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Work, buttons & clowns: The UK's strangest phobias revealed

A NATION OF PHOBIAS: People in the UK are scared of everything from clowns and spiders to blood and buttons

ONLY LAST week new jobs data showed that more and more Brits are in work, and yet one of the stranger phobias Brits have been treated for – especially those employed in the City of London – is ‘ergophobia’, or the fear of working.

UK-wide Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) clinic, Dynamic You, deals with different fears every day of the week and today revealed the five strangest, and five most common, phobias affecting the patients it has treated since it opened its doors two years ago.

Five strangest phobias Brits have presented with:

1) Work phobia: Especially common in the City of London, ‘ergophobia’ is a deep and persistent fear of work. Sufferers often have a combination of fears, such as a fear of failing at assigned tasks, getting fired, speaking before groups, or socialising with co-workers. Not to be confused with laziness.

2) Vegetable phobia: People getting anxious at the thought of vegetables is a phobia that Dynamic You has treated on a number of occasions. One patient’s fear was focused on long green vegetables, namely cucumbers and marrows. The fear is of the vegetable itself rather than purely the act of eating it.

3) Clown phobia: This is a bigger fear than people would imagine. Interestingly, certain circuses travelling around the country don’t have clowns for this very reason. Two circuses that Brits may be familiar with — Chaplin’s Circus and Circus Wonderland — are not only clown-free, but even run clown exposure courses.

4) Button phobia: Dynamic You has treated a patient suffering from a very rare disorder of buttons. Koumpounophobia is the technical name for this phobia and the patient they treated could only wear clothes with zips. This phobia is often linked to a fear of holes.

5) Urination phobia: This is not a fear of the act of urinating but of being caught short. While one of the more sensitive phobias people present with, it is also quite common and can have a big impact on people's lives, as they may restrict fluid intake, which can lead to health problems.

And the five most common phobias Brits present with:

1) Vomit phobia: Also known as emetophobia, the fear of vomiting is surprisingly common. The phobia can include a fear seeing other people vomit, but others are afraid of vomiting themselves.

2) Height phobia: Many sufferers are unable to cross bridges or, if they have to, often do so with their eyes closed. One sufferer turned down a promotion because it meant moving to a higher floor in their office.

3) Social phobia: Now called Social Anxiety Disorder, this is one of the most common anxiety problems, but also one of the most under-treated - the average time before people seek treatment is around 10 years. It's related to anxiety in social situations due to a fear of negative judgment by others.

4) Animal phobia: Also known as zoophobia, this is one of the phobias many people will be aware of, especially in the case of spiders - arachnophobia - and snakes - ophidiophobia -, both of which have been the basis of movies. In the dog-loving UK, cynophobia - the fear of dogs - is especially common.

5) Blood-injury-needle phobia: This is a unique phobia as it’s usually the only one which can cause a sufferer to biologically pass out. People with this phobia will often faint at the sight of blood, at the anticipation of receiving an injection or of somehow being injured.

Alex Hedger, clinical director of CBT specialists, Dynamic You, commented: “Phobias are the most common type of anxiety disorder, with an estimated 10 million people in the UK — roughly one in six of us — suffering from them.

“While some of them can seem quite amusing, phobias can be debilitating and sufferers will often organise their life around avoiding the object of their anxiety. For them, their phobia is no laughing matter at all and people should always be sensitive."

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