Letter no. 26: The Truth about Phobia
I was reading this book when an anecdote flashed on my mind. It happened 2 years ago, at Wendy’s, I was with my friend Sheila.
When I was a small boy, I had a morbid fear with any flying bad insects. I call them bad as they weren’t really beautiful to look at specifically coackroaches or flies for that matter. I would always shout with nerves whenever I see them fly around. In the contrary, I had extreme fascination with flying good insects. I call them good as they weren’t really harmful and were pleasant to see as the glowing fireflies, flickering bees and cuddling moths. They were such a beauty to behold.
I eventually learned from my childhood that every human being has an emotion called fear that manifests our normality; and that no man is fearless as far as our bodies are concerned. Even those things that we fear have their own fears like how a fly fears being eaten by a frog, and so on and so forth. It is an adaptive response of human body. Something automatic.
But of all these fears, a question once popped out of my head. What really are fears Michael? One day I questioned a psychologist and a friend, Sheila.
I asked her, “What is fear of snakes called?” And she answered abruptly, “Opidiophobia“.
Then I asked without proper pronouncing the word. ” Where did that come from?”
“Greek word ophis meaning snakes, and phobia meaning fear“.
“I know but why do we have fears?” I further asked.
“Cause we are humans enveloped with emotions both positive and negative. Fear is a negative emotion and that balances positive emotions as happiness.”
I understood. But the follow up question zipped her cerebrum.
“When we fear snakes, do we fear them as how they like or do we fear being bitten by them?”
She remained quiet, bagged answers from the ceiling and shot them over to my questioning brain.
“It’s the second one.”
From then I realized the truth, or if not thee truth at least something about phobia. You know Michael, you fear snake not because some of them look scary, and ugly, but the fact that they have fangs and venom, they can kill you. Just as to say that there’s no fear of heights, but we fear falling from heights. You don’t freak out seeing buildings from the under but you fear looking down and see chasing cars when you are on the tip of a high rise building. In short, you don’t fear heights but you fear falling. We have claustrophobia because we don’t fear of enclosed places but we fear dying inside an enclosed vessel. You don’t say you don’t like some random strangers looking at you because you fear them. Deep inside, you fear being grabbed or caught by those strangers, and that’s xenophobia. We fear watching horror movies not because it screws our nerves and it’s creepy but we fear of dreaming them in the middle of our sleep.
You see the logic of phobia Michael. Sometimes, we define things literally, but you know, the true meaning of every word lies on reading between the lines. Real fear is an aftermath.
Have a logical Sunday.