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The Fear Factor: Phobias

From aviophobia, the fear of flying, to zelophobia, the fear of jealousy, the list of phobias that harrow the human mind runs long.

Treating Phobias With Technology

The treatment of phobias is going high-tech as well, with virtual reality being used as a tool in helping people overcome their anxieties.

"Virtual reality is the other newer treatment being used for phobias," says Wilson. "It's three to four years away from being used on a broad basis because the equipment is so expensive to use, but there are four or five places in the U.S. that are using it today."

The University of Washington is one institution that uses virtual reality (VR), coupled with real life, in treating phobias. According to a news release, "Researchers at the University of Washington's Human Interface Technology Lab measured aversion and anxiety responses of students, some of whom had a clinical phobia of spiders, before and after undergoing VR therapy. During the therapy, some of the subjects touched a realistic model of a large spider while grasping a virtual one."

The combination of fact with fiction worked: Those students were able to come twice as close to a real spider after completing three therapy sessions, and reported a greater decrease in anxiety during treatment, than those who underwent VR therapy alone.

Phobias, A to Z

Whether its ablutophobia, the fear of washing or bathing, or zoophobia, the fear of animals, phobias can truly be harrowing. From, here are some of the more peculiar:

Alektorophobia: Fear of chickens
Bogyphobia: Fear of bogeys or the bogeyman
Coulrophobia: Fear of clowns
Dendrophobia: Fear of trees
Euphobia: Fear of hearing good news
Frigophobia: Fear of cold or cold things
Geniophobia: Fear of chins
Homichlophobia: Fear of fog
Isopterophobia: Fear of termites, insects that eat wood
Japanophobia: Fear of Japanese
Kosmikophobia: Fear of cosmic phenomenon
Lutraphobia: Fear of otters
Mnemophobia: Fear of memories
Novercaphobia: Fear of your stepmother
Ophthalmophobia: Fear of being stared at
Paraskavedekatriaphobia: Fear of Friday the 13th
Ranidaphobia: Fear of frogs
Sciophobia: Fear of shadows
Textophobia: Fear of certain fabrics
Urophobia: Fear of urine or urinating
Verbophobia: Fear of words
Wiccaphobia: Fear of witches and witchcraft
Xanthophobia: Fear of the color yellow or the word yellow
Zemmiphobia: Fear of the great mole rat

And, finally, there is panophobia, or the fear of everything.

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