After having Bananophobia for over 20 years Eirill Dalan has tracked down other KU students with strange phobias you didn't know existed.
Cotton candy crisis
Caitlin Higgins, 20, a finance and accounting student, suffers from bambakomallophobia: the phobia of raw cotton and candy floss.
“I’ve had this phobia since I was about four, and my brother used to chase me around with raw cotton,” Caitlin, whose name has been changed, says.
“It became a problem if I ever had to touch or use it in art or anything school-related.
“One time we had a project at school, and they brought out a huge roll of cotton wool for us to use. I screamed and went hysterical.”
However, this isn’t the only incident where Caitlin has struggled with her fear.
“Someone brought some candy floss onto the school bus, and I literally got off and left the bus in the middle of nowhere,” she says.
Caitlin’s phobia is so bad that she can’t even see a photo or the words “cotton wool” or “candy floss” without becoming hysterical.
“My mum witnessed me having a meltdown once, and told me not to be stupid,” Caitlin says.
“But later on she realised that my phobia is actually extremely traumatic for me. I know it can’t harm me, but quite frankly the thought of it terrifies me.”
‘The holes really creep me out!’
Olivia Hazzard, 21, used to suffer from hylophobia, a tree phobia.
“I think my phobia of trees came from horror movies,” she says.
“One in particular was the scene in Evil Dead where a woman was raped by a tree.”
As a child, Olivia would cross or walk in the middle of roads to avoid trees, but she managed to overcome this.
“I was forced to hug a tree for an activity on a school trip, and then I realised they are not harmful.”
However, despite overcoming this, Olivia still suffers from another phobia, trypophobia the phobia of objects with small holes.
“I guess everyone has a weird phobia. I have a phobia of crumpets, or in general objects with small holes. All the holes just really creep me out,” she says.
“I have never dared to look at a picture of a crumpet, and I don’t like sponges either.”
‘Don't touch my knees!’
Adelina Ibishi, 20, has a phobia of being touched on her knees, called haphephobia.
“I get really paranoid when someone touches my knees,” she says.
“All my life I have had weak ligaments, but it’s only my knees that I worry about being touched. It makes me really dizzy and I lose balance.”
Adelina was able to let her ex-boyfriend touch her knees, but now cannot allow anyone to.
“If someone tries to tell me something and they are leaning over to touch my knees, I get really uncomfortable and tell people to please stop them before they touch my knees,” she says.
“It’s more a psychological thing than physcial thing I guess or a mix. It is super annoying but it doesn’t affect my daily life.”
‘Statues can't hurt me’
Journalism student Natalie Marsh, 21, has a fear of life-like statues, officially named automatonophobia.
“My phobia is of statues that are bigger than life-size, and of a person or an animal,” she says. “I can’t deal with the ones that are larger than life-size.
“One time I had to pass underneath a really huge statue of a Native American soldier to get into a nightclub. I was so petrified that I had to walk in with my eyes closed.
“I think I could get rid of my phobia. I have to face the fact that they’re statues, and they can’t actually hurt me,” Natalie says.
“This Halloween there was a Frankenstein statue which was seven metres high at a party and I freaked out. I had to walk out of the room so it wasn’t visible anymore.”
Sheri Jacobson, a psychotherapist and clinical director of Harley Therapy, spoke to The River about the most successful treatments for those with phobias to undergo.
“Pyschotherapy and exposure therapy are the two most helpful ways,” she said.
“The first focuses on the causes of the phobia, examines the trigger, and helps to develop coping strategies to prevent a phobia from interrupting your daily life.
“Exposure therapy involves the person being gradually exposed to the feared object until their fear is tolerable.”
Jacobson recommends going to see your GP if you are suffering from an extreme phobia as they can refer you to a therapist for treatment.
“Be kind to yourself – it’s hard enough living with a phobia, let alone beating yourself up for having it!” she said.
“Finally, have hope. Phobias have a high success rate in treatment. A phobia is an extreme form of fear, that arises when confronted with a particular stimuli or situation.”