The Fear of Flowers
It is normal for me to write about ways in which humans are more connected to nature than we think. But our detachment from nature is just as interesting.
One of my friends recently told me that she was desperately afraid of fog, as in she is as afraid of fog as most people are of the dark. She can laugh about this phobia, and yet I wonder how she gets along living in Boone.
It turns out that there is a name for her disorder: homichlophobia. Upon learning this, I decided to seek out other phobias related to the natural world. In the following list, one might gain a new perspective on humans and the natural world.
Ranger Amy’s Top Five Most Bizarre Nature Phobias
Anthophobia: Fear of Flowers
We have all heard of arachnophobia. Most of us know someone who suffers from ophidiophobia (fear of snakes). But flowers? Sufferers experience undue anxiety even though they realize they face no threat from flowers. Any genus or species of flowers can instill fear, as can any flower part, such as a petal or stem.
Selenophobia: Fear of the Moon
I suffered for this for a short while as a child. My grandmother let me watch “The Wolf Man” (1941). She probably thought the movie was too old to frighten a child of the 1980s. She was wrong.
Lutraphobia: Fear of Otters
Bacteriophobia: Fear of Bacteria
My sister, who is a nurse, used to have a sign in her house that read, “My idea of cleaning is to sweep the room with a glance.” I, too, believe that over-cleaning goes against human nature. My reasoning behind this is that we are bacteria. The human body carries more than 100 trillion bacteria. Five pounds of your body weight is comprised of the tiny single-celled organisms. The mouth alone has several hundred species of bacteria. Each tooth is its own ecosystem.
Doraphobia: Fear of Fur
Sufferers of this fear avoid fur-bearing animals, such as dogs, cats, foxes, beavers and rabbits because fur is repulsive to them.
Did you identify with anything on the list? What are you afraid of when you are outside? I willingly admit to having a healthy fear of lightning and heavy wind, but also a slightly exaggerated fear of the dark.
Having some fear of the natural world is natural. We have evolved over time to fear things that might hurt us. I would argue that fear is an inherent part of our outdoor experiences. But how many of our fears are irrational? Which of your irrational fears do you pass on to your children?
To paraphrase Buddhist doctrine, the path to fearlessness is to face your fears and not become paralyzed by them. To me, this means that I need to get out and explore the forest at night, in the dark. Perhaps what I will find might not be as frightening as I once thought.
If you have a question concerning flora and fauna, please email (firstname.lastname@example.org) All of your questions will be answered. One will be featured next week. See you on the trails!
Amy Renfranz is an interpretive park guide on the Blue Ridge Parkway. She is a certified naturalist through the Yellowstone Institute and a certified environmental educator in the state of North Carolina. Her comments are made independently and do not reflect the views of the National Park Service.