WTF Fun Fact 13180 – Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words. And someone clearly had a sense of humor when they created it to be one of the longest words in the English dictionary.

What is hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia?

Well, for starters, the tongue-twister isn’t officially recognized by the American Psychological Association’s DSM 5 (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is used to make diagnoses) as an actual phobia. It’s more of a curiosity and an excuse to show off your language skills.

One can also refer to the fear of long words as “sesquipedalophobia.”

But before you think it’s ridiculous, note that psychologists do categorize hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia as a social phobia.

According to the DSM-5, criteria for social phobias require a patient to have the following:

  • a fear or anxiety about social situations where a person may be examined, like meeting new people or having a conversation
  • the fear or anxiety is disproportionate to the social situation
  • the fear or anxiety is persistent, and the social situation is excessively avoided
  • the fear, anxiety, or avoidance causes clinical distress

What causes such a unique phobia?

According to Healthline (cited below), social phobias like this can be associated with a negative event that was scary or traumatic at the time, a family history of phobias or other mental health issues, a person’s environment (especially if they see someone else develop a similar phobia), and changes in brain function. It’s certainly not something to make light of or ignore.

However, people may not seek treatment for fear of stigma, even from doctors. They’re more likely to take jobs or lead lifestyles that don’t require them to use long words. And there’s no official “limit” of word length that qualifies someone for this phobia.

The good news is that there are treatments and coping mechanisms one can explore with a professional to help someone afflicted with hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, whether it’s helping them manage anxiety symptoms or overcome their fear altogether with training.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “What is hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia?” — Healthline

WTF Fun Fact 13148 – Pentheraphobia

Pentheraphobia means the fear of your mother-in-law. And while fear might not be the word most people would use, a phobia also refers to anxiety produced by the trigger and subsequent avoidance (to which more of us may be able to relate).

Is pentheraphobia real?

A phobia typically refers to an unfounded fear or dislike – and, let’s face it, some mothers-in-law are scary and threatening. (Of course, some are delightful!).

But the fear of one’s mother-in-law can be real for people who suffer from anxiety and who let their in-laws’ behavior or presence affect their lives in negative ways.

Pentheraphobia is not widespread (or widely recognized). While this specific phobia is not in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), general phobias are. And to qualify as a psychiatric disorder, a phobia must produce excessive and persistent fear, induce a state of panic around the trigger, and lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms in order to avoid contact.

According to Its Psychology (cited below): “It is a specific phobia, and it is important to clarify that it differs from a simple dislike or hatred because it can seriously affect the sufferer of the disorder.”

Fear of in-laws

If you’re not a fan of your in-laws or other parental figures, Its Psychology has a few other potential diagnoses to bring up with your doctor:

  • Socerafobia (fear of in-laws in general)
  • Vitricofobia (fear of the stepfather)
  • Novercaphobia (fear of the stepmother)

Suffering from phobias

While fear of one’s mother-in-law may seem amusing in some respects, the symptoms of phobias are no joke. They can include nausea, vomiting, tremors, irregular heartbeat, excessive sweating, and panic attacks. It goes far beyond dread.

Many phobias are believed to be rooted in past psychological trauma. Of course, you don’t have a mother-in-law until later in life, but it’s possible that you can be conditioned from a young age to fear non-blood relatives or pick up on other people’s fear or animosity towards their mothers-in-law.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Pentheraphobia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments” — Its Psychology

WTF Fun Fact 12950 – Anatidaephobia

Anatidaephobia is the fear of being watched by ducks. And despite this existing as a fun fact for decades, it may not actually be a real thing. If it is, it originated in an awfully strange place for a real phobia.

Who’s afraid of a duck?

Ducks are probably only watching you if you get too close to them or their nests. But we don’t want to downplay phobias, because they’re very real and produce real physical symptoms. So, could someone fear that a duck is watching them? Sure.

The question is whether this fear rises to the level of anatidaephobia. That’s less likely since the word was coined by Gary Larson in his comic The Far Side. The idea of this particular phobia is a hoax.

Phobias and anatidaephobia

Phobias spawn feelings of intense fear and worry about object or situations. While there’s no formal duck phobia, the idea of anatidaephobia comes from the Greek word “anatidae,” meaning “swan, ducks, or geese,” and “phobos,” meaning “fear.”

