Fear Factor

Singapore may seem like a pretty safe city to live in; but not if you suffer from any kind of phobia. While all phobias are irrational by definition, we turned up a few that must make day to day life pretty tough. Yes, even here. After all, with all the foreign talent we’ve been employing of late; god help you if you’re xenophobic (afriad of foreigners or an unfamiliar culture). And with Halloween now upon us, those suffering from samhainophobia (fear of, you guessed it, Halloween) are in for one hell of a hellish weekend. We take a look at some of the worst phobias to have in Singapore, and the worst places that you might find yourself in. We’re not here to scare you, though. Honest.
Samhainophobia—Fear of Halloween
Oh yes, what better way to celebrate this weekend than by bringing up one of the weirdest phobias of all. Halloween is big business here (see Halloween Parties on the next page), and all samhainophobics would be well advised to stay at home. That said, if you happen to know one, they’d make a great addition to any theme party, since the look of fear on their face would be the most genuine in the room. Anything closely related to the festival will get them going: Cats, witches, ghosts, spiders, the dark, you name it, all will make phobics experience the likes of breathlessness, excessive sweating, heart palpitations, an inability to speak or think clearly, a sensation of detachment from reality (sounds like a regular night out, no?) or a full blown anxiety attack. That’s way scarier than what places like Zouk, Zirca, St James and Stereolab have planned!
Claustophobia—Fear of confined spaces
Naturally, in a country this small, there are many claustrophobic places around Singapore (malls, HDB lifts and certain bars on a Friday night all spring to mind) but it’s public transport that tops our list. The morning and evening peak hours on buses or the MRT are a definite no-no for anyone who fears confined spaces—and if you’re not already claustrophobic, trying to make a journey between 8-9am or 6-7pm may well turn you into one. Sundays and public holidays, particularly within the vicinity of Little India, Orchard Road and Sentosa, are arguably even worse. Take our advice and start saving for a cab now.

Chorophobia—Fear of dancing
So you think you can dance? Chorophobics don’t want to know. Singapore’s nightlife and music scene may be bustling with international and local acts offering all kinds of music—from trance to Latin to house and rock. Chorophobics, though, would do well to avoid places like Zouk for its staple of electronic acts or TAB’s live offerings, as their dancefloors are always grooving. If ever you are out partying and notice someone standing frozen still in the middle of a dancefloor, you now know why. Either that or they suffer from melophobia, a fear or hatred of music, in which case you have our permission to ignore them for ever more.
Cibophobia—Fear of food
Even more than dancing, eating is one of Singaporeans’ favorite pastimes (we even gripe with our neighbors over who invented our favorite dishes). Yet for those suffering for cibophobia, food is indeed a hard thing to stomach. Individuals suffering from this particular fear are commonly mistaken to be anorexic. The difference lies in the latter fearing the effects of food while the former fear food itself. Cibophobics perceive food as possessing above average risks and will question the expiry date of perishable goods, how well cooked their meat is, and will refuse to eat seafood if it didn’t come directly from the sea and onto their plates. Established restaurants might be patient with such enquiries but hard-ass local vendors at Lau Pa Sat or Newton Hawker centre won’t be too accommodating. This might be a great dining topic with your family and friends but for deipnophobics (those afraid of dining or dinner conversations), we guess not.
Acrophobia—Fear of heights
One of the most common fears, acrophobics hate the feeling of getting high (in the vertical sense) and would do anything to avoid such places. If you are thinking about dating an acrophobic, forget about romantic sky dining on Singapore’s famed Jewel Cable Car Ride or the Full Butler Sky Dining on the Singapore Flyer—that’ll be the first and last time you’ll ever see them or your arm (though, depending on how tightly they were clinging on to it, you might think that’s no bad thing). And before you trade looking down on the city for looking up at the vast night sky and its twinkling canvas, better check your partner’s not astrophobic (afraid of stars or celestial space).
Vestiphobia—Fear of clothing
Next time someone tells you they had the pants scared off them, ask if they’re vestiphobic. These poor people are usually seen in loose, oversized clothes and, if given a choice, would wear nothing at all. Sadly, there’s no nudist beaches here, and even being naked in your own home can get you in trouble. Of all the places you’re least likely to find them, the Great Singapore Sale at places like ION Orchard or Tangs is probably number one. If they do make it down, they’re likely to want to get in and out as quickly as possible. If you spot them cutting the queue, just wave a T shirt at them; that ought to do it.
Cyberphobia—Fear of computers or technology
If words like “broadband,” “cyberspace” and “Facebook” make you uneasy, you might be suffering for cyberphobia. (Or, more likely, just bored of your friends’ tech-heavy conversations.) These phobics feel threatened by the rapid proliferation of on-line information resources, new computer programs, and other technological advance’s. Singapore is hardly a safe haven for them; the whole country is broadband connected and everything from paying your bills to public transport fees and movie ticketing is tech-enabled. If you find out a friend suffers from this phobia, just don’t ask them to Google for remedies.

