Everyone is afraid of something, but for most of us it's something that "makes sense" like spiders, snakes, etc. That's not the case for everyone, though.
Scientists haven't fully figured out the mechanisms of fear. Some seem to be instinctive, like our fears of predatory animals such as sharks, crocodiles, etc. But others don't seem to make any sense at all. There are theories that they may develop after a trauma, but that's not always the case.
As far as science is concerned, the mechanics of fear are an unsolved mystery.
Some people develop fears of totally innocuous things like butterflies, pieces of string, or the breeze. Yes, a fear of the breeze or moving air is a real thing. It's called "aerophobia" and can be so bad that people who suffer from it can't go outside, be near a window where they might see plants swaying in the wind, or even be in a room with a fan.
Quora wanted to know:
People's responses were incredibly varied and unusual - demonstrating that just about anything can end up as a trigger to someone. Before we get into the answers, we wanted to take a moment to thank responders for their willingness to be vulnerable and share.
Some answers have been edited for clarity or language.
I know this is going to sound odd, so bear with me.
I have a fear of wrists.
For as long as I can remember, I have been terrified of the underside of wrists. I can't look at my own wrists. I definitely can't touch them. I don't own a single watch or bracelet. Sometime I even struggle with long sleeved shirts, because I can feel it touching my wrists.
One time, I scratched my wrist on a nail and I almost passed out.
Anytime wrists are shown on TV, I have to turn away. Once someone unexpectedly cut their wrist during a show, and I curled up in the fetal position and couldn't move for at least 10 minutes. I still shiver when I think about it.
I haven't met anyone else with a fear like mine. Most people just laugh and hit their wrists together, just to see my reaction. *shudder*
Oh, and wrist tattoos? I will never understand how anyone could ever want one.
As a kid I was terrified of DoodleBob.
Whenever his episode would come on I would run to the kitchen and hide, peeking every couple minutes to see if the horror was over yet.
I don't know why, but I found him so scary. I couldn't stand his talk, his walk, or his look. Maybe it was because he was a mock-off of the loveable SpongeBob.
With every "'me hoy minoy'" I trembled with fear. With every crazy shriek I screamed on the inside. Every time he flicked that pencil and came up with something new I feared that he would create something even more horrifying than himself.
Looking back now, I actually find it kind of funny and feel a bit stupid that DoodleBob had managed to make me run for the hills.
I have an insane fear that someday I'm going to crash my car - on purpose.
Sometimes, while I'm driving, and I'm being tailgated, I have this incredible urge to slam on my brakes and have the guy behind me plow into me. More often, though, when I see a stopped car in front of me, I want to hit it with mine, just to see what would happen. Even pedestrians, I start to target them before I realize what I'm doing. I want to watch them jump and run away.
Also while driving I get insanely-strong urges to:
- While I'm at a red light, just go, even though there's cross-traffic going.
- Take my hands off the wheel and see how long I can go before I crash.
- Drive into the reservoir. It looks so pretty.
- Close my eyes and see how long I can last.
That last one especially scares me. Once or twice I even started to do it - just closed my eyes for a few seconds before I stop myself.
Butterfly In The Sky...
The fear of butterflies. I don't know exactly why or how I came of to be scared of such innocent and innocuous creatures, but I am afraid of butterflies since childhood and even now at the age of 22! Not to mention how utterly disgusting moths are.
Even seeing a picture of butterfly on internet causes heart palpitations.
Ancient humans have always been afraid of flying creatures, maybe I somehow carried the trait. It is strange and embarrassing at the same time, to be afraid of such things. Generally I am not afraid of insects and reptiles. Neither am I afraid of birds or bats.
But encountering a butterfly really sends chills down my spine and my mouth runs dry. Eww it's so disgusting.
I have a very weird fear. Well, it isn't so much a fear but an aversion. I loathe the very idea of it.
I have a phobia of 'socks'.
It is worse if it is wet socks or dirty socks. Muddy socks. Old socks. Unwashed smelly socks. Socks with threads coming off.
I know that socks won't bite me and they won't band together to attack me or anything. It isn't exactly fear but more like disgust. That doesn't mean I don't run to a completely different corner of the room when I see socks. I just hate them.
I hate the very thought of them.
This phobia is so weird that it doesn't even have a name.
I have a fear of elevators… something about falling down and getting splattered at the bottom. Or even weirder, to go up so fast that it flies out of the roof and falls down the building.
Nowhere Is Safe
I am truly afraid of ants.
When I was 13-ish, my ex-stepdad tried to "toughen me up" by making me help him remove weeds and plant some new plants in the garden without any gloves. He shoveled a large chunk of ground into my hands and I was supposed to place it to the side. It turned out that that particular piece of ground was also an anthill. Not the superficial useless dirt on top of the ground but the actual heart of the thing.
He shoveled an ungodly amount of ants into my unprotected hands and chest. I passed out a bit, then bolted into the shower screaming obscenities to everyone and everything. I ran and stripped naked as fast as humanly possible, got under the frigid water and danced like an octopus doing Capoeira while on meth.
My dad walked in and told me I was a wimp for being afraid of ants. Then, very large, very red and EXTREMELY ITCHY spots appeared on my skin. I ended up having to go to the hospital. That's where we were informed that I am actually highly allergic to ant-bites.
After that debacle, I swear ants hunt me down! They follow me everywhere to finish the job!
One time, I was using the toilet when I noticed a black tiny speck moving up my calf. It was an ant. I looked to my right and there was a literal conga line of ants ambling unto the back of the toilet. They were going for a sneak attack!
Then, I was doing push-ups during martial arts class and an ant bit me on my left hand right between my index finger and middle finger. It swelled up and I could not use my left hand for anything. That single ant bite removes my ability to use that hand for about a week. A clear use of intimidation tactics and psychological warfare to lessen my will to live.
Another time, I saw an ant on top of my foot while I was showering. Rambo Ant hated me so much that it decided to attack me through a literal waterfall of death (to the ant). Rambo Ant risked its own life to attack me when I was most vulnerable — half-asleep, naked and alone.
Last month, I was happily reading under my covers at night when I felt a tiny imp stab my inner thigh. It was an ant. It bit me about 2 inches away from my genitals. The area swelled up and I could not wear underwear for days. The ant could have gone for the money shot but, it did not. It chose not to. It was a warning. The ants were telling me that nowhere is safe. Not my home, not my bathroom, not my bedroom and not my own bed. NOWHERE IS SAFE!!!
I thought my fear was pretty weird, but after reading some of the other answers I feel pretty normal.
I'm terrified of cows; to the point of panic attacks, lots of tears and an awful lot of swearing.
An Extension Of My Mind
I'm afraid of things puncturing my skin, because my skin feels like an extension of my mind. I have to look away and distract myself when I get vaccines. There's no way I could ever inject medicine into myself. I can poke my finger with a pin, but just barely, and it takes all my willpower, and the very outer edge of my finger doesn't count as part of my skin anyway.
Bad news: I'll probably die of something that could have been treated using injected medicine.
I have a certain fear that people would say was weird. I'm afraid of portraits. They make me feel very nervous and self conscious. They're just literally watching me, their eyes following me wherever I go.
I don't like photographs of people looking at the camera, it's as though they're staring back at me. Any magazine, poster or picture of people looking at the camera or at me will make me either leave the room or cover the pictures over.
Flushing toilets. If the toilet isn't flushing it's fine, but every single time I flush the toilet it scares me. I absolutely can NOT flush a toilet in the middle of the night. I like using public washrooms cause flushing a toilet in public is the least nerve wracking for me. Don't know why it freaks me out but it has ever since I was around 7.