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Friday, March 11, 2016

Beware the Elevator Pitch! (and other hybrid phobias)

Claustrophobia by Elevator (from The Pop-up Book of Phobias)

As I was flipping through the venerable The Pop-up Book of Phobias yesterday, lightning struck: We’re hung up on single-dimensional phobias. Why not also combine two complementary phobias into a symbiotic hybrid phobia? That occurred to me when my brain suddenly fused the volume’s separate illustrations for Claustrophobia with Glossophobia (fear of public speaking).

The book depicts Claustrophobia via the confines of a packed elevator. For Glossophobia, it gives you a podium-eye view of an intimidating audience with a menacing microphone trained at your proboscis.  

Fear of Public Speaking
Combining the two into a single nightmare, however, ups the ante. If you're a literalist, you get the bidimensional phobia, FEAR OF THE ELEVATOR PITCH—the bane of insecure sales people, job interviewees, and entrepreneurs pitching venture capitalists.

Fast on the heels of that revelation, it occurred to me that Coulrophobia (fear of clowns) and Globophobia (fear of balloons) also make a good match. Why not add balloons to an evil clown’s repertoire?

Eyewitness to Globophobia

I once witnessed Globophibia in action when an otherwise well-adjusted coworker had to leave our office after signing for a birthday card and an accompanying delivery of helium balloons. Returning five minutes later white as a driven sheet, she confessed to a fear of balloons dating from early childhood. Her father, it turned out, had been a state trooper with a macabre sense of humor.  Could popping balloons, I asked her, suggest the sonic side of gun play?  “I’ve never thought of that,” she confessed.

With that in mind, I’ve included Wikipedia’s roster of clinical phobias at this link. Create your own hybrids; coin your own nomenclature. Enchant your guests at your next soiree, unless, of course, you suffer from Partiophobia (fear of parties).

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