Chromatophobia—Fear of colors
While erythrophobics fear the color red, xanthophobics yellow and leukophobics white, chromatophobics are the most extreme of the lot, fearing all colors. This restricts their movement to a dark room or, if they are adventurous enough, to carefully planned trips wearing heavy-duty shades. The Orchard Road shopping belt comes alive with colorful art installations and lights—making it a chromatophobic’s kryptonite. Take them to watch a black and white film at the National Museum instead.
Automatonophobia—Fear of anything that falsely represents a sentient being
So some people claim Singaporeans are all a little too robotic, but this is another thing altogether. Theme park Universal Studios Singapore at Resorts World Sentosa boasts a variety of world class entertainment for the young and old, but not for the automatonophobic. For those fearing anthing that falsely represents a human or an animal, Shrek and his talking donkey friend are living, breathing nightmares. Taking a boat ride with the live-animated figures of Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria from the loveable cartoon Madagascar should be avoided, too.
Aviophobia—Fear of flying
There’s nowhere to run for most phobics except to seek consultation and treatment; but aviophobics are out of luck if that means flying overseas. The symptoms of this fear of flying can also be attributed to a combination of other phobias, like fear of heights and enclosed spaces. Aviophobics in Singapore are limited to exotic destinations like Batam or Bintan for their holidays (and there’s no such thing as frequent ferry miles). The adventurous few could though drive up to Malaysia and onto further destinations like Thailand, China or Bhutan (where they could settle down and never need to fly again in a country said to be the happiest in the world).
Philophobia—Fear of falling in love or being in love
When you get scared, you just want to jump into the arms of someone you love. But for philophobics, this isn’t always easy. Like most phobias, the fear of falling in love or being in love is commonly attributed to a traumatic and unpleasant experience in an individual’s past (though haven’t we all been there?). But there’s hope: Local dating agency It’s Just Lunch offers dating and matchmaking services, and who knows, if they meet the right person, in a non-intimidating, no-pressure setting, philophobics might be able to step out of their hermit kingdom and enjoy a life of romance and unending bliss. A more dangerous character to run into at a matchmaking seminar is an anuptaphobic, someone who fears staying single. Better stay far, far away from them.
Ergophobia—Fear of work
Another social phobia related to performance anxiety, ergophobics just refuse to clock in. Their fear of failing on a given task or socializing with colleagues is often mistaken for straightforward laziness or ill-disguised unfriendliness (seems like a good excuse to us!). it might also be confused with work aversion, where individuals are just turned off by working or being employed altogether.
Xenophobia—Fear of foreigners or an unfamiliar culture
Travelling isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for xenophonics because of their deep-rooted antipathy towards foreigners. Theirs is an unreasonable fear or hatred of the unfamiliar, especially people of other races. And that could prove to be quite a challenge living in multi-cultural Singapore (if nothing else, imagine all the ethnic food they’ll miss out!). The racial mix here only gets more diverse as foreign talent heads to our shores. Singapore might just be the very last place in the world a xenophobic would want to be in.
Halloween Parties
Top 10 Weirdest Phobias
All Dressed Up