Writing About Characters With Phobias


It is a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it. The word phobia comes from the Greek, Phóbos, meaning ‘fear’ or ‘morbid fear’.

Common symptoms associated with phobias include:

  • Dizziness
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea
  • A sense of unreality
  • Fear of dying

Most phobias are classified into three categories. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), these phobias are considered to be sub-types of anxiety disorder.

The Three Types of Phobias

  1. Social phobias—fear of social situations.
  2. Agoraphobia—fear of being trapped in an inescapable place or situation.
  3. Specific phobias—fear of a specific object. There are four major types of specific phobias: the natural environment, animals, medical, situational.

Phobias vary in severity. Some people can simply avoid the subject of their fear and suffer relatively mild anxiety over that fear. Others suffer full-fledged panic attacks with all the associated disabling symptoms. Most individuals understand that they are suffering from an irrational fear, but are powerless to override their panic reaction.

All of this could provide you with a source of conflict as a writer. Nevertheless, it is important to do adequate research before you write about it.

I thought I would add this list of phobias associated with literature for fun.

Three Fun Fictional Phobias

  1. Kinemortophobia – Fear of Zombies
  2. Sanguivoriphobia – Fear of Vampires
  3. Lycanthrophobia – Fear of Werewolves

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© Amanda Patterson

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This article has 3 comments

  1. valerie

    this post is really interesting. i recently looked into arachnophobia and agoraphobia for a book i’m working on. so true to do your research. 🙂

  2. Khaoula

    my character has a fear of darkness !!

  3. Klary Coffey

    This website is GOLD. I’m currently drafting my characters and I stumbled upon another link, with a shortcut to this website. These help so much in making characters unique and different, not “Mary Sues”, if you know what I mean. Thank you!

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