The ten most unusual phobias

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A phobia is an intense and irrational fear of a specific situation, object, person or activity. Although we are generally familiar with common phobias such as acrophobia (fear of heights) and claustrophobia (fear of small spaces), some phobias are less well known.

Here are 10 of the most bizarre phobias:

OPTOPHOBIA

Fear of opening your eyes

If ever an award was given for Most Inconvenient Phobia, it would have to go to optophobia - the fear of opening one's eyes! Although the act of opening our eyes is something that few of us ever give thought to, for optophobics this simple, daily act can be a nightmare. Luckily, if you are reading this list, you most likely aren't suffering from this condition!

GELIOPHOBIA

Fear of laughter

Many studies suggest that laughter is great for our health; helping to build social bonds, improve mental health and look after the heart. However, for those suffering from geliophobia, the act of laughing, or being around those who laugh, can actually cause overwhelming fear and anxiety. Suggested reasons for geliophobia are anxiety about laughing in inappropriate situations or of being laughed at by others.

ARACHIBUTYROPHOBIA

Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth

It may not be a debilitating or life-altering condition, yet no list of weird phobias would be complete without the inclusion of arachibutyrephobia - the inexplicable fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. Although peanut butter is clearly not obligatory for a healthy and satisfactory life, arachibutyrophobics could miss out on the speculated health benefits of peanut butter, including its abilities to lower cholesterol and help ward off heart disease.

HELIPHOBIA

Fear of sunlight

A rare but unfortunate condition, heliphobia refers to the fear of sunlight. Not only does going out in the sun instigate severe feelings of anxiety and panic in sufferers, but heliophobics may also experience fear of bright lights. Most often the fear or condition is associated with an anxiety about the perceived dangers of the sun. However, unless you happen to be a vampire, avoiding the sun entirely is likely to be an impossible and unnecessary task. It can also be dangerous for your well-being, as sunlight is good for regulating the mood and protecting bone health.

DEIPNOPHOBIA

Fear of dinner conversations

Although many people suffer from a general form of social anxiety, deipnophobia takes a rather more specific twist and is restricted to a fear of carrying on a conversation while eating. Although this can cause discomfort and awkwardness for dinner party guests, it seems that deipnophobics could be on to something, as remaining silent while eating can actually help benefit digestion.

NEOPHOBIA

Fear of new things

While many people are wary of change, neophobia is a phobia that refers to an intense and irrational fear of all new things and experiences. Neophobia can impact on happiness and well-being as sufferers miss out on many life-enhancing experiences. When applied to the diet it can also mean that sufferers miss out on various healthy foods and nutrients. Research has also shown that the stress of neophobia can shorten life expectancy.

SYNGENESPHOBIA

Fear of relatives

Many of us experience embarrassment or irritation with our families at times. However, those with syngenesphobia suffer from an excessive fear of their relatives. Unless there is a specific, explicable reason for these fears, it is worth seeking help to alleviate this phobia and help you bond with relatives as research shows that forming strong family ties can help to increase life span.

ABLUTOPHOBIA

Fear of washing and bathing

Although many children are resistant to being washed, this condition is much less common in adults. However, for a rare few the thought of stepping under a shower is quite literally terrifying! The good news for ablutophobics is that skipping the occasional shower can help to preserve natural oils and good bacteria that protect your skin and help to prevent disease. However, making it a regular habit is unlikely to benefit either your health or social life.

GENIOPHOBIA

Fear of chins

Geniophobia is an overwhelming fear of chins. Yes, that innocuous body part attached to the lower part of your face! Further phobias of seemingly innocent body parts include genuphobia (fear of knees), chirophobia (fear of hands) and ishicascadiggaphobia (fear of elbows). As these phobias can make normal social interaction extremely difficult, treatment through therapy is highly recommended.

CHOROPHOBIA

Fear of dancing

If nightclubs, weddings and small children in tutus fill you with an overwhelming sense of dread, you could be suffering from chorophobia - the fear of dancing. Regardless of dance ability and whether or not you are required to hit the dancefloor, any situation or event that relates to dancing can be a source of fear for chorophobics.

- Hamilton News

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