It just occurred to me that there are an absurd number of common phobias, such as claustrophobia or acrophobia, for which I have the polar opposite — an unusual attraction to the commonly-feared thing or situation. (Since I am no stranger to anxiety, so this is rather odd.) Claustrophobics fear enclosed spaces, while those with acrophobia fear heights. If someone told me that a sensory deprivation tank was available for my use, atop the nearest mountain, I’d drive straight there, climb the mountain, get in the tank, and seal myself in for hours, for two reasons: I love being in enclosed spaces, and also absolutely love heights. Combining the two would be awesome!
There is a proper word-ending for the opposite of a phobia, of course: “-philia.” Unfortunately, though, use of words which end with -philia is problematic, due to the fact that the most often-used words with this ending refer to criminal acts. There’s nothing wrong with the words “claustrophilia,” nor “acrophilia,” to a linguistic purist. To a pragmatist, though — which I am — the undesirable effect of reminding the reader of such horrors as pedophilia must be taken into account. For this reason, I find it preferable to state that I have the opposite of both claustrophobia, and acrophobia.
In alphabetical order, then, here are some common phobias for which I have the polar opposite:
- Acrophobia, fear of heights — See first paragraph, above.
- Aerophobia, fear of flying — Just being a passenger on an airplane is thrilling, especially at take-off. Once, at about age twelve, I actually got to take the controls of a small plane for a little while, and that will remain one of the peak experiences of my life.
- Ailurophobia, fear of cats — We have cats, and I’ve had cats all my life. I admire their “cattitudes,” for one thing; they are somewhat like my own.
- Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders — I try my best to protect every spider I see, wear a spider necklace, have a spider tattoo, and have spider-decorations in my classroom year-round, just because I like spiders that much.
- Atychiphobia, fear of failure — If I had this, I would never begin work on any challenging math problem, and . . . well, what would be the point of existing like that?
- Autophobia, fear of being alone — The fact that I traveled over 11,000 km, alone, in my late teens, proves I don’t have this problem.
- Barophobia, fear of gravity — A bad idea for anyone with mass! If I had it, I wouldn’t be writing this, for I’d be too busy freaking out. All. The. Time.
- Bibliophobia, fear of books — Yeah, well, I can’t even narrow down my favorite-author list to fewer than four, as seen here.
- Claustrophobia, fear of enclosed spaces — See first paragraph, above.
- Cyberphobia, fear of computers — Wow, that would make it difficult to maintain a blog!
- Glossophobia, fear of speaking in public — As a teacher, I actually get paid to run my mouth, so this one is . . . out!
- Gynophobia, fear of women — They may scare a lot of lawmakers, judging from the political “war against women” in America, but I’ve always preferred the company of women to that of men (sorry, guys).
- Islamophobia, fear/hatred of Muslims and Islam — I’ve blogged about this; you can find those posts here.
- Melanophobia, fear of the color black — My favorite color!
- Negrophobia, fear of Black people — It’s a common affliction where I live, this being the American South, but I couldn’t do my job if I had this problem, for a majority of my students are Black. I can’t think of any reason why a person’s albedo, high or low, should be a problem for me. I’m not allergic to melanin, after all, and have viewed racism as evil since I first became aware of it, as a child.
- Nyctophobia, fear of darkness and night — If I could get away with it, I would be completely nocturnal.
- Ombrophobia, fear of rain — I don’t even own an umbrella.
- Ophidiophobia, fear of snakes — Have you ever had a twenty-minute stand-off with a copperhead? I have. I was probably fifteen or so at the time. My reasoning: running toward or away from the snake might be dangerous, and walking away wasn’t an option, since I was standing on a rock in the middle of a river, with the snake on the next rock — so I held my ground, and simply stayed on “my” rock. The snake did the same on his rock, for about twenty minutes, and then it jumped into a river and swam away, ending the standoff. This wouldn’t have been possible with ophidiophobia.
- Triskaidekaphobia, fear of the number thirteen — Why would anyone fear a number, especially one of the smaller primes? Wouldn’t that mean not being able to count more than a dozen things at once? There’s plenty of evidence on this blog that numbers don’t scare me.
The next time anxiety is a problem for me, I’ll try to remember to think about this list of anxiety-problems I don’t have, but which do affect many other people. I could certainly have it worse when it comes to anxiety, and it harms nothing to keep that in mind. In fact, it might even help.