Fear of Bananas, Strange Phobias, and How to Cure Them
Can a banana turn into a pearl handle revolver?
The strange case of my banana phobia
Even before I knew what a phobia was, I knew I had an intense dislike for bananas. They made me feel very uncomfortable. Bananas gave me the shivers. I saw them as pearl-handled revolvers pointing at me. Walking into a room with a banana in it was impossible.
I planned my whole day around avoiding bananas. I could not walk into the fruit and vegetable section of a market unless I knew ahead of time exactly where the bananas were. I panicked if I encountered a shopping cart with bananas in it unexpectedly. I had to leave the store.
I dropped my art class in college because I walked into the room one day and the professor wanted us to draw a bowl of fruit. You guessed it, there were a few bananas in the bowl. I walked straight to the admissions office and removed that class immediately. It was heart-breaking because I really loved the thought of being an artist one day.
The final straw came at work one day. I was minding my own business, feeding a specimen into a machine when a co-worker came and put her hand on my shoulder. I turned my head towards her and she had a banana in her hand! And it was right there in my face. I went screaming down the hallway trying to get away from the banana and the girl was chasing me - with the damn banana!
I could not catch my breath long enough to tell her to get away from me with that banana. I was dying and about to pass out. Another friend came along and finally got the banana away from me and I calmed down enough to go back to work. I had to make sure all the bananas were out of the lab though.
I finally decided that I would have to seek out treatment for this stupid phobia. The college I was going to had a psychology department and I went there looking for help. Fortunately for me, one of the professors was doing a study on phobias and curing them.
I enrolled in the study and learned the art of self-relaxation. The psychologist used hypnosis in our sessions to have me practice relaxing and visualizing bananas in a non-threatening way. I felt embarrassed to be a big sissy around such a wonderful fruit that I liked the taste of, but couldn't be in the same room with. It was weird and I think he may have snickered a time or two while trying to cure me.
The good news is that phobias are easy to cure. The treatment is amazing. Learning to keep yourself calm in the face of your irrational fears is so empowering. Self-relaxation is helpful in so many other ways too.
The only trick to curing a phobia is to learn to relax while visualizing your phobia. At first in non-threatening ways. Visualize the thing far away, so far that you can barely see it. After you learn to stay calm at that point, you can progress to bringing your phobia nearer in your mind's eye. Each time a panic attack begins, stop and calm yourself with relaxation techniques. Then start over. Eventually, you will be able to confront your phobia without having a panic attack.
Phobias can actually be cured in less than an hour. But it will be the hardest thing you've ever done or will ever do in your life. The technique is called dumping and I don't recommend it, but if you surround yourself with your phobia and prevent escape from it, you will have a severe panic attack, but that won't kill you and you can't sustain the panic reaction. Eventually—within an hour or so—you will calm down even though your phobic trigger is surrounding you. Your body and mind will accept that the phobia will not harm you and then you can get on with your life.
Imagine being deathly afraid of snakes and then locking yourself in a room with thousands of non-lethal snakes. The phobic thinks they will die, but in reality, they will not. Like I said, I recommend the slower treatment instead. It took less than a month to rid myself of the banana phobia by using the self-relaxation and visualization treatment. The hardest part of the treatment was to finally re-enter the fruit and vegetable section of a supermarket again. But I did it—and I am happily baking banana bread again.
Other strange phobias
So you think being scared of bananas is funny? strange? unusual? Well, there is no rationalization for any kind of phobia. The very definition means it is an irrational fear. People have phobias to all kinds of things besides the normal phobias like heights, elevators, snakes or driving over bridges.
Some recorded strange and unusual phobias include:
- The number 13 - Triskadekaphobia
- The number 666 - Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia
- The number 8 - Octophobia
- Belly buttons - Omphalophobia
- Atomic explosions - Atomosophobia
- The color white - leukophobia
- Rectal disease - Rectophobia
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of documented phobias. Some are recognized as real medical issues, most are not. Most are just a cruel trick your mind is playing on you.
No matter what triggers a phobia in a person, rest well. Phobias are curable. Unfortunately, people that are susceptible to one phobia often have recurrences of the same or different phobias. So watch out for the moon, you might get selenophobia.
Oh yes, and now, bananas are my favorite fruit.
Has it happened to you?
Have you ever suffered from a phobia?
© 2010 Lela