The Wetland Phobia Factor

When I first started working in the wetlands field, I was warned that it’s a controversial subject, full of drama. It would not be the right area for politicophobes, or those who suffer from liticaphobia, an irrational fear of law suits. A phobia is a persistent, irrational fear of something—an activity, a place, anything—and it compels the afflicted person to avoid certain situations. For example, as a child I wasn’t afraid of ghosts but I was absolutely terrified of rubber Halloween masks. I refused to go into drug stores because they sold masks. As an adult, I like competing in costume contests on Halloween and it’s no longer a phobia. I just don’t like masks. Phobia goes beyond extreme dislike.

I feel sorry for people who are afraid of things found in nature. I have “city friends” who freak out when a squirrel runs by because a squirrel can resemble a rat, and some people are musophobic—afraid of mice and rats. Although many people have a fear of snakes or the well-known arachnephobia, there are some lesser-known phobias that might prevent or dissuade a person from visiting a wetland. First off, limnophobes are terrified of lakes, ponds and marshes, made worse by books about haunted lakeshttp://www.panphobia.com/places/
limnophobia.htm
. Others might worry that a sea serpent or fish, especially if that person is also a bit ichthyophobic, might lurk in the dark water. Hydrophobic people are afraid of water—period. A close relative is hygrophobia, a fear of dampness. After living through several floods, one might develop a case of antlophobia (fear of floods), or become lilapsophobic, if they can’t handle hurricanes. Those afraid of rain suffer from ombrophobia. My mother is a bit gephyrophobic when crossing a bridge but she doesn’t have potamophobia, a fear of rivers.

Although there is no such term palustriphobia for a fear of swamps, there are phobias for things found in swamps. Botanophobic people are afraid of plants, and it gets more specific: pteridophobes are freaked out by ferns. Ornithophobia is a fear of birds, and no wonder when sometimes, birds attack! http://aswm.org/wordpress/661/the-birds-attackin-wetlands-better-put-eyes-on-the-back-of-your-hat/ Even though frogs are endangered, one is too many for someone with ranidaphobia. And if any reptile or amphibian bothers you, you might be batrachophobic. More specifically, a bufonophobe will run away from toads (perhaps a fear of warts?) and a batrachophobe will scurry from a newt or salamander.

Wetlands are often plagued with weather conditions like fog, which would be bad for a homichlophobe. Job descriptions for wetland scientists often warn that candidates, “must be able to deal with frequent insect bites,” a definite problem for anyone with cnidophobia, a fear of stings. Many people are afraid of dragonflies because of the needle-like shape of the insect’s body; in certain cultures, dragonflies are considered good luck but in other places, they are bad signs. Most insect phobias stem from a lack of interaction with insects and misinformation. http://www.insects.org/ced2/insects_psych.html

Some people are afraid of bacteria, which are important members of a balanced ecosystem. Nonetheless, pathophobia, a fear of disease, and blennophobia, a fear of slime, would probably steer the afflicted person away from some types of wetlands, even if only based on historic misconceptions that wetlands were sources of disease. In addition some people might avoid a wetland due to pneumatophobia, a fear of spirits, or bogyphobia, trouble with the Bogeyman. In a Google search, there are no found instances of a phobia related to Swampthing, but just the opposite. People who hunt Big Foot and swamp creatures will tell you a tale of heart-thumping anticipation!http://www.bigfootencounters.com/articles/bridgewater.htm

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