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to get quite irritated with people who claim to have a 'phobia' of something when they really don't?

(139 Posts)
extremepie Fri 29-Mar-13 15:18:13

Inspired by a spider thread on another part of the site grin

Ok, I know that a phobia is somewhat subjective and affects everyone differently but it really gets on my nerves when people claim that they 'have a phobia' of something when what they really mean is 'I'm a bit scared of X' or 'I really don't like X'.

It isn't the same thing!

For example, I have a friend who claims to have a 'spider phobia' - she says she finds it hard to put a glass over them and take them outside, she gets all itchy afterwards.

Compare that to me who has an 'actual' phobia of spiders - recently I was in hysterical tears because there was a HUGE spider in the kitchen and DH had gone out. I could not deal with it myself, I couldn't even go near it, I phoned my friend at 11pm and begged him to get out of bed and remove it because I didn't know what else to do. When that didn't work I put a frantic message on facebook to everyone who knew me to come and help me, I was desperate!

I just think that for every person who claims to have a phobia of something who doesn't really it makes people less, I dunno, tolerant and understanding of people who genuinely do.

Like people who would scare you 'for a laugh', thinking its funny to trap you in a room with 'X' or shove 'X' in your face and then being all 'oh, I didn't think you'd react that badly' when you have a panic attack!


squeakytoy Fri 29-Mar-13 15:24:18

I am sure people have different levels of phobias.. it isnt a competition to see whose is worse than someone elses.

I dont like masks.. they actually terrify me and make me feel sick, but I can get on with daily life at halloween and other times when I know there will be lots of them in the shops and kids walking down the street wearing them. Some people wouldnt be able to cope.

tak1ngchances Fri 29-Mar-13 15:29:26 is a fear when you have an aversion to something but can tolerate it, it is a phobia when that aversion is completely intolerable and impacts on your quality of life.

havingamadmoment Fri 29-Mar-13 15:29:34

I am terrified of prawns. People assume its that i dont want to eat them, its not just thatI dont want to look or even think about them. If dh were to eat a prawn I couldnt stay in the room - i may even actually feel like crying or being sick. I have NO idea why.My dad and stepmother (who is chinese and cooks chinese food like dumplingy things found it perfectly acceptable to hide a prawn in my food a few years ago because they were sure i would like it if i tried it. I didnt. In fact i cried and now i cannot face chinese at all stupid i know.

extremepie Fri 29-Mar-13 15:30:29

No, it isn't a competion smile

Maybe my AIBU should actually be 'AIBU to think that when someone claims to have a phobia it should be treated as something serious and not something they should just be expected to 'deal with' or 'get over'

Have you ever had some 'funny' people scare you with masks on purpose, knowing that you are afraid of them?

That's what really winds me up!

fuzzysnout Fri 29-Mar-13 15:30:54

YANBU. Being 'a bit scared of something' is not a phobia.
I am afraid that it also irritates me that any adult who does not have a genuine phobia should make a pathetic fuss about something as ridiculous as a non poisonous small spider such as are generally found in UK homes. This may not be a popular view, but generally I think it is a ploy for male attention and it demeans women (and funnily enough, more often than not it is women) who behave like this and need 'rescuing' from the scarey spider.

extremepie Fri 29-Mar-13 15:33:06

^Sorry, the masks question was aimed at squeaky!

That's exactly what I mean tak1ing!

Often phobias and your reactions to them are out of your control and I find it really insensitive when people roll their eyes at you and tell you to grow up smile

zwischenzug Fri 29-Mar-13 15:35:54

I've known people to say they had a phobia of beans and buttons. If you ask me they just say it to make themselves sound more interesting.

extremepie Fri 29-Mar-13 15:36:46

I suppose the difficult thing is knowing the difference between someone who is making a fuss because they love the drama and want to be 'rescued' and who is genuinely terrified.

I am genuinely terrified, even of small non poisonous spiders - I have been rescued several times by women so is definately not a ploy for male attention in my case!

tak1ngchances Fri 29-Mar-13 15:39:14

It doesn't really irritate me when pee say they have a phobia and they are a bit scared of something.
What annoys me is people minimising phobias, telling me to just get over mine. I see a psychiatrist, I am on anti depressants and I have therapy for my two phobias. If I could just pull myself together I would! :-)

tak1ngchances Fri 29-Mar-13 15:39:41

Pee = people. Damn iPhone!!

ENormaSnob Fri 29-Mar-13 15:40:38


I think people can share a phobia but react in different ways.

I used to be like you with big spiders but over the last 2 years I have made a conscious effort to capture the smaller ones in a glass. My physical reactions are the same but I try to control it for the sake of my ds2.

