Nervous, the new Shawn Mendes song has been trending on Twitter. It’s the latest song from his forthcoming self-titled album, which is set to be released this Friday (25 May) and includes the lyrics “I get a little bit nervous around you“. Nervousness and irrational fear of something is known as a phobia. Avoiding the object that causes anxiety is often enough to control the problem. But for certain phobias that are unavoidable, such as a fear of flying (pteromerhanophobia) professional help may be required. Treatment options such as relaxation therapies and desensitization (repeated, controlled exposure to the object of fear) can make phobias manageable for sufferers.
We take a look at some of the strangest things that make people nervous. Here are five funny phobias that are surprisingly common.
The fear of being without or unable to use your mobile phone
Whether it’s been lost, stolen or damaged, or you’ve no signal or low battery, a recent study found around 71% of people aged 18-34 are nomophobics. It found that women were more fearful of losing their phones than men. Triggers for these fearful feelings also include leaving your phone at home when you go out or switching the phone off.
The number of mobile phone users worldwide was forecast to reach 4.77 billion in 2017 and pass five billion by 2019. In 2016, an estimated 63% of the worldwide population already owned a mobile phone. That’s a lot of sufferers.
If you obsessively look for your phone, even if you know it’s in a safe place, or constantly check your signal and battery levels, you could well be a nomophobe.
The fear of bellybuttons
Omphalophobes are afraid to touch or have their bellybuttons touched, or touch another person’s bellybutton. In fact, they are repulsed just by seeing or even thinking about a bellybutton. The fear is often linked with the association of bellybuttons with umbilical cords and a mother’s womb, and affects men and women equally.
Khloe Kardashian suffers with omphalophobia and reports felling “disgusted” just touching her belly because of her bellybutton.
Physical reactions can be extreme: crying and adopting a foetal position, running away and hiding and vomiting, which can be negatively affect one’s daily life. It is a highly treatable phobia, although not many people seek help for it.
There exists an unholy trinity: hierophobia (fear of holy individuals or sacred things); hagiophobia (fear of saints and holy things); and papaphobia (fear of the pope or papacy).
There is also ecclesiaphobia (fear of the church, organised religion or holy people).
It is generally accepted that phobias such as these arise from a combination of traumatic events and internal (hereditary or genetic) predispositions. Many can be traced back to a specific triggering event, usually at an early age.
The fear of beards
This term has been used since the 1850s and the phobia is known to affect thousands of people worldwide. Living with pogonophobia can have financial and social impacts because beards are everywhere (except American politics: the last president to wear a full beard in office was Benjamin Harrison (March 1889-March 189). William Howard Taft had a moustache during his term in the early 1900s, but Harrison was the last full beard in the office of president).
Jeremy Paxman famously accused the BBC of suffering from pogonophobia when he was criticised for presenting Newsnight with a beard. For some, the dislike was arrouised by Paxman himself, not his beard.
The fear of bells
This phobia can result in a feeling of panic, dread and doom when dealing with festive matters, such as Christmas. It’s not related to sprouts or how many family you can fit round your dining table, but the fear of bells, particularly sleigh bells.
Desensitisation is recommended, exposing the kampanaphobe to the sound of bells ringing softly, then increasing in volume and speed, encouraging them to handle a bell, or teaching them all about bells, their history and significance as an icon and their uses throughout history.
One for luck
Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words. The word consists of 36 letters. Now that’s ironic.
For more funny content read: funny overheard conversations.