October has arrived, and Halloween lurks just around the bend, sparking the appearance of a slough of spooky sights. From zombies to vampires and from ghosts to skeletons, the traditional symbols of the season represent only a few icons of fear. For many people, a plethora of unusual phobias haunt their psyche; seemingly harmless ideas and objects may trigger intense feelings of terror. In this edition of The StickerTalk, get ready for some spine-tingling specters lurking in the plain sight.

Alektorophobia refers to the fear of chickens. Research shows that individuals reared in rural settings are more likely to develop this irrational anxiety. Psychologists have also found that people who have reported negative experiences with these backyard birds tend to show symptoms of alektorophobia. Signs that you may have this phobia include feeling panic at the mere thought of a chicken and making conscious efforts to avoid chickens. One woman even claimed that the very sight of dishes containing chicken aggravated her alektorophobia. Clinicians combating this fear often employ exposure therapy to gradually acclimate a patient to the presence of chickens.

Nomophobia is triggered by the absence of cellular devices or cellular service. A relatively new phobia, one study suggests that nearly half of cell phone users suffer from nomophobia. The panic induced by a low smart phone battery, failing cell signals, or a lost device is frequently described as unexpectedly intense with some comparing it to the anxiety of a dental visit. Experts recommend a reduction of screen time to negate this crippling phobia.

Koumpounophobia is the fear of buttons. Although technically a phobia, koumpounophobia is characterized by feelings of disgust instead of fear. Many people living with this phobia attribute their discomfort to the various textures of buttons, especially those made of plastic. However, fear may be invoked when individuals believe the buttons harbor germs or may cause choking if accidentally inhaled. Perhaps the most well-known koumpounophobic was Steve Jobs. Jobs credited his products’ sleek and largely button-free designs to this uncommon phobia.

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