Why can't we agree on the names for phobias?
Automysophobia, Coprophobia, Misophobia...
Also in this week's column:
Why can't we agree on the names for phobias?
Asked by Anka Saarinen of Helsinki, Finland
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association is the main diagnostic reference book for mental health professionals in the US and in much of the rest of the world.
According to the DSM-IV, a phobia is a persistent and irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation (the phobic stimulus) that results in a compelling desire to avoid it. This often leads either to avoidance of the phobic stimulus or to enduring it with dread.
A study by the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland found that between 8.7 and 18.1 per cent of Americans suffer from at least one phobia. Yet for reasons unknown, the mental health profession cannot agree on the term to be used for many of the most common phobias. There are 11 names for the persistent and irrational fear of being dirty - Automysophobia, Coprophobia, Misophobia, Molysmophobia, Molysomophobia, Mysophobia, Rupophobia, Rypophobia, Scatophobia, Spermophobia, and Verminophobia.
There are eight names for the persistent and irrational fear of water - Aquaphobia, Caninophobia, Cynophobia, Hydrophobia, Hydrophobophobia, Kynophobia, Lyssophobia, and Nautophobia. There are seven names for the persistent and irrational fear of anything new - Cainophobia, Cainotophobia, Centophobia, Kainolophobia, Kainophobia, Kainotophobia, and Neophobi; being alone - Autophobia, Eremiophobia, Eremophobia, Ermitophibia, Isolophobia, and Monophobia; Odours - Autodysosmophobia, Automysophobia, Bromidrophobia, Bromidrosiphobia, Olfactophobia, Osmophobia, and Osphresiophobia; and pain -Agliophobia, Algophobia, Ergasiophobia, Ergophobia, Odynephobia, Odynophobia, and Ponophobia.
There are six names for the persistent and irrational fear of being touched - Aphenphosmphobia, Aphephobia, Chiraptophobia, Haphephobia, Haptephobia, and Haptophobia; cats - Aclurophobia, Ailurophobia, Elurophobia, Felinophobia, Galeophobia, and Gatophobia; cold - Cheimaphobia, Cheimatophobia, Cryophobia, Frigophobia, Pagophobia, and Psychrophobia; Heights - Acrophobia, Altophobia, Bathophobia, Batophobia, Hypsiphobia, and Hypsophobia; night - Achluophobia, Lygophobia, Myctophobia, Noctiphobia, Nyctophobia, and Scotophobia; red (colour or word) - Ereuthophobia, Ereuthrophobia, Erythrophobia, Erthyrophobia, Erytophobia, and Rhodophobia); thunder - Astraphobia, Astrapophobia, Brontophobia, Ceraunophobia, Keraunophobia, and Tonitrophobia; and walking - Ambulophobia, Basiphobia, Basophobia, Basostasophobia, Stasibasiphobia, and Stasiphobia.
Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to email@example.com
Latin / Greek
Most of the names can be thrown out as nasty bilingual cut/shuts, anything that starts with a latin-derived word and ends with the greek "phobia" suffix, ought to be replaced entirely with the greek equivalent, if one can be found. (Aquaphobia,Felinophobia,
Several others appear to mean something entirely different from others that you've called them synonymous to. E.g. verminophobia presumably has to do with vermin, rather than dirtyness per se. Bathophobia, meanwhile, I think ought to be fear of *depth* rather than height?
When there are multiple forms of essentially the same word (Eremiophobia, Eremophobia for example) presumably somebody who knows greek better than I would be able to give a reasonable opinion on which form would make more sense.
Perhaps the lists could be shortened somewhat by applying these filters.
I'm also entirely unimpressed by one that I see bandied around all over the place "hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia" which is clearly the entirely reasonable "sesquipedalophobia" with "horse monster" prepended for no reason other to make it more "ammusing"
ho ho ho indeed.
Cheers & God bless
Sam "SammyTheSnake" Penny
Hmmm... wouldn't 'Hydrophobophobia' be 'fear of being afraid of water'? Or 'fear of Hydrophobes'?
Where is the answer?
While it is interesting to realize how many names common phobias have your answer is totally inane. Instead of rambling on definitions and names this short line would have sufficed:
"Yet for reasons unknown, the mental health profession cannot agree on the term to be used for many of the most common phobias."