“I used to be scared of death until I found out it’s now called “end of life.” Phew, that was close!”

— Stewart Stafford

People are just plain weird, and I know that because I am a person and I know that sometimes I am weird. However, the wide array of weirdness I find very interesting. While people have many things in common, it’s the peculiarities that make us unique.

Fears and phobias can run quite a gamut. For years on any list, the biggest fear people have in common is public speaking. In fact, according to Karl Albrecht, Ph.D., there are five basic fears out of which all our other fears are manufactured: extinction, mutilation, loss of autonomy, separation, and ego death.

Of course, in laymen terms, these would equate to the fear of death; an invasion of our body’s boundaries; the fear of being entrapped, imprisoned, or restricted; the fear of abandonment; and the fear of humiliation or shame.

What I find more interesting than common phobias are the really outlying fears from which some people struggle with regularly and for which they spend a lifetime of suffering. Things which most of us don’t even think about can cause great anxiety for others. Here is a partial list of some bizarre ones:

Nomophobia is a modern phobia. It is characterized with anxiety that arises from being out of a phone’s range of service. For some, a sense of panic can arise from simply being electronically disconnected to the world, even if there is not an immediate need to communicate. I think we all know someone who is addicted to their cell phone or who is that person.

Spectrophobia is an uncommon fear of mirrors and of one’s own reflection. It is related to one’s own lack of self-esteem or in some cases from a traumatic event involving mirrors.

Linonophobia is the fear of string. Apparently, there is even an on online test one can take to determine their severity of this condition.

Some people have a fear of dancing, and even alcohol cannot fix it when someone suffers from chorophobia.

I know some of these you will think I am simply making this up, but some people have an extreme fear called arachibutyrophobia. This is a condition in which someone has an extreme fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of their mouth. If peanut butter does stick on the roof of their mouth, they experience severe shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and panic.

As strange and weird as some of these certainly appear to be, there is one phobia that I found listed as the least uncommon but identified phobia in the world. Runners-up include anthophoiba, which is the fear of flowers, and vestiphobia, the fear of clothing. Earning honorable mention, and ironically, the term hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is the fear of long words.

However, as far as I am concerned, my very favorite of phobias which have been identified and I feel certain is among the least-suffered phobias in the world is anatidaephobia. This is the fear of being watched by a duck.

Although from my own personal experiences with so many over the years, I think I found an explanation for what has perplexed me during many interactions with some people. I think one of the most common fears from which many people suffer, and in fact I might be alarmed that it is a modern-day epidemic of sorts, is something called phronemophobia. This is the fear of thinking!

— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at lindon.dodd@hotmail.com.