Saturday, 19 September 2009

Character Traits: Unusual Phobias

Recently, I came across this article...source here

Why is this interesting? Why should writers be on the lookout for articles like this? If you want to make your characters interesting...why not have them suffer from a phobia.

The UK's most unusual phobias

A pair of knees (Image © PA)

Do you suffer from a fear of kneecaps? Have an aversion to the sight of some frozen peas? Perhaps you shudder at the mere glimpse of a copy of the Yellow Pages.
If so, you may be afflicted by one of the UK's most unusual phobias. Genuphobia, or the fear of kneecaps, has recently been acknowledged as a genuine medical condition. One sufferer, Sarah Lister, from Gosport in Hampshire, has spoken of how the phobia affects her life.
She told the Daily Telegraph: "In the summer it is worse because I don't feel like I can go to the beach or go to the pub. I worry that if I saw someone in a bathing costume or a short skirt I would just freak out. I quiver in fear if anybody tries to touch my knees, or accidentally bumps into them.
"I am fine with my fiancé, my immediate family and a select group of friends, but strangers' knees still hold a lot of fear for me. Even the thought of other people's knees makes me feel very uneasy."
Miss Lister believes her phobia began when she was 11 years old when she witnessed her father dislocate his knee in a fall. 
Genuphobia is just one of a number of unusual aversions people have testified to suffering.

If you have an aversion to a glimpse of a daffodil, a copy of the Yellow Pages, a baby chicken or a banana, you may suffer from a fear of the colour yellow.

Earleen Taylor, of Sutton in Surrey, told the makers of an ITV documentary on phobia in 2008 she was so frightened of frogs that she has to run from her car to her front door in case one was lurking in the garden. "I have a sixth sense for frogs," she said. "When it has been raining, I'm on red alert. I start to hyperventilate, and am gripped by fear."

This is a phobia of mirrors, or a fear of seeing your own reflection.

Kim Crosby, from Cambridge, told ITV of her aversion to seeing barns. "It's very hampering in the summertime because I would like to drive around with the roof of my car down, but then there is nothing to protect me."

Louise Arnold, from Gloucester, told ITV she had a fear of peas that prevented her walking down the frozen food aisle of a supermarket. "They tend to just look at me - ganging up on me," she explained. "All the hairs on the back of my neck go up. I have to know where they are in the supermarket before I go in. It's just controlling my life now. I would like to be a dinner lady at my daughter's school, but I'm not even able to be in the same room as someone eating them."

If you have an irresistible urge to strip off in public, you are either a rampant exhibitionist or are a sufferer of vestiphobia: a fear of clothing.

This is something that has inspired everything from books and films to superstitions and nursery rhymes: a fear of the dark.

This is a fear of clowns. The term was coined fairly recently, and is based on the Greek word koulon ('limb'). The Greek word kolobathristes means "one who goes on stilts".

Cotton wool
Michelle Andrews, from Cherry Willingham in Lincolnshire, told the BBC in 2002 that she had been afraid of cotton wool since she was just six years old. "Wanting to wrap someone up in cotton wool is supposed to be a way of showing that you care," she said. "In my case, it would be the ultimate form of torture."

Rather appropriately, this is the fear of long words. The condition, sometimes shortened to sesquippedaliophobia, can leave sufferers with shortness of breath, rapid breathing, an irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and overall feelings of dread.

Not one for the squeamish: a fear of being tickled by feathers.