The 10 Most Common Phobias In America

Phobias are a tricky thing. Some of them are sudden (like my fear of heights) and some creep up on you over time (dental appointments…*shudders*).

What is a phobia?

A phobia is a completely irrational fear.

Sufferers know they are behaving oddly. But that doesn’t lessen the fear – in fact, it can make it worse. Phobias are a subconscious reaction — logic and rationality don’t help. In short, it is a flaw in their perception of reality.

I looked up the 10 Most Common Phobias. Did you know that the rest of the world fears different things than Americans?

Some of the “World Top 10” — Fear of snakes, darkness, another person, dogs and the dentist — did not make the U.S. Top 10 Phobia list, which is shown below.


Here are the most common phobias reported by American men and women:

1. Arachnophobia – the fear of spiders. There is no escape from these eight-legged beasts. They live in our houses, gardens, and even our places of work. True arachnophobes are even scared of pictures of spiders (which is why I didn’t use one for this post).

2. Social phobia – the fear of social situations. More than simple shyness. This is an extreme fear of being scrutinised by others, or humiliated by one’s own actions. This is usually where the fear of public speaking falls.

3. Aerophobia – the fear of flying. In a plane, obviously. Often paired with claustrophobia.

4. Agoraphobia – the fear of inescapable situations. The result is anxiety and panic attacks, which can easily become self-perpetuating. Extreme agoraphobes are confined to their own home, which is the only place they consider to be safe.

5. Claustrophobia – the fear of confined spaces. Sufferers will stay well away from elevators, trains and tiny cupboards under the stairs. May cause panic attacks if escape is not possible.

6. Acrophobia – the fear of heights. Sufferers may have panic attacks and put themselves in genuine danger if they can’t get down. Often confused with vertigo – which is merely a dizzy or spinning sensation and not necessarily caused by heights.

7. Emetophobia – the fear of vomit. No one likes the sight or smell of vomit, but these sufferers will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid the stuff.

8. Carcinophobia – the fear of cancer. Although it’s not contagious, a carcinophobe will believe he has cancer because he touched someone else with the disease.

9. Brontophobia – the fear of thunderstorms. Also known as astraphobia. Child and adult sufferers alike hide away from thunder and lightning, lest they suffer panic attacks and have difficulty breathing.

10. Necrophobia – the fear of death. Derived from the fear of being buried alive, after early excavations of coffins showed scratch marks made by trapped victims. Also relates to coffins and corpses.

There’s also a new phobia on the rise, according to British researchers:

Nomophobia is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact.The term, an abbreviation for “nomobile-phone phobia“, was coined during a study to look at anxieties suffered by mobile phone users.

Which one of the above surprised you the most? For me it was #7.

Fear of vomit? Really? I can only speculate on what parents do when they have that one.

Do you have any phobias? Have you always had it, or was there a starting point that you remember? Join this discussion at the #SocialIn hashtag on Twitter.

~ Jenny


About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm. Jenny also writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.

© 2013 Jenny Hansen. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

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