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rOs's avatar

Have you had an experience that caused a phobia?

Asked by rOs (3524points) June 23rd, 2011

When I was a kid, we lived an old Victorian funeral home. The cement basement was large, dank, and dark, not to mention there was a room with coffin-sized shelves. There was one light bulb hanging over the washer and dryer in one corner of the room; the remaining area was usually navigated using a flood light which caused really long creepy shadows. The basement lights could also only be turned on or off from the top of the stairs, so my brother and step-dad liked to scare me by plunging me into darkness. Funny now, but not funny to a kid.

The phobia isn’t darkness though, its spiders. My step-dad made me vacuum the floor and ceiling of the basement, and told me to get all of the cob-webs. I’ve never had so many spiders land on me in my life. It didn’t help that the lights kept getting turned off, adding to my stress. This incident resulted in a pretty bad arachnophobia that lasted until late in my teenage years.

Do you have a phobia? Is it inherent or was it cause by a traumatic event?

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37 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I have always had arachnophobia. It did not stem from any incident that I recall.

Your father (and, by extension, brother) sound very mean. I wish for them that someone causes them an equal fear someday.

ucme's avatar

I was in a lift/elevator when I was a kid & this wasp flew in & pestered me for four floors.
From that day on I have a phobia of wasps, elevator dancing & windmills :¬(

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tedd's avatar

I watched Arachnophobia as a child, and thanks to the scene where the guy almost gets bit by a spider in the toilet while he was taking a crap… I pretty much refused to sit on a toilet until I reached High School or so.

zenvelo's avatar

When I was in second grade, on rainy days, we had to eat lunch indoors. They used to have different nuns read to us or tell us stories. One nun told us all the time about really poor kids living in New York tenements, and how the rats would nibble on their fingers every night.

I have been freaked out about rats ever since.

Cruiser's avatar

When I was 10, I had a severe appendicitis attack right after eating waffles. I was sooooo sick for 2 days and since then I am deathly afraid of waffles. I am frightened by the mere mention of waffles and even typing that word makes me nauseous!

answerjill's avatar

After a boy in my high school class died in a car accident, I became scared to drive. I did not drive for years after that. If I could go back in time, I would have made myself get in the car and start driving right away. Avoidance is not a good thing and made things worse when I had to reacquaint myself with driving years later.

Blondesjon's avatar

Once, while alone and with no mode of transportation, I found myself without any alcohol in the house. I was miles away from anyplace I could buy liquor and the house was free of any other, uh, stimulants.

Since that day I suffer from a severe case of fuckimoutofbeeraphobia.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Blondesjon I knew you were lying on this thread!

Yeah. I had a lot of various traumatic experiences that ended up with me having various phobias. I got a lot of treatment for it, including EMDR (which is awesome for getting over traumatic incidents), and am much better now.

Blondesjon's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs . . . or am i lying on this thread? shhh . . . listen. do you hear that explosion off in the distance? that’s me blowing your mind.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

No.I really don’t.
I find it best to face my fears,then go have a coffee. :)

erichw1504's avatar

When I was younger, I was eating a cheese stick that my mom had cooked in the oven. I took a bite and there was an endless stretch of cheese pulling from the other end. I kept pulling and pulling, putting more of the stringy goodness into my mouth. Until, some of it went down my throat and I didn’t know whether to pull it out or keep going with more cheese. Having half of it down my throat and the other half out of it, made me almost throw up. I finally got to rip off the string of cheese and ate it.

I didn’t eat cheese sticks again for many years. You could say I had cheese stick phobia.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Two phobias here: balloons and open-backed stairs. The balloons one is limited to the rubbery ones and not Mylar. I have no clue how it came about, only that it started when I was 17. If I get too close to them, I break out in a sweat and hyperventilate. I have had to leave restaurants or move to another table where they have helium tanks that fill the balloons just from the sound. It seems ridiculous as they are pretty and represent a celebration, but there you have it. Any suggestions on how to overcome it are welcome via PM.

The open-backed stairs phobia probably started with being very young while visiting Dad’s company and having to walk up a two-story flight in order to get to his office. I could have easily fit through the gaps, and it was a long way down to the foyer floor. For years, there have been reoccurring nightmares of open-backed stairs. The goal of getting to the top of the Eiffel Tower helped overcome it. In January, I climbed to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, which included the darned open-back stairs. It is still a freakish feeling, but looking towards the goal , grasping the handrails, and moving slowly has helped.

erichw1504's avatar

I was making paper airplanes one day when I was young. While cutting some intricate designs into them with a pair of scissors, I up and sliced my finger pretty deep. Almost required stiches.

To this day I have a mild phobia of knives and getting cut.

Mariah's avatar

I have a lot of latent health phobia from my health problems. When small symptoms really do turn out to indicate big problems, a person tends to get paranoid.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Yeah. I have PTSD that contributes to my fear of dying… which manifests as agoraphobia most of the time.