I also developed quite a severe phobia of flying following a bad flight in 07. Prior to this I actually enjoyed it. I still fly but have nightmares, irrational thoughts and palpitations for weeks running up to it. On the day I take a shit load of diazepam washed down with masses of wine. I get totally out of it on the flight otherwise I would have a full blown panic attack sad

I would happily not fly again but I don't feel that's fair to my family.

YouTheCat Fri 29-Mar-13 15:40:50

I really don't like dogs in some situations (off lead/not under control). But I wouldn't call it a phobia though those situations make me feel very scared and vulnerable.

extremepie Fri 29-Mar-13 15:42:27

Yes, I suppose some people do zwischenzug, especially if it is an 'unusual' phobia.

Iamsparklyknickers Fri 29-Mar-13 15:47:55

I agree that a lot of people use it interchangebly with 'fear/strong dislike'.

I'm 'afraid' of jellyfish, not to the point I can't control my reaction to them or the ocean, however I think I might have a phobia of hospitals confused.

Practically speaking, I've no problems with the idea of them at all, I had an op a few years ago and was incredibly nervous of the anathestic to the point of tears - since then I get stupidly tearful and shakey whenever I'm in one - It's very odd, I know I'm being a dick and don't have any extreme feelings of fear at all and don't avoid them. Very odd!

Vicbic Fri 29-Mar-13 16:00:00

My DP thought I was just scared of spiders. At Halloween a few years ago, when I was 5 months pregnant, he put a handful of plastic spiders under the duget cover for a joke.
When I pulled the cover back to get into bed and saw them I screamed and screamed, hyperventilated and then cried for about half an hour.
He was horrified and hasn't done anything like it since!

Vicbic Fri 29-Mar-13 16:03:56

Am I very sad to be really chuffed I posted my last post at EXACTLY 4 o'clock! ?!

KateShmate Fri 29-Mar-13 16:04:34

No, OP, YANBU and it annoys me too!
I'm the same with spiders - and I know that my fear is completely ridiculous - I spend hours trying to get to sleep at night; but every tiny noise I think is a spider after an 'incident' last year.
We were in bed and there was a plastic bag by my side of the bed - I'd had a 'feeling' that there was something there, but turned the lights out and went to bed. Kept hearing this bag rustling and rustling, so turned the light back on to see this bloody huge thing go flying under the bed.
We couldn't find it and I spent 2 weeks sleeping in the spare room until DH had found it and captured it.
It completely freaked me out - was sat in hysterics for hours that night.
Even sat here now, if I hear a tiny rustle, I automatically think that it's another spider somewhere. As a grown woman, I still have to sleep with the light on because of my fear - nearly every night I spend about 2 hours lying in bed, hearing a tiny noise and then flushing boiling hot in panic.
Even sat here now, I'm constantly checking the corners of the room, behind me etc etc.
It just annoys me that people think that my 'phobia' must be the same as theirs, and because they are able to catch a spider in a glass, then I must just be being stupid. They make it into the competition by saying 'I know about phobias! I have a phobia too but I just get it in a glass, you're being ridiculous and pathetic'. I accept that people have different levels of phobias, but I just can't bare it when people try to say 'they have a phobia too and they can still capture spiders'.
Don't get me started on people who try to pretend there's one in your hair or something. Why? Does it make them happy to completely freak me out? Bastards.
So after that essay OP, no, YANBU.

Viviennemary Fri 29-Mar-13 16:06:40

A phobia is an irrational fear. I don't think it matters how great the fear is if it's still there. But I think our fear of spiders is inbuilt because of poisonous species so it's not entirely irrational in my opinion. The same with the dark and fear of jellyfish and so on.

mmmerangue Fri 29-Mar-13 16:07:20

Can I chuck in that Morgan Freeman quote:

"I hate the word homophobia. You're not scared of anything, you're just an asshole"

Obviously this is internet gold and could be false/true/misquoted by me or others.


HesterShaw Fri 29-Mar-13 16:12:55

Sounds to me like you could do with some hypnotherapy smile

I am scared of spiders. I was showering once and didn't notice one which was in the folds of the shower curtain. It was enormous - brown, long legged, many eyed and hairy and I first saw it about three inches from my face when I had a headful of shampoo. I had real proper hysterics.

Is that a phobia? I don't know. I can - just about - manage to cover a medium sized stationary spider with a glass and, shuddering, take it out to the garden far away from the house.

extremepie Fri 29-Mar-13 16:13:08

Hehe, I like that!

KansasCityOctopus Fri 29-Mar-13 16:18:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HesterShaw Fri 29-Mar-13 16:24:01

Kansas, I'm the other way round. Lightning is my other fear. Thunder is fine.

I would say that spiders and lightning are my only two though.

HesterShaw Fri 29-Mar-13 16:24:23

Shit that sounded smug. Didn't mean it to blush

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