Having some fear is a normal human emotion. But if what you fear is really not very dangerous, and you fear it so much that it causes emotional and physical distress, you could have an anxiety disorder called a phobia.
Phobias affect people of all ages and can include the fear of people, places, activities, and things. Symptoms of phobias include panic, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing,
and an overwhelming desire to get away. And while people may realize that their phobias are completely irrational, the condition persists.
Personally I have an aversion to bananas – had it as long as I can remember. The first time my mother chopped up a banana on a bowl of cereal I began screaming wildly – I think they had to give me half of a tranquilizer to calm me down. (I suspect I began associating medicine with bananas from that moment on.)
Even though bananas are the third most popular fruit in the world, there truly are some who are afraid of them. Fear of bananas is called bananaphobia and it is more common than you might think. Just search Google for "fear of bananas" and you’ll see what I mean.
We bananaphobics are repulsed by the sight of bananas, cannot stand the texture or smell of bananas, and cannot be in the same room with bananas. I’m especially turned off by those stringy things that run up and down the fruit.
Bananas literally drive me bananas. I’m wondering if there are other unusual phobias out there. My first husband was afraid of cream cheese – the sight of a block of cream cheese was like running a finger nail down a blackboard. I love cream cheese and he loved bananas – divorce was inevitable.
A more common phobia is fear of closed-in spaces, or claustrophobia. Like other specific phobias, claustrophobia is more common in women. Specific phobias are estimated to affect about 19 million Americans. Claustrophobia may develop after a traumatic childhood event, such as being trapped in a closet.
I have this phobia as well, and getting on a crowded elevator is extremely challenging. If someone should be eating a banana in the elevator I will drop dead on the spot!
The excessive fear of germs is a common anxiety disorder in America. The medical term for this phobia is mysophobia.
Symptoms include obsessive washing and fear of public spaces. In the television show Monk, actor Tony Shaloub played a detective with OCD and numerous phobias, including mysophobia.
Thank goodness, I don’t have this phobia. Germs don’t bother me at all. Go figure.