Strange Fears


Photo by Sarah Liu


We are all afraid of something. Whether it be heights or spiders, these fears are what make us human. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the anticipation of a threat of danger. A simple experience from the past can invoke these fears, etching that memory of pain into the back of our minds. Certain fears are common, such as a fear of the dark; in some cases, however, a childhood memory of horror develops into the most curious of fears.


Photo by Sarah Liu

Theatrophobia

“I’ve met other people who don’t like movie theaters, but I’ve never met anyone who won’t go to one like I won’t,” senior Sydney Sorrell (above) said.

Ever since she was 13 years old, Sorrell has had a fear of movie theaters. She said many people believe she could have developed this fear because of the 2012 Colorado shooting at the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises”. However, Sorrell said she thinks movie theaters are very dirty, and she’s very uncomfortable being in a dark room with strangers.

“They never wash those seats, and there’s people in there all day, and there’s food everywhere and germs,” Sorrell said. “It just really freaks me out. It’s really overwhelming.”

Recently, Sorrell went to a movie theater with a friend who worked there. Even though there were not many people in the movie theater at the time she went, Sorrell said she was still very nervous.

“I feel like something’s going to happen,” Sorrell said. “I have really bad anxiety already, and in a movie theater it just gets way worse. This sounds really overdramatic, but sometimes I won’t be able to see anything, and then I get really paranoid that something’s going to happen or that I’m going to catch some disease that’s hiding in the chairs. It’s kind of gross if you think about it.”

Conquering her fear has crossed Sorrell’s mind, but she has not taken any steps to overcome it. Sorrell said she loves to watch movies, so getting over her fear would help her see movies immediately instead of waiting for them to come out on DVD.

Sorrell said, “I really love films. Like, I love the Oscars and I love the Golden Globes and I love watching the award shows. It kind of really stinks when I haven’t seen any of the movies (that are nominated) because the majority of them aren’t available to watch outside of the theaters yet.”




Photo by Sarah Liu

Masklophobia

Every time sophomore Cait Harshberger (above) and her family go to Walt Disney World, she has to face her odd fear of costumed amusement park characters.

“My family just took pictures and laughed while I was, like, sobbing,” Harshberger said.

When Harshberger was 6 years old, her family went to a character brunch at Walt Disney World where her fear first began to develop.

Harshberger said, “I just hid under the table and had a napkin over my head for double protection. Then, I felt this feeling in the back of my neck, so I lifted up the napkin and Winnie the Pooh was under the table just staring at me. I freaked out, and ever since I can’t go near a costume character.”

When Harshberger was 12 years old, she said she tried to overcome her fear by going up to each costume character and getting a photo with them. She said because of that trip, she is now only frightened by scary costume characters.

“Last summer we were back in (Walt) Disney World, and I was chased through the theme park by a Star Wars character that was this weird troll thing. He chased me, and I ran into the women’s restroom and cried,” Harshberger said. “I think now, though, most of the fear is wondering who could be in there.”




Photo by Sarah Liu

Hippophobia

“My whole family is really invested in the horse world, and then there is me, who can’t even step foot in the barn anymore,” senior Nick Surette (above) said.

Surette said he began taking horseback riding lessons because his whole family rides. However, six years ago during a lesson, he had a traumatizing accident involving his horse.

“I fell off a horse when I was first learning how to ride it, and the horse ran over me,” Surette said. “I was actually terrified and, like, in shock. After I fell, my trainer actually picked me up from the ground, caught the horse, told me to stop being a baby and put me back on the horse, even with two broken fingers.”

Afterward, Surette said he was silent for three days, talking and eating as little as possible. Surette even tried to overcome his fear by cleaning the stalls, but after another bad experience, he was back to square one.

“(My family was) really confused at first because everyone falls off (horses) and has bad accidents, so they didn’t really understand why it was affecting me in a different way. But I feel like I was young when it happened, so that just ingrained itself in my memory,” Surette said. “I just started developing this fear (that) I’m actually on top of this thing. Like, I’m in charge of it, but it’s, like, 600 pounds and it’s huge. It’s actually kind of terrifying just thinking about it.”




Photo by Sarah Liu

Fear of Adhesives

Senior Shea Rhoutsong (above) said, “I started screaming—like, a high-pitched 5-year-old girl freaking out about a Barbie doll breaking kind of screaming.”

Rhoutsong had a stuttering problem. Her friend started a joke where every time Rhoutsong stuttered, her friend would put a piece of tape on her to act as a reminder. She grew to loathe the feeling of the adhesives, which eventually developed into a fear.

“I just kind of grew to hate it because taking off the adhesive felt weird to me. Basically things that can be peeled off (freak) me out,” Rhoutsong said. “It got me to stop stuttering, though.”

Many people do not know of Rhoutsong’s fear, as it is uncommon. Once when she was with her friends, one friend jokingly put a sticker on her shoulder, just to see what she would do. However, her friend didn’t know of her fear.

“I felt it as soon as he put it there, and I started screaming. I was freaking out, and I kept on screaming, ‘Get it off me.’ My friend took it off, and I explained to him that I think adhesives are disgusting (in) the way they feel, and they freak me out,” Rhoutsong said.

People use tape every day, so Rhoutsong’s fear is a daily challenge. Rhoutsong said she uses staplers and glue instead of tape, but it is still difficult for her to complete projects or even to wrap a present. She has gotten to the point where she can hold certain tapes, like masking tape, on her thumb, and she is currently working on trying to hold duct tape.

Sorrell said, “Yeah, (my fear is) a little strange. It’s not something that you would hear every day. It’s not like being afraid of heights or snakes.”


Share this Post

About the Author

Sitha Vallabhaneni