Writing Through A Phobia

by Emma Shortt

The word phobia comes from the Greek word phobos, meaning morbid fear, and those burdened with a phobia go to great lengths to avoid the object of their terror. They know it’s a bit weird, they know it’s irrational, but they just can’t help themselves…

There are some truly extraordinary phobias out there, including mine, and I’ve always been fascinated by how we end up with them. This fascination has increased recently as my phobia features pretty heavily in my new novel. This was a purposeful move on my part as an attempt to rid myself of my bat shit crazy fear. I’ll say upfront that it is has not worked, not at all, and there is a reason for this.

I can’t help being freaked out by my mental nemesis…it’s chemical.

You see there’s this cool little part of our brain called the amygdala. It processes events associated with fear and anxiety, and it learns to respond to conditioning. So, put simply, it learns to associate something, say a spider, with a negative (oh shit, oh shit, run) response. The amygdala, when exposed to the negative conditioning, also releases hormones that put us in flight-or-fight mode, and, of course, with phobias most of us tend to go for a quick trot over a stand fast…we simply can’t help it. We’re scared because our brain conditions us to be so, it’s totally chemical. This might be because of environmental factors, childhood trauma, or even evolutionary factors, either way it is there and telling someone they’re a wimp will do nothing to help. We know we’re wimps, we know we’re it doesn’t really make sense, makes no difference.

It’s chemical, people.

But what about when the phobia really is truly weird, not clowns, or spiders, or snakes, but something spectacularly odd, or something that doesn’t even exist? Well I have scoured the internet to bring you my top ten list of the strangest (or coolest) phobias out there, and I’ve added mine, because clearly it is the most terrifying of all…see if you can work out which it is…I think the giveaway at the end of this post will provide a clue.

  1. Arachibutyrophobia: This is a fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth. Question is, crunchy or smooth?
  2. Anatidaephobia: This one is a fear that sometime, somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you.
  3. Anablephobia: These peeps have a fear of looking up.
  4. Dextrophobia: A fear of objects at the right side of the body.
  5. Levophobia: A fear of objects to the left side of the body.
  6. Ithyphallophobia: Fear of seeing or having an erect penis (well, we’ve all had those moments…late at night in the local bar, bad choices…).
  7. Eurotophobia: Fear of female genitalia (see above).
  8. Kinemortophobia: This is a fear of zombies. It makes perfect sense.
  9. Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia: Fear of long words, the very definition of irony.
  10. Papaphobia: This is a fear of the Pope…doesn’t seem that odd to me…

Thanks for listening to my ramblings. If, like me, you have one of the phobias above my grand giveaway prize will ease the pain a little. Simply click below to enter, and if you have time why not sign up to my newsletter here www.endofdayslove.com.

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Emma Shortt wanted to be an astronaut, or maybe Captain Janeway. Because she didn’t really think her career choices through very well she ended up in an everyday geek job, crunching numbers and sighing over syntax. It seemed a long way from the stars and in an effort to escape Emma decided to get serious about her other passion. Writing. Several years later and Emma has yet to walk on the moon or sit in the Captain’s chair, but she is still writing. She scribbles stories in all sorts of genres, contemporary, paranormal, post-apocalyptic, historical, sci-fi…if she hasn’t tried it yet she will before long. The only common theme is the romance. A hopeless romantic everything Emma writes has a love story in there somewhere. She lives on the west coast of England with her very Greek husband and teenage kiddos. Apart from all things geek reading is her main hobby and she likes nothing better than getting home from a hard day at work and curling up with a book, though sometimes she gets home and writes one instead. Her zombie inspired novel, Waking up Dead, releases on October 22nd. She’d be super pleased if you checked it out. Find Emma at her webiste, on Facebook and on Twitter as @EmmaShortt.

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