What Scares Us the Most? Top 12 Common Phobias People Have

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There are all kinds of things that scare people, but phobias are different. A phobia is an anxiety disorder that produces a fear of certain people or things that are significant to extreme and sometimes irrational. Someone with a phobia will put a lot of effort into avoiding the thing or situation they fear so much.

What Caused Your Phobia?

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The source of a phobia can be biological or psychological, but it can also result from social or environmental factors. For example, someone who, as a child, was once accidentally locked in a tiny closet for several hours might develop claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces) or nyctophobia (extreme fear of the dark).

Following are some of the most common phobias people have. We’re leaving out claustrophobia and nyctophobia because we already mentioned them.

1. Acrophobia

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The fear of heights affects more than 6% of people. This is not merely unease about being near an exposed edge in a high place; it’s an extreme fear of bridges, towers, tall buildings, cliffs, etc. Interestingly, some people try to confront this fear by trying activities like rock climbing.

2. Aerophobia

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Few people enjoy airports and flying these days, but between 10 and 40% of Americans have a real fear of flying, even though flying is statistically far safer than driving. This condition can be treated by a gradual introduction and exposure to flying. It’s safe to say it’s one of the most common phobias people suffer from.

3. Agoraphobia

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This phobia which affects almost 2% of the population, is sometimes mistakenly called a fear of open spaces. Actually, it’s the fear of situations where escape can be difficult, including open spaces and situations like crowds.

4. Arachnophobia

Spiders give a lot of people the creeps, but people with arachnophobia are genuinely terrified of them. Even an image or the thought of an arachnid can trigger a bad reaction. Up to 15% of people have some degree of this common phobia.

5. Astraphobia

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Some people love lightning and thunder; some even seek out thunderstorms to film, photograph, and enjoy them. On the other end are those who are terrified of thunder and lightning, and they make up about 2% of the population.

6. Cynophobia

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Dogs are man’s best friend, right? Well, not everyone likes dogs, and some have an actual phobia of them. It’s especially common in people who were badly bitten or attacked by a dog during childhood. An estimated 7-9% of people have cynophobia.

7. Mysophobia

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Do you know someone who’s always sanitizing surfaces or avoids skin-to-skin contact with people? Are you that person? This might be a case of mysophobia, the fear of dirt and germs. Perhaps because it’s so common, there are no good statistics for how many people are true germaphobes.

8. Nosophobia

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Somewhat similar to mysophobia is this condition characterized by the fear of contracting a disease. True nosophobia is extremely rare compared to others on this list. It’s more commonly known as illness anxiety disorder, and it’s a condition genuine hypochondriacs, as opposed to attention-seekers, experience.

9. Ophidiophobia

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Everyone knows someone who’s afraid of snakes, and many readers here may be in that category themselves. About a third of all people report having a deep fear of snakes. Causes range from the Biblical Garden of Eden Story to fear of being bitten by a venomous snake to a traumatic experience with a snake, and all kinds of factors in between.

10. Social Phobia

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Also known as social anxiety disorder, this condition affects about 7% of Americans. It’s not quite the same as introversion, which is a preference for being alone, in small groups, or removed from social situations, especially when one may have to participate in an activity. Instead, it’s a deep dread of social situations that often includes the fear of being watched or publicly humiliated. Its most common form is the fear of public speaking, but it can manifest itself more broadly and extremely.

11. Trypanophobia

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As with aerophobia, there aren’t many people who actually enjoy getting shots, but 20-30% of adults are so afraid of needles and injections that they will avoid medical treatment to avoid
exposure to this phobia. It’s common for trypanophobic people to faint just before or while they receive an injection.

12. Vehophobia

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In a country as car-centric as the U.S., it’s pretty tough to have a fear of driving, but around 5% of the population is vehophobic. Experts estimate that the real number is much higher and that many people never have it diagnosed or treated.

9 Signs You’re Smarter Than Average and Three Signs You’re Not

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Do you think you’re smarter than most of the population? Check out these signs to see if you make the cut or if you should go back to school. 

9 Signs You’re Smarter Than Average and Three Signs You’re Not

16 Things Every Germaphobe Should Pack When Traveling

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What you can’t see can’t hurt you. At least, that’s how the saying goes. That age-old adage doesn’t sit well with germaphobes, though. Staying home isn’t always an option, though. Whether work-related, a much-needed vacation, or a trip home to see family, even germaphobes need to travel. 

16 Things Every Germaphobe Should Pack When Traveling

This article was produced by Our Woven Journey. Image Credit: Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock

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Demi Michele is a seasoned traveler, turned freelance writer. Having explored most states and ventured internationally, her love for outdoor cafes, new cuisines, and cultural immersion shines through her wide range of articles. Based in Texas with her family and two Scottish Terriers, Demi turns her adventures into captivating travel narratives to share with readers.