Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Of birds and worms and other beasties

My work colleague Kerrie has a fear of birds. Like the dead reincarnate, she described them today, adding that she'd had to turn away from watching Frozen Planet because she couldn't stand the penguins. Those horrible pecking beaks, brrrr... they're evil. We laughed at the ridiculousness of her phobia, but it's real nonetheless.

Jane doesn't like worms, she goes cold at the thought and won't like the picture above. So, of course, the big boys delight in throwing juicy ones around the garden, while she takes cover in the shed. Meanwhile, Dylan dreams up dishes like worm spaghetti and thinks there's little more amusing than hiding a few in her handbag.

Phobias are common - in the last few days, I've had various comments from followers admitting to a dislike of moths, spiders and the like. They differ from rational fears in that we know they're unfounded. For example, I would be scared if I found a tiger in my bedroom - that's rational because it might eat me!  But I'm not (irrationally) worried that if I went upstairs now, there'd be one lurking in the ensuite.

Thankfully, I don't suffer from nature terrors - unless you count acute embarrassment at the prospect of dancing in public. I'm wary of horses and cattle, but that's not phobic in the true sense. And I wouldn't want to eat slugs, but again, that's not the same as considering birds to be the dead reincarnate. In fact, I often spend time imagining what small animals would be like if they suddenly grew - as a friend said to me recently, imagine a six-foot stoat!

I was about to end this post by asking what your fear or phobia might be. But then I remembered my stroll with Jane last night - we were passing a wooded area of town and she admitted, I wouldn't like to walk here alone. Neither would I, and it put me in mind that the animal I most fear, irrationally or otherwise, is my very own species.


  1. And so we mutate our fears of of our own kind into totem figures...
    A little more reading of The Golden Bough might help here.

  2. Hello Mark:
    As you say, most of these kinds of phobias are completely irrational and yet are very, very real. We are inclined to agree with you that, on a day to day level, it is the human species which is most to be feared.

  3. Spiders are the ones I can't easily cope with, though I know they can't hurt me. I know my fellow-humans can, and some would without a qualm, and yet, irrationally, I find it hard to fear them. There's nowt so queer as folk....

  4. Yep - I'm with you on that one.

  5. We have these phobias necause emotion is more powerful than reason.

    Poor Kerrie, that's a tough one, as there are birds around us all the time. She would hate it here, when the huge flocks of starlings go over. They remind me of the Spy birds of Crebain.

  6. Surely the only REAL thing to fear is fear itself.

    I'm ashamed to admit, I get a bit silly when a moth flies overhead, and slugs make me heave.

    Fear of the unknown can almost paralyse one if you let it take over, and can be worse than the actual reality.
    I wonder if deliberately facing your fears helps, or just creates a bigger one each time you conquer them?
    A first world problem gripping people regardless of how much money or power they have, seems to be 'fear of getting old'. Is that not the most ridiculous thing to fear?

  7. True. I have a phobia of moths but mankind hasdone me wrong far more often!

  8. I bet your dancing is just fine.

    Missed you, Mark


  9. I love birds very much but I go freaky if they come indoors.