Learn to face your rarest phobias

In this week’s column, I’ll take a look at three rare phobias and some of their causes.

The first is pogonophobia, and it is the fear of beards. The symptoms are similar to other responses to phobias and fears and include increased heart rate, breathing and perspiration if exposed to a beard. A lack of control, feeling overwhelmed and irrational beliefs about the beard are common. For example, the person might associate the beard with poor hygiene and fear they will get sick or die if exposed to one. This might come from seeing homeless people who have very bad hygiene and are bearded. They might also associate beards with an earlier traumatic event in their lives that included someone with a beard — for example, an abusive parent. 

The next phobia is alektorophobia, and it is a fear of chickens. The fear usually goes beyond an actual real chicken and might include pictures or cartoons and extend to other birds. As with most fears and phobias, alektorophobia isn’t rooted in rational thinking. Someone who suffers from it may believe that chickens are prone to attacking people or they are unhygienic.

Chronomentrophobia — a fear of clocks and time — is of these three the one I have seen most often. With my patients who have had such a phobia, it was usually rooted in their anxiety over managing time and feeling they don’t have enough of it — or that they are ruled by the clock.

With phobias, the fear response is adaptive and protective. People avoid that which is perceived as undesirable or a threat. This defense, though, only gives more power to the fear — making it grow even more daunting in a person’s head.

– Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist. His book, “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days,” is available now. E-mail him your questions at jonathan@jonathanalpert.com.

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.


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