

Thanatos was the Greek personification of death. He was distinct from Hades in that Hades was the ruler of the underworld whereas Thanatos was the representation of the process of death. As such, Thanatos was considered to be both merciless and indiscriminate, which speaks volumes about how the ancient Greeks perceived death. Unsurprisingly, we don't perceive death in any better light under normal circumstances. However, there are some people who take the fear of death to extremes, thus resulting in thanatophobia.

1. Glossophobia

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. It is common, so much so that some people think that there are more individuals who experience some kind of anxiety when speaking in public than individuals who do not. With that said, people with glossophobia go beyond anxiety, which can result in serious impairment in the relevant scenarios. Curiously, someone with glossophobia doesn't necessarily suffer similar issues when doing other things in public. For example, there are people who are about anxious about speaking in public but can either dance, sing, or put on other performances in public with no issues whatsoever.

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Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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