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Dutchess_III's avatar

Do you have any fears, even a phobia, that you can trace back to a traumatic childhood event?

Asked by Dutchess_III (46741points) July 26th, 2018

I have an irrational (I guess) fear of trains. Train tracks scare the pee out of me. I don’t know why, and I don’t remember anything in my childhood that may have triggered this, but I have a feeling there is something.

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16 Answers

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

I lopped off a fingertip at age 1 in a bad fall. I suspect it might be the reason that medical settings, or even reading gruesome medical accounts can make me pass out.

It doesn’t happen much anymore, but it used to be almost a sure thing if I visited a hospital or had blood drawn.

Though I wouldn’t call it a phobia. I walk into those situations anticipating the best.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Well, there is my fear of electricity.
I had house current running through my mouth until my mom discovered me, and yanked the extension cord away.
I was left with an awful headache, and a morbid fear of electricity.

About your fear, it dredged up another old memory for me. It is barely there, fuzzy, and fractured. I was in this super tiny town where my dad was a child. There is no gas station, shops, businesses of any kind. It is a few homes, a couple of farms, and a name. I saw a very old building there which was the one room school my dad went for elementary school. There was a spot in the middle of the floor where someone removed the potbelly stove. There was no sign of the outhouse.
My dad showed me where train tracks went through, long unused even then. We followed the tracks a bit, and came to a drop. I have no memory of how far down the bottom was, three feet, or twenty. It was scary for a little toy China doll sized girl. We went across, me hopping from one rotten old wooden tie, to the next.
It is still scary for me, even knowing that if I went back there, it probably would turn out to be three feet deep, and six feet across.
Maybe you have something like that, which seemed extreme at the time, and left you with fear of something minor that you can’t even remember.

As per another thread, I gotta go.

Yellowdog's avatar

Echoes in dark places.

I was deathly afraid of reverberations, such as restrooms that echoed, as a small child.

Once, in my late teens, I was in an historic movie theatre with a school Christmas musical. Because the restrooms downstairs had long lines I went to a restroom in one of the hallways behind one of the upper mezzanines. The restroom was pitch dark and echoed like crazy—there was no way I could step much past the threshold.

Pitch dark hallways and dark elevator rides (I once had to leave a dark elevator to enter the scary blackness of an upper pitch dark hallway) have a similar effect on me, as does being alone in a large building such as a church with multiple rooms and hallways, if there is any kind of an echo, especially one coming from a far away place in the building.

Adagio's avatar

I have a fear of wind, not just a stiff breeze but strong winds. I think it might stem from a time when I was perhaps 8, perhaps a little younger, perhaps a little older, but our family was holidaying at a beach in a friend’s bach (NZ holiday home). During that time a very strong and damaging cyclone passed over that part of the country and although I do not actually remember it, my father tells me that my mother was almost hysterical with fear. I must have witnessed that and assume, rightly or wrongly, that my fear of wind stems from that time.

LadyMarissa's avatar

I have an irrational fear of spiders & snakes. I can’t pinpoint where this comes from & I know it’s silly; but I just can’t control it!!! When I was about 13, my family went camping. I had to sleep on a air mattress on the floor of the tent. I woke up screaming around 3:00 am because I had a nightmare that I had over 100 snakes crawling all over me. (Last time my Mom made me sleep on the tent floor.) To this day, I don’t understand WHY I had the nightmare. I’m beginning to think that I had a terrible experience with snakes in one of my prior lives!!!

Kardamom's avatar

Fear of heights (and flying and everything that comes with flying and falling) came at age 7 with 3 specific traumatic events. One is fear of dropping (specifically of elevators). I went to an event in the old part of downtown. The elevator still had one of those hand cranked devices with an elevator operator. He cranked, it didn’t move. He yanked and the elevator dropped several floors. I didn’t get onto an elevator for about 10 years after that. I do currently use elevators, but in buildings over about 10 floors, I get very nervous and apprehensive. I had to go to court to give a deposition recently, on the 17th floor of a building (I was not told this before I got there) and it was very nerve wracking.

The same year, my family took a trip to San Francisco. I loved every moment of it, save one. We went to Coit Tower, and when I got about half way up the stairs, I had my very first panic attack (which was described at the time, as me being cranky and naughty). I had all of the classic symptoms of a panic attack, in that I could not move to go up or down the stairs, I was paralyzed with fear. And I started crying. I sat down and did not budge for about a half hour, when I finally was able to go down, but not up.

The same year, my brother and I took a short flight (without our parents) to visit our grandparents. The plane dropped several thousand feet. I did not fly again until I was in my early 20’s. I only flew 3 times after that, under great duress, the last time was in 1990, and I have not flown since, and I never will again. On my last flight, we flew through a rain and thunder storm with lots of turbulence. I will never fly again.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Wow! Scary stuff.

