Phobias and the New York City State of Mind

Phobias are kind of fun. Well, except for if you are one of the 10% of the adult population that is estimated to suffer from phobias to the point that day to day life is impacted.  Phobias as such are quite scary.  I have a fear of flying but I still engage in constant business travel. I see flying as a necessary evil and cannot wait until teleportation comes to fruition.  Anyway, learning about some of the weirder phobias makes for an interesting morning read. I cannot but help to ponder what life in New York would be like for those suffering from some of these more odd and rare phobias.  More specifically, it appears that there are phobias that can be either mitigated or enhanced by living and breathing the New York City air.


Melanophobia: Fear of the color black.  Have you heard that grey is the new black? Yeah, not really. Check out randomly the closet of any New Yorker and you will find that about half of the items are black.  Black is a very utilitarian color for clothing in NYC as it can better hide the slush from the streets and your spilled pasta and lunch cocktails. There is no melanophobia here. If you suffer from it and live in New York, move out to California as soon as you can.


Catoptrophobia: Fear of mirrors.  This is an interesting dynamic phobia for New Yorkers. First off, every woman walking down the street eventually looks at her image reflection at least ten times while walking to work or elsewhere. You think I kid. Follow a woman randomly some time and note how many times she turns to her head slightly right so that she can catch how she looks. Well, actually, don’t follow a woman randomly. That might be considered stalking-even if it is for scientific endeavor. Really, a recent market study found that women will check their reflection an average eight times a day.  With all the store fronts in NYC, it is easy for women to check out their reflections more than eight times a day. Second, Hispanic women- or more specifically Puerto Rican women- might have an intense fear of looking in the mirror at night for ghosts and other-worldly spirits can stare right back at ya. I suppose that is more like spectrophobia. Either way, if you are afraid of mirrors New York may not be for you.


Pagophobia: Fear of ice or frost.  When I moved to the New York City suburbs, I developed an intense hatred and fear of snow. It is near impossible to walk in suburbia when the snow falls.  Considering that there are barely any sidewalks the snowfall is extremely treacherous as it turns to ice. Suburbia and a lack of a car equals Pagophobia.  In New York City, on the other hand, there is no frost because of all the exhaust fumes, dog urine and thousands of stomping feet.


Misophobia (AKA Mysophobia): Fear of being contaminated with dirt or germs.  Have you ever been to a pre-k or kindergarten class in the middle of winter? It will scare the crap out of you and give you the Heebie-jeebies as well as a good dose of misophobia. The other day, while dropping my son off at kindergarten, his classmate sneezed out an enormous wallop of snot. It was so huge I felt my stomach getting ready to purge out my morning eggs. That same day, I came across a pile of fecal matter at the bottom of a NYC subway stairwell.  There was no way of knowing whether it was human or animal-produced. The TV character Monk would never have survived in NY.  Weill Cornell geneticist Christopher Mason recently documented that there were 137 different types of bacteria on five subway lines in the city.  So if you suffer from misophobia stay clear of NY.


Agyrophobia: Fear of streets or crossing the street.  This is actually something more New Yorkers could use. The way we jaywalk in New York City, shows we have no collective fear of crossing streets. But perhaps we are a bit too brave or drunk. Among those 18 and older, 15% of pedestrians and 11% of cyclists hit by a car in NYC were found to have consumed alcohol beforehand.


Arachibutyrophobia: the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth.  My dog never had that fear. He enjoyed a good spoonful or two of peanut butter and just kept licking his lips and the inside of his mouth. Growing up, however, peanut butter just didn’t seem like a safe form of sustenance. I didn’t get the appeal. I feared peanut butter would cause one to choke. Then I got a NYC dog. Peanut butter is all the rage with them. Every doggie bakery has a peanut butter treat or two. A New York dog will surely take away your arachibutyrophobia.


Metallophobia: Fear of metal.  Growing up in the South Bronx, I saw a lot of odd, illegal and painful things. One thing that stood with me was that of watching a classmate in 5th grade get his mouth washed out by a teacher. The soap-washing part wasn’t so bad to observe. It was the brillo pad that she used to wash his mouth that made a deep impression on my brain. Since then, the thought of metal in my mouth… Eek, I can’t keep writing about it.  Teachers and their brillo pads. Just in case you want to go searching for metal in NYC, you can get your metal detector permit here.


