The Sum of All Fears

A guide to all the pre-existing and new phobias the coronavirus has exacerbated: The Sum of All Fears.

We all have fears. Some of us are afraid of heights while others are scared of spiders or snakes or sharks. Everyone is afraid of something and sometimes the fear is so pronounced that it becomes a phobia. We all had plenty to fret about before, then along came this scary coronavirus.

Sum of All Fears
Image by Derrick Tyson,

Fortunately, in times of crisis world leaders have often found calming words to ease the worry as when:

  • FDR told the nation “there is nothing to fear but fear itself” or when,
  • During the Second World War, British leaders advised people to “keep calm and carry on” or more recently when,
  • President Trump declared “we’re doing a great job. It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

Despite Trump’s reassurance, the coronavirus is stressful, especially for people who were already suffering from Virophobia, the fear of viruses. But it is also hard on individuals who are coping with Mythophobia, the fear of false statements, although they can get some relief by turning off Fox News.

Due to the stay at home protocol, our current crisis must also be difficult for individuals who are combatting Isolophobia, the fear of being alone or Ecophobia, the fear of their own home. The stress must be overwhelming. However, the most traumatized are probably those afflicted with Masklophobia, the anxiety caused by seeing people in masks or costumes (it’s a real thing). And they thought HALLOWEEN was creepy!

My heart really goes out to those stricken with Obesophobia, which is the fear of gaining weight. Due to the pandemic, they are trapped in their homes, unable to go to the gym and are never more than 30 feet from the refrigerator. Often times their plight is amplified by a trapped spouse who has developed a compulsive cake baking disorder (CCBD) and feels the need to constantly bake cakes which demand to be eaten. No, your house isn’t getting smaller. You’re getting larger.

The coronavirus has exacerbated these pre-existing phobias, but the pandemic has also brought on a number of new terrors. In the past few months the nation has been gripped by a no-toilet-paper-phobia as well as a Netflix-a-phobia which is the fear that you will lose your Netflix connection and will have to actually talk to your spouse. And, while the fear of drinking alcohol, Methyphobia, is nothing new, especially among certain religious groups, the fear that liquor stores will no longer be considered essential services is causing widespread panic.

If you find all of this depressing, don’t worry, there is some good news. There are a number of phobias that, due to the pandemic, no longer cause much anxiety. A good example is Sociophobia which is the fear of social situations. People with this condition can stop worrying because there are no more social situations. We introverts are shouting Hallelujah!

Other terrors that are abating due to the advent of the coronavirus include:

  • Agoraphobia – the fear of leaving one’s home or being in open or crowded places. This has ceased to be a problem as we aren’t supposed to even go outside or be in a crowd of more than ten people. We have to shelter in place inside our homes.
  • Abutophobia – the fear of bathing and showering. You don’t need to bathe anymore because of the elimination of social situations as noted above. But if your aversion to washing includes not washing your hands, you are probably screwed.
  • Aerophobia – the fear of flying which has gotten even scarier lately. But the good news is we don’t have to do it anymore. No one is doing it and,
  • Autodysomophobia – the fear of people with a vile body odor. We Pig-Pens are still out there and in growing numbers since so few of us are now bathing. However, since you aren’t allowed to get within six feet of us you’ll never notice.

Also the dreaded Kinemortophobia, the fear of zombies, will probably soon vanish as the coronavirus will, no doubt, make zombies a thing of the past. These guys don’t wear masks, don’t practice social distancing, and being undead must really take a toll on their immune systems.

We are living in very scary times. But scientists will soon develop a coronavirus vaccine and then, with the exception of those with Vaccinophobia, we will be safe. As for the sum of all the other fears, don’t fret over them, instead sit back, relax and remember the immortal words of Alfred E. Newman “What, me worry?”

Stay safe. Don’t be like the zombies. Wear a mask and practice social distancing. And for God’s sake, take a shower.

JC Wade
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