Phobias can bring a lot of suffering to the people who have them. However, many people have at least one phobia. Let’s explore some phobias for the letter H.
It is estimated that about 12.5% of adults in the United States experience specific phobia at some point in their lives. And those are just the people diagnosed because most people with anxiety disorders don’t usually go to the doctor or get diagnosed. So the purpose of the Dictionary of Phobias series of articles is to raise awareness and help people with phobias understand them.
I have shared before the most common phobias for the following letters:
This time, I will focus on the letter H. Here are the most common phobias beginning with H.
This is a really interesting phobia, especially because of the object. For this phobia, the object can be a phenomenon, a situation, a person, or even a thing. In “Hagiophobia,” the objects are saints or holy things. But it is important to take into account that this extreme fear is mostly irrational.
People with this phobia suffer from intense anxiety levels for unusual reasons. They may face an extreme fear of things most people find peaceful. For this reason, people with Hagiophobia may fear judgment; they may also feel guilty because most holy things and saints are directly related to religions, which are supposed to bring peace. Also, most people with hagiophobia can suffer panic attacks just by going to church. And that is really overwhelming for them, considering those places unite tons of people at the same time.
According to Christopher G. Morris in the 1992 “Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology,” Hagiophobia can also be known as Hierophobia, and in psychology it is:
An irrational fear of sacred objects and rituals.Christopher G. Morris. (1992). “Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology.”
It is important to take into account that the term “holy things” is extensive. For instance, people with “Hagophobia” might fear holy or sacred rituals and ceremonies. Therefore, it might not be the objects themselves, but the ceremony or the whole church experience. That is why most people with “Hagiophobia” avoid going to church and Sunday services.
As it happens in most specific phobias, “Hagiophobia” does not have a specific or single cause; the phobia can come from a combination of aspects. So, the reason or the cause behind a phobia can vary from one person to another. Also, Hagiophobia’s symptoms can vary depending on the person; however, its most common symptoms include an inability to cope with anxiety and panic attacks.
Since physical contact is considered a normal need in human beings, it might seem really strange that someone avoids that need. However, someone with Haphephobia might experience an extreme and intense fear of being touched. This phobia is more common than many people think.
Haphephobia is different from other phobias because its object is not a person or a thing; the phobic object is an action receipt—the act of being touched. Therefore, the object triggering the fear is not a specific person. While anxiety is a huge factor, it is important to note that “Haphephobia” goes beyond being uncomfortable. No matter the other person’s intention, people with “Haphephobia” find being touched to be overwhelming and painful.
According to Andrew Thompsom in his 2019 “Spiders, Clowns and Great Mole Rats: Over 150 Phobias that Will Freak You Out, From Arachnophobia to Zemmiphobia” Book:
HAPHEPHOBIA is the extreme fear of being touched… Sufferers see touching as an invasion of personal space… While haphephobia is innate in some people, others develop it due to a bad experience like an assault…Andrew Thompson. (2019). ‘Spiders, Clowns and Great Mole Rats: Over 150 Phobias that Will Freak You Out, From Arachnophobia to Zemmiphobia‘. Available on Google Books.
This is something important to discuss. As I said before, phobias are the result of a combination of many internal and external aspects. But this specific phobia is one of those cases in which it can come from a traumatic experience, even when the cause of the phobia will depend specifically on each person. This phobia can have many common symptoms with other phobias. However, the main symptom is the avoidance of physical contact. For people with this phobia, activities like using public transportation or attending concerts can be a nightmare.
One more crucial thing to know about “Haphephobia” is that it impacts a person’s romantic and non-romantic relationships. A major reason for this is that physical touch helps us relate to each other. “Haphephobia” is also known as Thixophobia or Aphephobia.
Extremely afraid of traveling? Well, that has a name, which is “Hodophobia.” This is a specific phobia in which the phobic object is not an object. This phobia is actually triggered by a situation that encompasses transport, particularly being in another place.
Anxiety from this phobia goes beyond regular travel anxiety. Instead, it causes a severe and overwhelming fear for people by imagining or knowing they will travel. And the phobia is there even when people living with Hodophobia know where the transportation is going and that it will be safe.
Most people experience nausea, diarrhea, trembling, feeling they are losing control or going crazy, and even panic attacks. People with this phobia can also experience sweating and the sensation of irregular breath. Depending on the person, this phobia might have a different focus. So, some people might say the horrible part is going on the road, while others can say it is the idea of changing their regular routines.
According to Dr. Hemendra Singh, Hannah Awayz, and Dr. Murali T in their 2017 “An Unusual Case of Phobia: Hodophobia” article for the “International Journal of Indian Psychology”:
Hodophobia is the fear of travel. People fear travel because of the unpleasant feeling of being in unfamiliar places far away from home. As with other phobias, people with Hodophobia experience an intense fear at the thought of traveling.Dr. Hemendra Singh, Hannah Awayz, and Dr. Murali T. (2017). ‘An Unusual Case of Phobia: Hodophobia‘ article for the ‘International Journal of Indian Psychology‘.
So, people with Hodophobia are extremely fearful of something most people recognize as pleasant or relaxing. That is the reason why these people can are ridiculed and misunderstood. Additionally, most people with this phobia feel like they cannot travel. So they usually think they need to travel with a partner or group.
As you can see, phobias are really interesting. They show us how different humans are from each other. I mean, you probably read these three phobias and said: “that makes no sense.” However, many people understand phobias and find them important. And that is the main reason behind this series of articles, not only raising awareness but also raising empathy.
But why empathy? Well, because people with phobias already experience a lot of suffering, judgment, and/or criticism by others. When the truth is that we or someone we know has a phobia no matter the phobic object. Take these three phobias for the letter H as an example, and ask someone from your close circle if they can relate. You would be surprised that even if you do not have the phobia, at least someone near you has it!