Posted by: penpatience | August 1, 2015


1“Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”
                 ~ Winston Churchill



Are you a “fraidy cat?” I believe everyone is afraid of something. Fear is a basic emotional response to something we perceive as a threat.  A lady walking her dog may be frightened of the huge dog growling by the fence every time she walks by. She’s afraid the dog may escape the yard and attack her or her pet. Your employer is temporarily furloughing workers. You fear you may be one of them. You’re afraid if you’re laid off you may not be able to pay your bills. These are reasonable or rational fears that anyone may experience. However, phobias are different. They’re fears that are unreasonable and irrational of things that might happen and may be caused by childhood events, parent admonitions for childhood safety (don’t chase a ball into the street) or just by viewing a traumatic incident.

When I was a teenager I became stuck in an elevator between floors while working part-time in a local bank. A peer employee thought it would be funny to push all the buttons and laughed when I became frightened. Yes, we got stuck and it took the elevator maintenance crew over an hour to free us. This incident has resided in my subconscious mind (as phobias do) since that horrific experience. Today, I take the stairs and avoid elevators whenever I can. Whenever possible I stay at hotels/motels/inns where I can walk to the floors instead of taking an elevator. When I must ride an elevator I do. However, I’m uncomfortable and mumble a few Hail Mary’s praying the doors will open. I am claustrophobic:)

Writers need to know the differences between rational and irrational fears—common fears versus unreasonable phobias. More important, whether referenced in non-fiction articles or fiction stories, phobias must be identified and spelled correctly. When I researched phobias, the list was mind-boggling and long. Listed below are a few of the more common phobias:

Acrophobia – fear of heights
Agoraphobia-fear of open spaces or being in crowded, public spaces like markets; fear of leaving a safe place.
Claustrophobia – fear of confined spaces
Dentophobia – fear of dentists
Ergophobia – fear of work
Genophobia – fear of sex
Hydrophobia – fear of water or rabies
Necophobia – fear of death or dead things
Nyctophobia – fear of the dark or of night
Pyrophobia – fear of fire
Verminophobia – fear of germs

Unfortunately, I believe the following phobia could be anathema for writers:

Bibliophobia – fear of books.

If you are a bibliophobe, please do your best to overcome it. There are too many great authors and books just waiting to be read!

Resources for Phobia lists: ,,




  1. Fortunately your article, Frances, was not as fearful as I expected it to be. Thanks for posting it. I like the little list you provided at the bottom.


    • Carole, thanks for the feedback, there were phobias I never heard before, lists of them. take care


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