Coloma's avatar

I wrecked my boyfriends car in High School and was phobic about driving for quite awhile.
Otherwise no. I’m pretty fearless, no bug, snake, mouse, rat, animal issues, no fear of heights, bridges, high rise buildings, flying, spiders, etc. I am slightly claustrophobic when I fly, I like to have the little air jets pointed at my face for the fresh air. Last year I flew to Asia and after 14 hours I was starting to get a little stressed about getting off that damn plane, haha. I did have a few thoguhts about flying over the ocean for hours and hours and hours. :-/

Thank God for Xanax. :-D

Stinley's avatar

I left an apple in my school bag over the summer holidays and pulled it out in late August, only to have it crumble in my fingers. Since then I’ve had a fear of unexpected mould, fear of putting my hand into places I can’t see, and a slight fear of feeling furry things. I also get a bit freaked by fast growing things like plants that grow ariel roots or long tendrils. I can cope with mould if I know it might be there and I can prepare myself. LIke if I found a lunch box that has been left a day or two, I could hold it away from me and take it to the bin and empty it. Couldn’t pick through it or anything. And once the mould situation has started to freak me out, I can’t then cope or even go back to it later. I have to get someone else to deal with it. A lot of my housekeeping is actually mould prevention. I worry a lot about mould growing

I had a friend who was scared of unexpected pennies. Not ones in her purse but ones lying on the floor or a shelf. When someone is feeling like freaked out by their phobia, I imagine the situation with mould. Then I understand. A little mouldy penny on a shelf, horrible…

rOs's avatar

@Stinley That reminds me: I grabbed a yogurt out of the fridge one morning as a lad. I opened it slightly and squeezed some into my mouth so I wouldn’t have to grab a spoon. It was furry. I doubt I have to explain how that scarred me.

Stinley's avatar

@rOs eeek! I feel sick

Jude's avatar

Fear of driving. I didn’t get my license ‘til I was 21.

blueberry_kid's avatar

Fear of bugs. I still can’t go 2 seconds without flinging my arms around to shoo away a bug.

Coloma's avatar


You need exposure therapy, come on over to my crazy wildlife zone. Last night I was trying to sleep with leaf hoppers and crane flies and june bugs bouncing off the walls. It’s a major summer bug zone over here. In the fall I am in the middle of a Tarantula migration path too. ;-)

JessK's avatar

Heights, cockroaches, and contact with pom-poms. I’ve been working on my fear of heights (I went on a 30 foot high ropes course just last week) but cockroaches are the one thing I will never be able to stand. As for pom-poms? I can’t touch them. They just make me shiver.

JessK's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Open backed stairs are TERRIFYING!

DominicX's avatar

Pretty much, yeah. I had always been a little afraid of spiders, but the fear was magnified when I saw the biggest spider I had ever seen in my life crawling on the wall of our vacation home in Tahoe (where many horrible spiders dwell). I was never the same after that…

Coloma's avatar


LOL Yep, these mountain spiders gotta be tough! haha

sliceswiththings's avatar

I crashed an ATV and badly broke my wrist. After that, I’ve been nervous about being a passenger in any moving vehicle. Before my accident, the assumption was that I would not crash, but afterwards, anything was possible. I still prefer to be the one operating the vehicle.

Coloma's avatar

Oh wait, I just thought of something! The extremely nasty chinese sausage breakfast thing that Air China served on the plane. I ate my mango, and drank my coffee, but the yellow sausage remained untouched. Oh, and the pan of fried Duck heads in a night market..Mmmm lolol

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Yes. When I was young and living in a tiny village in Russia, I had severe gastrointestinal problems. Back in those days, they didn’t believe in anesthesia for the procedure I was about to endure at 5 years old. As 6 nurses held me down, I was forced to swallow a large tube with a camera on the end. I remember it being one of the worst experiences, I was forced down crying and I spit out so much saliva, they had to change sheets every 15 minutes. Since that time, I can’t swallow pills, get panic attacks when eating, etc.

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8Convulsions's avatar

When I was little, my bedroom became infested with ants. They came in through the window, which was right next to my bed. So I would wake up to the smell of crushed ants and them biting me. It went on for weeks! We cleaned the room, sprayed poison outside, tried everything. Yet, every night I would wake up, crying, because they would find a new way in and would be crawling on me. I slept on the couch a lot during that time. I don’t hate ants anymore, but to this day, I can still recognize their SMELL. The worst thing ever.

Nimis's avatar

Crunch bars and rice crispies of any sort. Had a Crunch bar when I was little. Bit a corner of it. Then broke it apart to split with my sister. Little maggots were wriggling and falling out of the rice crispies.
Yergh. Got the heebie jeebs just thinking about it again.

Didn’t have another Crunch bar until well into college.

laineybug's avatar

One time when I was younger I was bitten by a freaking huge guard dog. We were feeding him Reese’s Puffs, I guess he was still hungry. Ever since then I’ve been afraid of dogs until I’m absolutely certain they won’t bite me. I’m also afraid of going up open-backed stairs, and going down stairs without railings.

snowberry's avatar

I’m not sure, but I might have a phobia about going through airport security again. Yeech.

smilingheart1's avatar

@rOs, I like you even better now that you have shared on this. I have a lot of compassion for the kid that was you going through this.

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