Did you know that according to the Anxiety Disorders Association, that one in 11 people at some time in their lives will suffer from some kind of phobia? Me? I am afraid to go on a cruise. The chances of sinking or being attacked by terrorists while on a cruise terrify me. Crazy, yeah, but not to me.
In this article, I will cover some phobias that begin with the letters W, X, and Z. See if you can work one or more of the phobias into a story. Even better, make the phobia the highlight of your story, the characteristic that sets your character apart from all others and makes him (or her) unique.
Remember, anyone who encounters something they have a phobia, or major fear, or will experience nausea, shaking, dizziness, vomiting, wanting to escape, shortness of breath, heartbeat irregularities, and panic attacks. Phobias are not to be taken lightly, but as writers, we have the freedom to use them to set our characters apart and make them more human.
Walloonphobia - The Walloons are a people who live in Belgium. They speak French, but also have their own language. Reputed to be musically talented, they are said to have invented the saxophone. They are also talented in the art of writing. So, why are these people feared? Simply because of differences in their cultures.
Wiccaphobia - This is the fear of witches and witchcraft. Hmm. Are people with wiccaphobia afraid of having a spell cast on them? Are they afraid of a witch causing some harm to them? Could your character be afraid of the possible influence of a person that he or she knows practices witchcraft? Lot of possiblities to explore here. This fear could have stemmed from the Salem Witchcraft trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts during the time of colonial America. During that time, many innocent people were accused of witchcraft when they had done absolutely nothing wrong. Maybe your character, who lives back in colonial times, is afraid of being accused of being a witch. Have some fun with this one.
Xanthophobia - This is a fear of yellow, whether it be just the word of the color. Upon deeper research, I discovered another item that those with xanthophobia might fear – the fantasy series, Xanth, written by Piers Anthony. Wow! What would it be like to have a phobia about a series of books you have written? That could make for some really interesting characters. What if you, the writer, happened to develop a fear of the series of books that you had written yourself?
Xenoglossophobia - This is the fear of foreign languages. The language that was foreign to you, would of course depend upon which native language you spoke. What more can be said? If you spoke Spanish, you would have a fear of any other language. If you spoke English, you would have a fear of any other language. This could hamper any career where a second language needed to be known.
Xenophobia - This is the fear of strangers or foreigners. Someone could fear their beliefs or their politics, not just their skin color or the fact that they are different. This could really be a problem, especially if one had new people move in next door who were not only of a different race, but also held different religious and political views.
Xerophobia - This is the fear of dryness. I guess this could also be described as fear of being without water or moisture. Someone with this phobia would not want to live in a desert or somewhere that was experiencing a drought. I imagine this person would also be afraid of dry lips, dry skin, dry anything. I see them as owning boxes of lotion and chapstick, as well as any other item that would reduce the threat of dryness.
Xylophobia - This is a fear of wooden objects or forests. How many wooden objects are we surrounded by each day that we hardly take notice of? Furniture comes to mind, as does paper. Would someone with this phobia be afraid of anything that is made from tree bark? That is a thought that would be interesting to explore since there are so many various items that use by-products of wood in their manufacture. These items include paints, chewing gum, detergents, and deodorant.
Xyrophobia - This is the fear of razors. A person with this fear would not want to shave. If it were a man, he would definitely have a beard – a really long beard. If it were a woman, well, she would not shave her legs or her armpits. Hmm. This could be bad if you lived in a society where the norm was to be clean-shaven, whether you were a man or a woman. What brings on this fear? Possibly the fear of cutting oneself has a lot to do with it since razor cuts can be really painful.
Zelophobia - This is a fear of jealousy or intense emotion. A person with this phobia may away from situations where they are afraid of showing intense emotion or jealousy. This could create great problems with one having a serious relationship with one of the opposite sex.
Zeusophobia - This is the fear of God or any other god. According to Greek mythology, Zeus was the god of thunder and the sky; he also was the king of all the other gods. A person with this fear in today's society may have a fear of churches, bibles, the cross, or anything associated with a church.
Zemmiphobia This is the fear of the great mole rat. What is the great mole rat? I tried to find out just exactly what these creatures are and why some people are afraid of them. I found a naked mole rat, a blind mole rat, a lesser mole rat, a greater mole rat, a silvery mole rat, and a big-headed mole rat: I could not find a great mole rat. They simply don't exist. So your character could have a phobia of something that is completely imaginary.
Zoophobia- This is the fear of animals, not a fear of zoos. Although I guess someone with this phobia probably wouldn't want to visit a zoo. It would make an interesting story if someone with zoophobia was to somehow end up trapped in a zoo.