Kardamom's avatar

I remembered something else. Around the same time that all of this happened with the planes and the elevators dropping, although it was probably about a year earlier when I was 6, two other awful things happened. A house on our block caught on fire and burned down, and a car a few doors down from us caught on fire and burned up, 2 completely separate events. Both of the the remnants of those fires were left there for months or at least a year, and I had to walk past the burned out remains. Every time I heard a fire truck, or even a police car siren, I would get this horrible terrified feeling, and the damned panic attacks. That went on until I was about 13 or 14. I hadn’t even thought about this situation in years. Thankfully, I was able to move past this particular phobia, although the other one with the fear of heights and falling has never left me, and has probably grown worse over the years.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Sure. When I was little something tore up my foot in the ocean and I have never wanted to be in the ocean since. I love the beach but don’t swim in the ocean; I go to the pool to swim and cool off. When my children were young I would get in the water with them and jump and say how much fun it was. I didn’t want them to be afraid of it. It worked; they love swimming in the Gulf. My insides would be churning and I would be fighting back vomit sometimes….I was so scared. Anyway, life goes on and we do what we have to do.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I have a pretty bad fear of the water. I’ve even had a panic attack in a pool…

I almost drowned a couple times, as a child. My parents loved/love the water. So we were around it plenty.

As an adult, I have worked hard to overcome the fear. I have taken hundreds of solo kayak/canoe trips through swamps, rivers, and oceans. Sometimes, I have gotten into bad trouble with storms, or flipping over in bad places. I have been much closer to alligators, than the vast majority of people. I’ve been in the water now, with just about every scary creature in my hemisphere.

I can now swim alone in the Edisto river. It’s SO pretty, but it’s a cold, blackwater swampy place.

I try to enjoy the salt water, but there are lots of animals that bump into me underwater. That’ll usually keep me out of the water for a few months.

I have been able to do lots of snorkeling all around the world (mostly in clear water.)

I own a canoe now. I go fishing in my local saltwater rivers frequently. I seem to need about half a pint of whiskey first, and then I can relax. I always enjoy the last part of my trips the most. The dolphins scare the crap out of me sometimes still. They tend to show up more around sunset. So. I’ll be just sitting there watching my lines, and then a 8 foot or so grey thing will breach right next to me. Once I get used to them, they are actually very relaxing. They make me feel safer, as I slowly paddle back with the Sun chasing the horizon. I think they like me. Or are at least interested by me. They are truly magical. I would never know them without battling my greatest fear….

Dutchess_III's avatar

So, are you still afraid of the water and just fight it, or are you over it @MrGrimm888?

When I was 5 I almost drown in a hotel swimming pool. I remember it clearly. I was underwater, spinning around and around, no idea which was was up and what to do if I DID figure out which way was was up. My Dad pulled me out and said, “That’s it. You’re learning how to swim!” And 15 minutes later I knew how to swim.
For that reason I teach my kids to swim at the earliest possible moment in their lives. I think teaching kids to swim is as important as teaching them to cross a street safely. It blows my mind to come across 10 year olds who don’t know how to swim. My kids were swimming by 3.

@MollyMcGuire I am so impressed that you encouraged your kids to go in the ocean (or gulf or whatever.) Too many people pass their fears on to their kids.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

As a child, an older sister put me in the clothes chute, shut the door, and wouldn’t let me out when I started to panic. I’ve been a bit claustrophobic since then.

Also as a child, Dad would sometimes take me to work with him on a Saturday. Getting to his office meant walking up a wide flight of open-back stairs from the atrium lobby to the upper level. I was deathly afraid of slipping between the stairs and falling to the marble tiled floor below. 50 years later and there is still anxiety walking up open-backed stairs. On occasion, there is a nightmare about it.

The worst fear or phobia is of balloons; the latex, not the Mylar ones. I have no idea why. This one makes me sweat and hyperventilate.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Dutch. I am still afraid. I suppose it will never completely go away. I force myself to cope with it. Like I said, I am pretty comfy swimming in the Edisto. It’s intimidating, because it’s a swamp. I think that was a big step for me.
In my canoe, I’m only a matter of inches from the water. I’ve been fishing with alligators, and snakes everywhere. Most animals seem to get used to me once I settle in and start fishing. I like to see how quiet I can be. Gently pushing my paddle through the water, and slipping the blade in and out without splashing. I really see lots of wildlife that way. I love wildlife, so I have to fight my fear to enjoy it…

Yellowdog's avatar

I am afraid of those eight foot octopus-shaped alligator things that hang from the ceiling at night. I’m always afraid they’ll strangle me with those python-like legs covered with those needle-sharp-toothed sucker things.

Or those spidery things from Aliens2. The ones I usually encounter are only half that size but that’s big enough, and they are better at hiding.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Those are cobwebs @Yellowdog! Time to vacuum!

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