According to PsychCentral (cited below, and which does eventually get around to the point of mentioning it’s a hoax): “People who experience this phobia may not necessarily be worried that a duck might attack them. Instead, their fear centers around the idea that somewhere, a duck could be watching them — constantly.”

However, while “Anatidaephobia may seem like it could be a credible phobia, the fear of being constantly watched by a duck is actually a fictional phobia created for entertainment.”

In other words, you won’t find a fear of ducks in the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5), though you will find diagnostic criteria for “Specific Phobia: Animal type.”

That doesn’t mean a fear of birds, in general, is fake though. “Ornithophobia, or the fear of birds, is an animal type of specific phobia. Some people with this type of phobia may fear all birds or just a specific type of bird, such as a duck. Although anatidaephobia may not be real, the fear of ducks is a very real phobia.”

In the end, PsychCentral explains that: “Anatidaephobia can be traced back to Gary Larson, creator of the ‘The Far Side’ comic. Larson’s cartoon comic depicted a paranoid office worker with the caption, ‘Anatidaephobia: The fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you.’ The comic showed a duck looking out a window from another building behind the office. The point of Larson’s cartoon was to illustrate that any object can be a source of fear. Since the fictional phobia debuted in 1988, anatidaephobia has gained popularity. This has led to the internet questioning the phobia’s veracity. While anatidaephobia is indeed a hoax and not a real phobia, fears and phobias are no laughing matter. Phobias can have serious affects on a person’s daily life.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “Fear of Ducks Watching You: Is Anatidaephobia a Real Condition?” — PsychCentral

WTF Fun Fact 12798 – Top Phobias

What are you afraid of? A surprising number of people admit to having phobias in the U.S. In fact, a recent YouGov survey found that 83% said they had these genuine fears. And the top phobias were snakes and heights.

America’s top fears

Despite the pandemic, disease ranked fifth – after public speaking.

YouGov even broke the phobias down by gender, age, income, and political party! There wasn’t much difference between these categories other than women being more likely to fear snakes, spiders, and crowded spaces.

Men were more likely to say they had no fears. But those who had phobias named heights and public speaking as the things that freak them out most.

Fears vs phobias

Now, the YouGov poll doesn’t use the word “phobia” in the proper psychological way. Phobias can truly affect the way you live your life, and they’re more than just fears.

According to VeryWell Mind:

“The National Institute of Mental Health suggests that phobias affect approximately 10% of U.S. adults each year. These phobias typically emerge during childhood or adolescence and continue into adulthood. They also impact twice as many women as they do men. There are a number of explanations for why phobias develop, including evolutionary and behavioral theories. Whatever the cause, phobias are treatable conditions that can be minimized and even eliminated with cognitive and behavioral therapy techniques and medication.”

In addition, “phobias can lead to marked fear and symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and breathlessness. In some cases, these symptoms escalate into a full-blown panic attack.”

Phobias may not always be logical (most snakes and spiders don’t want to hurt you), but that doesn’t make the fear less real.

Interestingly, exposure therapy is one common treatment for phobias. During exposure therapy, you’re around the thing you fear the most in order to desensitize you to it and prove that it’s not as scary as you might think.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Phobias – 1000 U.S. Adult Citizens” — YouGov

WTF Fun Fact 12715 – Cherophobia

Anxiety is often irrational, but that doesn’t make it feel less real. However, it becomes a problem when we develop anxiety that interferes with our ability to live life to the fullest.

Take cherophobics for example. Many of us have met people who seem to just refuse to be happy. But those with cherophobia are genuinely concerned that if they do something to make themselves happy, that misery will follow – as if somehow the universe needs to balance out that way.

It’s common to wonder when the other shoe will drop when life is going a bit too well. But those with cherophobia get stressed out at even the thought of having fun.

There’s not a lot of research on the disorder yet, and it has not been added to the DSM to qualify as a mental illness.

But there is one interesting piece of research on cherophobia that gives 4 explanations as to why someone may want to avoid being happy or displaying happiness, and it may depend on culture and upbringing:

  1. A fear that happiness will bring on bad luck
  2. The belief that one doesn’t deserve to be happy while others suffer
  3. The belief that expressing happiness can cause envy in others who will want to prevent your happiness
  4. The idea that pursuing happiness is detrimental to your own soul or to the common good

Frankly, it makes a bit more sense when we see how it may play out in people.

