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Foolish fears and frightening phobias

I used to have a phobia.

Aside from my (I like to think perfectly understandable) fear of heights, a lifetime feeling of discomfort about clowns, and a general dislike of all things creepy crawly, until I reached my early thirties, there was really only one thing which could strip away my manly facade to reveal the quivering coward beneath.

I'm not talking about your run-of-the-mill 'Ew, take that away, it's making me nervous' kind of phobia. I'm talking about the gut-dropping, hands shaking, if I don't get away from here in the next few seconds I'm gonna scream like a little girl, out and out terror, that only a fellow phobic can understand.

I am, of course, referring to balloons.

I don't know when it started, but I've always suspected it had something to do with The Prisoner (follow this link if you'd like to see the show's intro), an otherwise excellent TV show from the 1960s, starring (and I think written by) the late Patrick McGoohan. The premise was that a spy (McGoohan) tries to resign, but someone drugs him. He wakes up to find himself in The Village, a bizarre prison on a picturesque island, where all the residents are given numbers instead of names.

Now, if you've never seen the show, you're most likely wondering what this has got to do with balloons.

The answer is simple: The evil masterminds who ran The Village had a unique way of keeping the residents under control. A giant balloon, which smothered troublemakers to death, as shown in this 50-second clip.

Thanks to a psychiatrist friend of mine, who kindly gave me a free visualization session back in the nineties, I no longer turn to jelly at the sight of a balloon, but reading [info]kmarkhoover's post about the forthcoming remake brought those memories flooding back.

I'm happy to say that I'm still cured, and fully intend to watch the updated version, but I may still hide behind the sofa when the balloon comes out to play.

How about you?

What fears and phobias set your skin crawling?


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ex_naomi_ja
Oct. 3rd, 2009 03:30 pm (UTC)
Cockroaches. And we're talking, can't even watch them on TV phobic. But that pales in comparison to my other phobia...

Red onions. And this is, can't be in the same room, can't touch them, can't look at them, can't stand the smell, want to puke at the thought of eating them phobic. Oh God. I hate them so.
jongibbs
Oct. 3rd, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC)
Roaches are icky - I'm guessing Joe's Apartment isn't in your top ten movie list.

The red onions one is unusual. Do you have any idea how it started?
(no subject) - ex_naomi_ja - Oct. 3rd, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
jl_johnson
Oct. 3rd, 2009 03:30 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid of heights as well. Along with airplanes. I've never been in one, and it would take a miracle to get me in one.
jongibbs
Oct. 3rd, 2009 03:38 pm (UTC)
Lol, or drugs. That's how the guys in the A-team used to get Mr. T. to fly ;)
silverwerecat
Oct. 3rd, 2009 05:05 pm (UTC)
Sea weeds. I'm scared of them to the point I avoid going to the beach any more.
jongibbs
Oct. 3rd, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC)
I can see why they would creep someone out. Especially in the water.
(no subject) - silverwerecat - Oct. 3rd, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 3rd, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Oct. 3rd, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC)
If I'm near a steep drop, with no barrier, I feel a tremendous urge to get down on all fours. Ski-lifts are no fun for me at all.

As for snakes, I've heard it said that fear is a magnet, so maybe you were drawn to each other in a horrible way.

Thanks for sharing :)
mylefteye
Oct. 3rd, 2009 05:40 pm (UTC)
I can't stand creepy crawlies, but I wouldn't call myself phobic.

But balloons, that a new one, though I understand how you came by it. Funny how the mind can be imprinted like that, isn't it?
jongibbs
Oct. 3rd, 2009 05:47 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, and when you combine it with the clown thing, you can imagine how much fun I had at kids' parties :)
jakobdrud
Oct. 3rd, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)
I have a thing about butterflies and moths (aka huge flying hairy worms going for your throat on an unpredictable approach vector). Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs: Cool, but not scary. Butterflies fluttering around the house of the serial killer in same movie: Huge Scare! I won't call it a phobia, as I'm not numb with fear, but I may back slowly out of the room.

The balloon scare is new to me.
jongibbs
Oct. 3rd, 2009 07:55 pm (UTC)
Senior Management goes into a frenzied panic when a moth; butterfly; wasp; fly; midgie etc. is anywhere near. I guess we all have our Kryptonite.

