You Might Have This Obscure Phobia—and Not Even Know It

The ocean is very deep and very dark. Does that scare you?

By Morgan Cutolo

Leonardo Gonzalez/ShutterstockWhen you swim in the ocean, do you avoid going out too far in the water? Do you keep your knees close to your chest because you’re scared of the monstrous sea creatures that could be lurking right beneath you? Chances are you suffer from a very common phobia called thalassophobia. (Here’s a list of other strange phobias you didn’t know existed.)

Thalassophobia is the persistent fear of large, deep, dark bodies of water. It’s triggered by the specific stimulus of not knowing what mysteries might be right below you—but don’t confuse this phobia with aquaphobia, the fear of water itself. Thalassophobia is the actual fear of what’s hiding below the water. That could be a shark, a slimy sea creature, or just knowing how deep, vast, and dark the ocean is.

In extreme cases some people will start to shake, sweat, or vomit when they are near deep water or even just look at pictures of the vast ocean. But in most cases people who have this phobia just feel scared and nervous. (If you have this strange phobia, you can’t take a joke.)

Does this picture make you uncomfortable?

What about this one?

If you have Thalassophobia, you’re probably a little creeped out and never want to go near a body of water ever again. But to help you get over your fear, just remember that the odds of you actually getting attacked by a strange sea creature are very, very, very low. So hop right in, but maybe look down first.

Another really common fear? Flying. Here’s how to get over your fear of traveling on an airplane.


More: Conditions Psychology

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