Myxophobia: Fear of slime.  Contrary to Hispanic stereotypes and cultural norms, I do not eat beans or avocados. I cannot stand so-called slimy foods. Runny eggs, make me run away. I always wondered why I had that food aversion. It very well could be that I have a bit of myxophobia. Although, I did love slimer on Ghostbusters.  Anyway, enough about me. Back to the streets of New York. There are tunnels everywhere in NY and there are all sorts of slime rising from beneath onto the streets of New York. Thus, slime is just about everywhere in New York.  There is even an online magazine site called New York Slime.  But New Yorkers did not vote Weiner or Spitzer into office again.


Omphalophobia: Fear of belly buttons.  I am not too sure if this phobia is common in New York. Contrary to California, people do not go around baring their belly buttons all the time. I know that I always did have a fear of my belly button. I felt that some large alien could come out at any point.  My belly button was an entirely foreign entity to me. Could other New Yorkers also be afraid of their belly buttons?


Hylophobia: Fear of forests.  I had no idea this existed until a recent work retreat. We were going on a team hike-gosh I needed a cocktail- when a colleague noted she wouldn’t be going. She was known for being a bit of a curmudgeon. However, it was not her grumpiness that stopped her from going on the team hike. She was actually afraid of trees and hiking. Wow. That seems very New York to me.


Doraphobia: Fear of fur or skins of animals.   This is something that tourists in New York City do not seem to suffer from. It always amazes me the number of tourists walking around with fur coats. I am afraid to walk besides them for fear that someone will egg them and mistakenly hit me.


Acousticophobia: Fear of noise.  New York City is the city that never sleeps. As such, noise is a constant in New York. Whenever people visit and you ask them how they slept, inevitably they answer “well, ok except for all the street noise.”  It takes some getting used to. Noise is the number one quality of life issue for New York City residents.  Drunken people walking home, fire trucks zipping along the streets, karaoke bars and yapping dogs trialing after larger-than-life rats mean that NY will never be quiet. New York is not for the acousticophobic.


Macrophobia: Fear of long waits.  New Yorkers get agitated by long waits. Everything has to move at the pace of a New York minute.   That is, unless you are waiting to get into the latest hot new nightclub, then you may find a few that brave the long lines. Otherwise, yes, New Yorkers have a major fear of long waits. You would think that fast food restaurants would learn how to handle the line queues better in New York.  Surprisingly there aren’t more acts of line rage in NYC. It is probably because we just throw our things onto the counter in a huff and make a big production of our exit.


Kenophobia: Fear of voids or empty spaces. If you suffer from kenophobia then come live in New York or Tokyo for that matter.  You do not have to fear being confronted with voids or empty spaces. Even Central Park is packed to the max.   You can even come by my block where there are always film crews hogging up every single square inch there is.   Plus, you then can catch hottie Matt Bomer filming his White Collar scenes. #win


Scriptophobia: Fear of writing in public.  Considering all the graffiti there is in New York, it would appear that diagnoses of scriptophobia will be minimal.


Harpaxophobia: Fear of being robbed.  Crime has decreased enormously in New York the past decade.  I have actually been robbed. However, it was not in New York. I was robbed in Atlanta. Whenever I go there now, in particular to their malls, I have a fear of being robbed.   One can be robbed anywhere. Need not be New York.   As a matter of fact, in 2013, the daily robbery average decreased from 2.2 to 1.1.  Woohoo! Go New York. But before you start flashing your money about, do use common sense. Hide your money deep, deep in your bag, don’t carry all your calls in one place and most certainly leave your social security card at home.


Katsaridaphobia: Fear of cockroaches.  You have a fear of roaches. Want an intense environment in which to immerse yourself and confront your Katsaridaphobia? Then New York is your place to find a cure.   There are thousands upon thousands of roaches. Or is it millions upon millions?  If you still have a fear of roaches and still want to live in New York, here are some words of advice. Don’t live above a restaurant, make sure to get a cat and don’t be a hoarder.   If you are really phobic, you can receive monthly updates on the movements of the city’s cockroach population.  Wow, there really is an app for everything.  But beware, there is a new cockroach invading New York and it appears to be quite hardy and able to withstand harsh winters.


What are the prevailing phobias in your neck of the woods?

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