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Book Review: Scared Stiff, Everything you need to know about 50 famous phobias by Sara Latta

Crowds. I don’t like being in a crowded place where people are pressed together wall to wall and you look around and think, if this place catches on fire there is no way I can get out. I always want to make sure there is a solid exit strategy. Apparently, this is claustrophobia which is not just a fear of tight, confined spaces, but a fear of no escape.

Have you read Coraline by Neil Gaiman? It taps into an interesting fear called Koumpounophobia: the fear of buttons (page 96).

And today’s current zombie craze? A possible product of Kinemortophobia: a fear of zombies. Interestingly enough, people aren’t so much afraid of being eaten by zombies (not high on my list), but of being turned in to a zombie (even lower on my list). And although there seems to be no such thing as zombies, there really are zombie ants. These ants are taken over by a fungus (page 92).

I imagine a lot of people have the newer phobia Nomophobia, a fear of being out of mobile phone contact. If you feel anxiety when you have to turn off your phone or get jittery or headaches if you’re separated from your phone, you may have this (page 113). My cell phone dies all the time and I’m okay so I’m pretty sure that this one isn’t an issue for me.

My daughter refused to read Doll Bones by Holly Black because she thought the cover was too scary – she may have Pediophobia: a fear of dolls.

Scared Stiff is a look at 50 Famous Phobias, from the fear of different types of animals (including cats, dogs, mice, pigs, snakes and birds) to the fear of clowns (which Stephen King did nothing to help with his book It, also Johnny Depp has this fear). A phobia is an extreme fear and can have dramatic impact on how a person lives their life. There are literally hundreds of types of phobias out there and they are a source of interest for many readers, which will make Scared Stiff a very popular title.

Like most Zest titles, this is a quick, interesting read. It’s organized alphabetically by fear and gives some basic information, including the word origin, examples of the fear, and some quotes about the fear.

Although the topic is interesting, it can also be quite serious because phobias are very real and can have very dramatic impacts on people’s lives, which is why they include an appendix on overcoming one’s fears. It is noted that social phobias and more general anxiety disorders usually require professional help to overcome. There is a brief overview of some of the techniques that a therapist might use to help a person learn to manage their phobias. Scared Stiff manages to be informative and fun to read while giving thoughtful recognition to the impact that a phobia can have on a person’s life. Elizabeth McMahon, Ph.D. is noted as a contributor and it seems her input was used to make sure the information was both accurate and respectful.

And thankfully, there is an index. I am a geek who loves a good index.

I highly recommend this book. It’s the type of nonfiction title that is browseable and of interest not just for school reports.

Scared Stiff: Everything you Need to Know About 50 Famous Phobias by Sara Latta. Zest Books, 2013. ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2.