Fear can be a healthy thing. Since the beginning of time it has spurred humans away from danger, preserved our health and well being, and helped keep the clown population from overtaking the earth and installing their preferred system of cannibalistic feudalism. Sometimes though, the human mind will, for a variety of complex reasons (actually it's just what psychiatrists call “craziness”) latch onto a particular irrational fear. You saw that Maury Povich episode with the chick that was afraid of pickles, right? It doesn't make any sense, but it's a thing, because Maury says so. Same with these phobias, except instead of Maury telling you what to think, here we are. There's no way this can go wrong.
The British used to be legitimately terrifying. They sent heavily armed gangs of chavs on ships to whatever country looked profitable and then let them go nuts pillaging it. Meanwhile, the British aristocracy spent their time reclining in giant leather chairs fashioned from Irish skin and bones. They would sip gin, watch pure-bred dogs tear apart foxes, and mumble “I say,” through their mustaches. Actually the British aristocracy hasn't really changed. This may be what leads to the weirdly specific fear of British culture and/or people known as “Anglophobia.” Who am I kidding? It's British cuisine. Any country that speaks English and has a hallowed national dish called “spotted dick” is most certainly worth fearing.
Fear those haughty Brits as much as you want, but who is afraid of Holland? What's to be afraid of, exactly? The friendly, accommodating attitude? The culture of sense and tolerance that seems to pervade the nation? The guy willing to sell you a decriminalized mixed j of hash and fresh, because “A leedle of each, together, should prove best ef both worlds for yoo.” Excuse me while I ponder the underlying philosophy of the Dutch. Even conservative cultures can find a place at the Dutch table, like the online Muslim sex shop that caters to clients who want erotica that doesn't offend Sharia law. Fair enough. So what's so scary about Holland? Go to Amsterdam, enjoy the hospitality of a Leidseplein coffee shop for a few hours, and then walk North toward the harbor. Enjoy the lights, the canals, the beautiful architecture of the city center. Keep walking North. Oh, you seem to have come to the Red Light District, it won't hurt to maybe take a shortcut through this “Trans” alley, as it must just mean, “a sensible way through.” (It will hurt your eyes very much and you will want to pour bleach in them.) This will not “prove best ef both worlds for yoo.”
If you harbor an acute fear of pleasure, then you are a hedonophobe. What kind of being harbors an acute fear of pleasure? Ask a Catholic. Or a Protestant. Or a Jew. Or a Muslim. I mean, if the person in question is reasonably educated he or she will probably give you a very articulate answer (I am in no way implicating his or her religion in this, were you? You racist!). Hedonophobia might seem antithetical to human nature, or even nature in general, as most sentient beings seem to seek pleasure and fear pain. Not so for the intrepid hedonophobe, who is destined to live his life like a reverse Amy Winehouse. Perhaps both are just as inexplicable, like two poles of the same primal human instincts. One pole smells a lot more like vomit and Aqua Net, but you get what I'm saying. Miracles: lying scientists don't even know how they work.
It's pretty hard to find information on ideophobes, or, those who suffer from a crippling fear of ideas. This may be because if you suffered from a fear of ideas using most forms of communication would be decidedly horrifying. Of course, this would only render communication that can connote ideas out, so congratulations Twitter, you're still in the running for that ideophobe demographic.
I understand that some people are afraid of specific animals. I don't care for snakes. Something about their vacant, murderous eyes reminds me of Channing Tatum. That's just me. Why, though, would anyone have a crippling fear of otters? Do their vaguely human little-hands remind you that one day they will rise up and become our overlords (they will, but this will not even happen until 2012, so, come on)? The Internet's love of otters is well documented, but who among us is terrified of otters? Is this some kind of mix-up, where a person has never actually seen an otter and is confusing it with a chupacabra or Kim Kardashian or something? If you've seen otters at an aquarium, their general merriment and cuddle-factor seem undeniable. This phobia is only understandable if you happen to be say, a freshwater clam and don't want to be cracked open and sucked down the throat of a super-furry mammal, but if you are not a clam and still fear otters you are insane and I will ridicule you to your lutraphobic face. No judgment, just saying. Insane.
Poet Kim Rosen argues that, “In most cultures, reciting poetry is not relegated to the poets, or to the alabaster halls of academia.” True, but most cultures have a rich history and poetry is an integral part of that history and its values and beliefs. America, on the other hand, was founded by slave owners who didn't want to pay taxes. They were old school versions of the Tea Party. They actually were the Tea Party. So it's not surprising that metrophobia, the fear of poetry, is often assigned to Americans. I don't think that most Americans are actually afraid of poetry, I think that they are busy occupying themselves in other avenues. Americans have plenty on their plate, what with starting needless foreign wars and then watching films where Channing Tatum plays a soldier in a a needless foreign war. Write about that, Emily Dickinson! You could read Hart Crane's sweeping epic of American emotional history “The Bridge,” or you could jack it to Megan Fox washing a car. They're almost interchangeable (except not in any way).
