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Thursday, 10 October 2013


The Metro may be a free newspaper, but it often contains some very interesting articles.  Yesterday was such an occasion.

The central "Metro in focus" item concerned phobias.  In the course of the article, in both the text and the graphics, a number of phobias were identified.  Some of them are probably well-known, but there were others that were certainly new to me!  Did you know, for example, that Siderodromophobia is a fear of rail travel?  In the UK, I thought that it was just the cost of some season tickets that brought on a panic attack!  Or were you aware that Batophobia is, not the fear of flying mouse-like creatures that may, or may not, wish to suck all of the blood from one's body, but a fear of tall objects.  Not many Batophobes heading to the Shard then!  I even discovered that Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13.  As I celebrate my birthday on the 13th (Feb, if anyone wishes to send a card, or even a gift!), I am glad that I am not Triskaidekaphobic!

The article made the simple, but profound, point that phobias are irrational.  Now, it also went on to say that the person experiencing it is not.  York-based Dr Paul Blenkiron, an NHS consultant psychiatrist, and cognitive behavioural therapist (somebody's got to do it!) states: "The person who's got the phobia usually knows that it's irrational or out of proportion to what's going on."  The advice given is to move toward one's phobia, confronting it step by step.  For someone suffering from the well-known arachnophobia, this could mean starting off by hanging a picture of a spider in their home, before moving on to getting up close to the real thing in a pet shop - or in the bath!

One so-called phobia that was conspicuous by its absence, was 'homophobia'.  Now there may well be such a phobia, but it is certainly not that which has been adopted by the media, and those with more of an axe to grind than they have a classical education!  If someone refers to me as a "homophobe", they are using the term to signify that I hate those of a homosexual inclination.

It is a false use on two counts.  First of all, my attitude towards homosexuals (include lesbians, transgenders, bisexuals) is not a phobia of any sort.  I do not have any irrational fear of any of them!  Secondly, it is patently untrue.  I abhor their sexual proclivity; I condemn their often militancy; I object to the way in which certain politicians seem to be prepared to bend over backwards to placate them.  But hate them?  Most certainly not.

One homosexual, well known to readers of the online (Glasgow) Herald newspaper suggested yesterday, in a comment, that Christian churches are not welcoming of the LGBT community.  He also suggested that, if they were, then they might have higher cash incomes!  I responded, as I tend to do (!):

"I suspect, Mr Otton, that you would find that you were made very welcome. However, your sexual proclivity would not be condoned, and you would be made aware that it is sinful in the sight of God. You would also, I trust, be assured that if you repent, and confess, and accept the salvation that was won for you at Calvary, then you will discover that "... if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come." (II Cor 5:17).

This is not "therapy". It is a work of God the Holy Spirit in the life of any individual who is willing to submit. Others have discovered the reality of it; you may do so as well. You remain on my own daily prayer list."

Phobias - all too real for many.  Homophobia - there's really nothing of which to be irrationally afraid!

By the way, for those who might be interested, here are some more of the real phobias mentioned in the Metro article:

aerophobia - the fear of flying; anthropophobia - the fear of people; belonephobia - the fear of needles; oneirophobia - the fear of dreaming; gephyrophobia - the fear of bridges; coulrophobia - the fear of clowns; emetophobia - the fear of vomiting; ophidiophobia - the fear of snakes; ailurophobia - the fear of cats; automatonophobia - the fear of puppets; dendrophobia - the fear of trees; hastenburaphobia - the fear of grass; agarophobia - the fear of crowded places.  So, what's your phobia?  Feel free to leave a comment!

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