Greetings and Salutations. It is about time I formally introduced myself. I am the notorious Dr.Phobias. As my moniker would dictate, my specialty is fear. I will be posting regularly on different phobias, but I would like to start with the basics and discuss the relations and differences between phobia (fear), mania (obsession), and philia (attraction). For as different as they are, they have a similar root. I find it fascinating that where one person is terrified, the next would be overjoyed, and the third individual would be ecstatic or even aroused.
For this essay I will use “snake” (ophis) as my root. Snakes are taboo in some cultures. They are shown as monstrous sea serpents or the Devil disguising himself as a snake to trick Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. In our culture snakes typically play the role of villains. From snakes on a plane, to Anaconda, to even the Jungle Book’s Kaa with his wicked powers of hypnosis, snakes are viewed as a negative force. However, other cultures revere the snake, use it as a status symbol, think of it as a protector, or even worship one as a god.
The next person we encounter has Ophidiomania (Obsessed with snakes) and is very happy to see their scaly friend slithering about. This is where you run into snake enthusiasts, people who have snakes for pets, and yes even some people with snakeskin boots. The Mayans worshiped the feathered snake god Quetzalcoatl. They referred to him as the god of light, mercy, and wind. Some believe that on some very rare occasions they would see the aurora borealis and thought it was the snake god flying across the sky. This was considered a sign of good fortune.
While these three categories describe an individual’s relationship with snakes, there will obviously be variations within categories and the physical and psychological effects they are experiencing. Like our friends Doctor Jones and Salma Hayek, someone with Ophidiophobia can range from mildly uncomfortable to panic-stricken. Someone with Ophidiomania may have a snake tattoo or worship one as a god. And someone with Ophidiophilia can range from getting slightly aroused to having a libido explosion.
The human psyche is incredible isn’t it?