Sadly, cherophobics may not only avoid doing things that make them happy, but they may also pass up opportunities to have meaningful and joyful relationships.

And on that note, we’re going to go call a friend and pour a glass of wine and be thankful for what we have! — WTF fun facts

Source: “Cherophobia Explained: Fear of Happiness & How to Overcome It” —

WTF Fun Fact 12614 – The Fear of Cooking

Plenty of people don’t like to cook. Or maybe you might enjoy it if it weren’t such a chore. After all, for most of us, cooking is something we have to do day in and day out, mostly for other people who may not even appreciate the effort (parents, we’re looking at you).

But there are a group of people who are genuinely afraid of cooking. So much so that it gives them severe anxiety (and we all know the kind of health problems stress and anxiety can cause). These people are known as mageirocophobics.

Mageirocophobia is the extreme fear of having to cook, and it’s typically classified as a social anxiety disorder because it can have a lot to do with a fear of judgment.

According to the Cleveland Clinic: “Mageirocophobia occurs when you’re fearful of cooking or the idea of cooking. You may experience intense anxiety or go out of your way to avoid cooking. For many people, this phobia stems from not wanting to make mistakes.”

Mageirocophobics may have other mental health issues, such as OCD, but not always. Sometimes, the fear results from extreme perfectionism and concern about the consequences of doing things wrong. (And to be fair, a lot can go wrong in the kitchen, from a lousy casserole to a missing finger or a kitchen fire.)

People who fear cooking may also suffer from PTSD after a bad kitchen or cooking incident. It can be a singular incident that caused them (or someone else) harm or even years of being criticized for their cooking.

The kitchen can be stressful for many people, even those who once found it relaxing. Sometimes it depends on your most recent experiences. For example, a chef who gets a bad burn in a kitchen fire might suddenly become mageirocophobic.

This particular phobia may not get in the way of everyday life (as long as sufferers can find a way to eat). In that case, it may not ever be treated. Treatment for the phobia is typically reserved for those who need to get over the fear because it keeps them from enjoying life or eating properly (or caring for those they have a responsibility to feed, like children).

There can even be more mild mageirocophobia. In this case, you won’t enjoy cooking, but severe anxiety arises when trying a new recipe, cooking for others, or needing to use a new kitchen tool.

Of course, more severe cases result in a person being unable to think much about food or developing a fear of watching other people cook.

It’s common to experience a little anxiety when trying new things, but a phobia is a whole different category of fear. Luckily, some treatments can help reduce the effects of mageirocophobia. – WTF fun facts

Source: “Mageirocophobia (Fear of Cooking)” – The Cleveland Clinic

WTF Fun Fact 12604 – Ergophobia

We know what you’re thinking:

Thats Me GIF by Your Happy Workplace - Find & Share on GIPHY

But ergophobia is more than a case of the so-called “Sunday scaries” – those are more about dreading work, and it’s not a clinical diagnosis.

Ergophobia is still not well understood but tends to be classified as an anxiety disorder – typically social anxiety or performance anxiety. It’s an irrational fear of work that causes noticeable signs of anxiety when a person thinks about working. It can even cause the kind of panic attacks that can lead to hospitalization. A sufferer may even know there’s nothing to fear, but their brain reacts anyway (hence the clinical diagnosis).

The condition includes an array of fears about work, including the ability to perform tasks or even look for a job. And the inability to do work without suffering mentally and physically can leave people in poverty or dependent on others to care for them. And as you might imagine, that can lead to even more anxiety about life that makes everything worse.

Psych Times lists the common symptoms of ergophobia as:

  • Intense anxiety when working
  • Anxiety when thinking of work
  • Unwillingness to hold a regular job
  • Inability to cope with strong emotions
  • Becoming dependent on others due to the inability to work
  • Experiencing panic attacks as a result of work or fear of work

The condition doesn’t always have to lead to hospitalization to be considered severe. As we know, stress can lead to all kinds of physiological effects, such as heart disease, that can lead to a shorter and less happy life.

The condition can be genetic (though someone may inherit a predisposition to an anxiety disorder that manifests in this unique way in them and no one else in their family) or because of a trauma or environmental pressure.

There’s no specific “cure,” but desensitization techniques are common treatments for phobias in general, and it’s possible someone can be eased into work. Anti-anxiety medications and therapy may help ergophobics maintain a job as well. – WTF fun facts

Source: “Ergophobia (Fear of Work)” — Psych Times