Living With Animals: Nervous Nellies

By Hope Bidegainberry on April 8, 2019
Closeup of shocked woman over white background

Last week’s topic, ailurophobia (fear of cats), led to several conversations which helped me realize what a bunch of nervous nellies we are. Seriously! I know 3 victims of lepidterophobia (fear of butterflies) although one may actually be the closely related mottephobia (fear of moths) since most moths are nocturnal and that’s when her angst surfaces. For some reason (it was a slow afternoon), I then searched well-known people terrified of pretty little things which flutter and learned that Nicole Kidman is the most famous sufferer of lepidterophobia. (I’m imagining a pretty bizarre telethon!) From that I went on to learn that Tyra Banks suffers delfinphobia (fear of dolphins), Kristen Stewart equinophobia (fear of horses), Orlando Bloom swinophobia (pigs), Lyle Lovett bovinophobia (fear of cows, which must be especially challenging for this Texas native), Scarlett Johansson katsaridaphobia (cockroaches), Justin Timberlake arachnophobia (spiders), Britney Spears herpetophobia (reptiles), Katie Homes agrizoophobia (raccoons), Jake Gyllenhall a fear of ostriches (so uncommon it does not even come with its own –phobia), Eminem strigiformophobia (owls), Brad Pitt selacophobia (sharks), and Matt Damon ophidophobia (snakes). Woody Allen’s list was too long for this column. My personal favorite anxiety of the rich and famous, however, must go to Walt Disney who suffered musophobia or fear of mice. Goofy! (Sorry, had to say it.) No, this is not a belated April Fool’s column. These are apparently all real.

Three animals rank among the ten most common phobias: dogs (cynophobia), spiders (arachnophobia), and snakes (ophidiophobia), although germs are kind of teeny tiny animals and mysophobia ranks up there as well. (The others are fear of flying, small spaces, thunder and lightning, open or crowded spaces, heights, and medical procedures. Public speaking comes next.) Three (or four) of ten is a pretty big percentage, sadly. I’m glad that the rest of us are here to shower our adoration on snakes, spiders, owls, mice, raccoons and yes, of course, cats and dogs (as well as butterflies). I love them all. Just promise to protect me from clowns (coulrophobia) and porcelain dolls (pediophobia), especially ones with a hint of teeth showing, barely, behind that satanic smirk, and everything will be absolutely fine.

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