(Warning: This post contains images of the phobias in question).
We had movie night in our Discord last night, and we watched The Deep House, a horror movie with the interesting premise of being in an underwater house. This was a fun one because perhaps ironically, a few of us have Submechanophobia. I’m the kind of person who usually isn’t too affected by seeing media of my phobias (aside from getting a fizzy feeling in my arms or abdomen) and am mostly affected in person instead, so it was weird fun to watch a film like that, as I suppose all horror films are because nobody wants to be in a real-life one.
I’m someone with plenty of general fears, I am not very brave, but here are the specific phobias I have, and will tend to have vasovagal reactions to e.g. a lot of heart palpitations and passing out.
A fear of manmade objects in water. For years I just described this as having a fear of sea mines, because I didn’t realise the proper term for it, or how it related to other things I also didn’t like seeing underwater.
I first realised I was afraid of these things through Tomb Raider 2. Yep, Tomb Raider 2. Particularly, the giant underwater fans (see timestamp here), and the grating on the Offshore Rig that had infinitely-deep water below it. It just gave me very uncomfortable arm-stomach feeling, for a long time I actually wouldn’t get any of the secrets that required going near those fans, even though they weren’t real. The idea of being near a real one makes my extremities go numb and makes me want to curl up into a ball.
What’s so scary about underwater objects? Well, at least with sea mines and fans, there’s the risk of injury. As for why stuff that can’t injure you is scary, I don’t know. Even before TR2 I remember side-eyeing the grilles in swimming pools as a child.
If you want to tease yourself about this with a film, I do recommend The Deep House.
Traumatophobia, basically a fear of being injured. For me, this is more specifically a fear of something that will wound or draw blood. I’m definitely a Tomophobe, I feel dizzy at the thought of surgery and procedures. I’m phobic of blood tests and have horrible reactions, but it’s not the needles themselves. So really, it’s just easier to describe myself as an injury-phobe. I also don’t dislike blood per se, but seeing blood can make me feel fizzy because I realise that it probably came from a wound or incision, if that makes sense. I’m getting palpitaty just thinking about this. It’s definitely got worse in the last few years, I couldn’t give myself an ear piercing now.
Unfortunately, I’m waiting for at least two surgeries. I will be better off for having them done, of course, but it’s nerve-wracking in the meantime, and I am medically-anxious enough to be an annoying patient. Some of y’all may remember my kitchen knife accident and finger injury.
Automatonophobia. I have no idea how I got it so wrong in my brain when making this image. Automaton + o + phobia, not that hard and yet I created the above monstrosity. Anyway, this is basically a fear of human-like objects. Most bothersome for me personally are ventriloquist dummies, wax figures, and mannequins. I’m not sure what came first, but here are some distinct childhood encounters I remember disliking: Discovering the Goosebumps dummy on a book cover at a friend’s house, wax figures at Tudor House, animatronics in the magic forest at Paulton’s Park, mannequins in Debenhams.
I really don’t like to be in-person with any of these things. I’m not sure what the fear stems from. It might be from growing up with the Animism of Shinto, and believing that every object may have a spirit in it. Humanoid objects could shelter deceptive spirits who may use these shells for harm. But that’s probably thinking too deeply into it, I just know they freak me the fuck out. I quite enjoy I, Robot but when they’re climbing up buildings or talking in unison, it does give me “the willies.” The middle picture from the above image is my screenshot of a game called Remnant Records. Films I recommend if you want to tease yourself with this one include House of Wax and Dead Silence, and I recently found out about a film called Tourist Trap but haven’t seen it at the time of writing.
Arachnophobia, fear of arachnids, or commonly used for a fear of spiders in particular, is quite a “popular” one. I think I’ve worked on it a lot, and I’m not bothered by most small spiders now. But I do draw the line at large thicc ones. Particularly, the Tegenaria Gigantea, which has now been renamed, but to me it’ll always be that. I got bitten by one once and I just, viscerally, hate them. When I spot one, all my skin goes hot. I hate the way the bottoms of their feet curl like an elf shoe. Its outdoor lookalike, the wolf spider, has also done wrong by me, when one ran up my arm when Will lifted some seed trays into my lap. I freaked out, obviously. I am also not thrilled by big-bummed tube spiders. I know you are usually not very far away from a spider, but if they just stayed hidden or in a wall, that would be liveable, every time I have an encounter I have to be hypervigilant for ages and I hate it. In terms of other arachnids, I am spooked by Solifugae and was worried about seeing one when I last went to Israel, but thankfully I didn’t. I don’t hate scorpions even though they are also arachnids. But I do hate Thelyphonida, a.k.a. whip scorpions.
There is literally a movie called Arachnophobia, but I still haven’t seen it.
I would just say that I generally have a fear of flying insects, but there doesn’t seem to be a name for this, and I actually don’t fear most bugs. So instead, I’ve put the names for bee phobia and wasp phobia on the above image. The wasp pictured is a Tarantula Hawk, a horrifying species I found out about a few years ago, who can be seen dragging off massive spiders.
I’m sure I’ve told the story 50 times about how I was stung as a child. I’ve been working on my fear of bees, I even saw one in the garden a while ago that I thought was cute! Wasps can very much still get fucked at the moment.
For this I’ve used an image of The Plague from Dead by Daylight, instead of, the actual thing. Fear of vomit and vomiting. My earliest memory of this is hearing my sister vomit when we were ill, and then struggling not to vomit myself. I’m a sympathetic vomiter, so when I’m sick I risk getting into a loop of it until I have absolutely nothing left. I’m not sure why I hate vomiting so much instead of just getting on with it when necessary, but I really do and it controls my life quite a lot. I have to avoid a lot of sights, sounds, smells, and textures, in case I will feel sick and therefore, be at risk of vomiting. It has also compounded my phobia of blood tests, as I will often vomit during them. I also have to mitigate the worst case scenario as much as possible, by keeping vomit bags in the car door, different purses, by my bedside, in the bathroom, and where I usually sit in the lounge.
Yep that’s right, here’s another “popular” one, Coulrophobia, fear of clowns. Maybe it stems from a similar place as my Automatonophobia, even though clowns are usually living humans, dressed up. I don’t remember when my fear started, and I remember that by the time I saw an episode of Buffy where Xander talked about a fear of clowns, I wholeheartedly agreed and must’ve already had whatever experience it was. Even in media I actually don’t like to look at clowns too much, it’s not one I can tease myself with like Submechanophobia. There’s a decent film with a segment of clown spoop in it, called Hell House LLC.
For the longest time, I didn’t know how to describe this one either. I used to just describe it as a fear of electricity pylons. And in my defence, that’s how a lot of it started, I used to feel extremely uneasy when we drove by them, especially going under the wires, and I used to have nightmares about them falling on my house, despite how impossible that was. One of the council houses I lived in during childhood, had a view of the BT microwave tower at Kanes Hill roundabout, I could see a red light on it through my curtains at night and I used to be so intimidated by the idea that it could see me. Big fans are another one for me, which intersects with injury phobia and submechanophobia. I was also pretty horrified when I found out how tiny people actually are in comparison to wind turbines! There were also some radar dishes in (I think) Turok 3 that used to do me a spook.
And, finally, here we are. Even though me and some friends became Twitch affiliates while playing a game called Phasmophobia, I am, in fact, a real-life phasmophobe. The dead are a simultaneous source of fascination and fear for me. In a strange way, I probably owe a lot of my life to the concept of ghosts. Why are they scary? Well, probably because they aren’t bound by the same rules as living humans and they could hurt you if they wanted to. I was always afraid of ghosts because of my parents’ beliefs. I can’t stop playing janky games about them though.