Does a bear shit in the woods? Yes, most certainly, and people should rightly have a healthy fear of bears, who are majestic animals but who also can present a legitimate danger to humans disturbing their habitats. Why is the Pope (who is a non-lethal cousin to bears) so scary though? It's well documented that the Internet figured out that the Pope is actually the Emperor from Star Wars a long time ago, but the Emperor is pretty cool guy. He shoots lightning and isn't afraid of anything. I can understand being afraid of the pope if you were, say, a young boy, a woman afraid of losing her medical rights, a sexually active African in need of STD prevention, or the person who had to feed the pope soup (technically known as the Papal Soupwalla), but the rest of us don't need to worry about him.
I was really hoping this would be a fear of pterodactyls, but like so many of my hopes, this one ends in bitter disappointment. Pteronophobia is actually a fear of being tickled by feathers. This too seems an odd fear, mostly because being tickled by feathers only actually occurs in old cartoons. This is like a fear of falling anvils. It just doesn't happen anymore. During the Great Depression people often used feathers to tickle each other because they could not afford fingers… But these days, with our finger abundance and new finger-replacement technology, tickling with feathers is simply an antique curiosity. The only reason to be afraid of being tickled by feathers would be who is at the other end of the feather. It seems legitimate only if the answer is “Gary Busey,” “One of the STD cauldrons from 'Rock of Love',” or “the Pope.”
Walloonophobia has a decidedly funny name, but it's no joke to anyone suffering from a dread of Walloons. You can read that link and still not understand what a Walloon actually is. I guess it's like a French-Belgian who works for Willy Wonka or something. Walloonophobes make Anglophobes look reasonable because last time I checked England actually exists. If I suffered from this fear, I think I would just stop hanging around certain geographic areas of Belgium, particularly Willy Wonka owned businesses. Problem solved!
The great mole rat is a truly terrifying animal, though there seems to be some debate on whether a great mole rat actually exists or not. There is a real animal called the “naked mole rat” which is like a great mole rat, except it hangs out in hotel rooms with Charlie Sheen. The great mole rat may or may not exist, but that's no reason not to fear it. In any case, great mole rats should be respected, but not feared. They should also be given suffrage. And little hats. And little electric cars. And scissors. Wait, it just got scary again.
Dinophobia should rightfully be a fear of dinosaurs, but fearofstuff.com helpfully explains that it is actually the fear of being caught in a whirlpool, because “the result of being caught in a whirlpool could mean death.” I guess I understand being afraid of death, and also understand the fear of drowning, but why whirlpools exactly? I thought whirlpools only existed in old cartoons and gross swingers' backyards, but a little googling proved they actually exist. Flushing a toilet actually causes a small whirlpool (not that I have ever watched a toilet flush, as I am a gentleman and only relieve myself in Papally sanctioned soup bowls of fine china). I suppose this means that Dinophobes probably have extremely grotesque bathroom-related nightmares. I really wish this had been about dinosaurs.
Some sagely advice for cherophobes, who are afraid of "merriment and gaiety": stop reading Renaissance author Ben Jonson's “Bartholomew Fair” and go out and live your life. Really, it's okay. No one outside is threading the maypole, or playing “Stam the Mathy.” That's not even a real game -- I just made it up. You will find pedestrians crossing streets and traffic flowing evenly down the avenues, but you will not find rosy-cheeked hobbits cheerfully puffing pipe-weed and doing traditional little-folk jigs. Unless you are in New Zealand. If you are in New Zealand (why are you in New Zealand, by the way?) then definitely stay indoors with all the doors locked and blinds shut. No one anywhere else even uses the words “gaiety” and “merriment” anymore.
It's okay to be afraid of the bogeyman, if you are TEN YEARS OLD. Otherwise, you surely realize that the bogeyman is actually just Old Gregg, and is not to be feared but rather placated by agreeing to marriage. Just marry Old Gregg and don't worry about the bogeyman. Your new life of touring in a world class funk band and being married to a slimy mer-shim is not so bad. You get to drink Bailey's and funk out, so don't complain. It's better than what most of us have, what with our boring, functional fingers and tired otter .gifs. We have to spend our days unsuccessfully scouring the Internet for dinosaur related news and soullessly masturbating to what Hollywood tells us is appropriate. You can at least travel to exotic and possibly mythical locations, like Walloonia, while doing what you love: laying down the funk. Bogyphobia is just bigotry. Bogey's are people too.
I'm not going to write that word again, because I am afraid of it, but it means being afraid of having peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth. This would be a weird phobia to suffer from, because it would mean that Internet videos of dogs eating peanut butter would pretty much translate to holocaust-level terror. That's hard to imagine. It's hard to say what it would be like to live with Arachibutyr-, sorry I just can't write it. It's freaking me out, man.
This last and most specific phobia is King among men in the phobia world. Anatidaephobia is the fear that somewhere a duck is watching you. Dinosaurs-schminosaurs. We're talking about duck surveillance. If you've never thought about the abject terror of being constantly monitored by a duck, then you are part of a dying majority, because Anatidaephobes have a Facebook group with over 200,000 members. This of course gets us into some pretty heavy territory: if the duck surveillance is happening (and it is most certainly happening) is it organized? Is there a duck C.I.A. that is watching us right now? Are their duck terrorists as well? Is there a Mallard bin Laden sequestered in a Pakistani cave right now plotting how to attack innocent humans? Is he wearing some sort of duck turban? No. The answer to all these questions is simply no. That in no way means that we shouldn't be terrified of ducks and their murderous, vacant eyes.