Thanks for sharing :)
maryjdal
Oct. 3rd, 2009 07:45 pm (UTC)
Balloons no, but heights, big yes -- I once thought I could jump from the high-diving board at a public pool, but when I got to the edge I was so scared, I had to get down on my hands and knees and crawl back to the ladder. Yeah, not one of my prouder moments :)
jongibbs
Oct. 3rd, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
I don't blame you. I remember going to Wet N'Wild (I think that's what it's called) in Florida and feeling my legs turn to rubber as I climbed the steps to one of the rides.
ebenstone
Oct. 3rd, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC)
Moths....I run like a little school girl when I'm around them. I freak out big time when they are flitting around my house lights.
jongibbs
Oct. 3rd, 2009 08:03 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you and Jakob (see above) have something other than writing in common :)
dferguson
Oct. 3rd, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC)
My phobias: Heights, clowns, beaches.

And yeah, I can understand why you'd be scared of balloons after watching THE PRISONER. That balloon (The Rover) was one of the freakiest things I'd ever seen on TV and gave me a couple of nightmares as a kid.
jongibbs
Oct. 3rd, 2009 08:05 pm (UTC)
Beaches?
(no subject) - dferguson - Oct. 4th, 2009 03:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 4th, 2009 03:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dferguson - Oct. 5th, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
karen_w_newton
Oct. 3rd, 2009 10:15 pm (UTC)
Snakes. They are not logical. They have no limbs and should only be able to roll to the bottom of hills, but instead they slither along. Ugh!

I'm not afraid of heights so much as edges. I don't mind planes because I'm inside them, but standing on a ledge freaks me out.

jongibbs
Oct. 4th, 2009 12:35 pm (UTC)
I'm definitely not a snake fan. They move way to fast when they want to :(

silverton
Oct. 4th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
I'm scared of storm drains and grates in the street. Not to the point that I won't walk over them or around them, but I alway try to avoid them. I think it's because the drain in my bath when I was little would make this horrible squelching sucking sound when the drain was pulled like some diseased creature with big lips was waiting to pull me into it to eat my soul.... or something like that. My mother didn't really discourage my fear to be honest... it was a fast way to get me out the tub. Anyways, even though I know there aren't *really* drain monsters out to get me I still think.... what if I were wrong...? Doesn't hurt to avoid them just in case.
jongibbs
Oct. 4th, 2009 12:40 pm (UTC)
I guess the occasional 'monster in the sewer' movie (they seem to make one every five years or so) doesn't help :(
temporus
Oct. 4th, 2009 02:31 am (UTC)
Elevators. How's that for irony.

And seriously, how did everyone in The Village NOT walk around with long, sharp pins?
jongibbs
Oct. 4th, 2009 12:44 pm (UTC)
Elavators: Is that for the enclosed space thing, or the dangling twenty stories above the ground with the possiblity of the bottom dropping out thing?

As for the long, sharp pin theory, I've a feeling they'll address that in the remake, but I doubt it'll work :(
(no subject) - temporus - Oct. 4th, 2009 01:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 4th, 2009 01:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
ken_schneyer
Oct. 4th, 2009 02:39 am (UTC)
Ahhh, Rover. I remember him well. The victim would always try to scream while being smothered, too, and the rubber muffled the scream. Awful.
jongibbs
Oct. 4th, 2009 12:46 pm (UTC)
Aside from the Daleks (of course), that balloon was by far the scariest thing on the telly when I was a kid.

Still, I'm looking forward to seeing the remake :)
bogwitch64
Oct. 4th, 2009 04:27 am (UTC)
I just read your whole post aloud to my daughter. We're laughing our asses off. Not AT you, mind--with you. Oh...you're not laughing?? Well, then I suppose we ARE laughing at you. :)
jongibbs
Oct. 4th, 2009 12:47 pm (UTC)
And I'm always so good to you... :P
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Oct. 4th, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)
I don't think I've ever heard of that one. Maybe it comes from reading about The Luggage in some of Terry Pratchett's books ;)
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