The 8 Greatest Phobias Of An Average Nigerian And How To Mitigate Them

Phobia which is a persistent, irrational, and excessive fear of an object or situation may result from our past experiences, shocking news the media feed us everyday, horror nollywood and hollywood movies we watch, the type of preaching we hear in our religious places nowadays, insecurity and our individual shortcomings. From a little survey carried out by me, every Nigerian has at least one or more of these 8 phobias.
1. Harpaxophobia

This is the fear of being robbed. Many of us have developed this problem due to the high level of robbery in the society. Harpaxophobia will make you sleep with only one eye in the night especially when you keep big amount of money or something very valuable to you at home. You may begin to hear imaginary sounds of human movement. Then, when you hear a real sound of human movement your mind will conclude that armed robbers have come. You will be sweating, trembling and may even faint. Similarly, anytime you go to the bank to withdraw or deposit money, your heart beats faster than normal until you have done your transactions and gone safely. 

You can mitigate this problem by avoiding keeping huge amount of money with you. Having dogs in your house is also a good idea. In public, avoid carrying expensive phones and flashy things that will make your mind obsessed with the fear of being robbed. Avoid going to the bank or market alone. Go with trusted and grown up persons. 

2. Dystychiphobia

This is the scientific label for an excessive and irrational fear for accidents. For some victims, this fear can become so severe that it will alter their life choices significantly. I have a friend who has this phobia. Whenever he wants to make a travel, he goes to toilet more than three time because of stomach upset. He abandoned his PhD program in UNIZIK because he could not cope with the fear of traveling from his home in Owerri to Awka on weekly basis. I don't blame the guy anyway because many people have lost their lives in Nigeria as a result of preventable land and air accidents. 

Thinking of the numerous fatal accidents that happen on daily basis in our country is enough to give someone dystychiphobiaI know there are millions of Nigerians who are passing through this as well. Bad roads, bad drivers/riders and poor transport system are some of the major challenges we face in this country. Many of our drivers/riders are inexperienced, untrained and rude. 

To mitigate this, always make use of transport companies that have good reputation in road or air safety when traveling no matter the cost. Your life is more important than money. Caution your driver when overspeeding and disembark if he refuses to drive responsibly. Apply safety precautions in everything you are doing in life whether working with/around heavy equipments, driving/riding, or making love (ha ha ha just joking). Praying for safe journey before embarking on a journey can also help calm down the fear because you will have this feeling of being in God's hands. 

3. Testophobia

This is the latin name for fear of tests or exam. Many of us suffered this in school. We hated hearing these two words - exam and test. The thought of taking a test or exam will trigger a panic attack. It is easy to see students feeling sweaty, nervous and upset in exam hall especially when all their 'expos' (aka ngbo) have been collected from them. Some teachers can be so wicked that during exam/test they would space students like planets in the solar system. 

To mitigate this fear, take your studies seriously. Always read your books and don't wait till you see exam timetable before you start preparing for your exams. Don't depend on 'expo' because you may be caught and be punished. Have the mindset that even if you fail an exam/test, it is not the end of your life. You can still rewrite it some other time. Do the simple thing you are supposed to do which is nothing else apart from studying well.

4. Glossophobia

Every 3 out of 4 people have glossophobia which is the fear of public speaking. Symptoms include intense anxiety prior to or at thought of having to verbally communicate with any group, avoidance of events which focus the group's attention on individuals in attendance and physical distress like blushing, nausea, sweating, trembling, palpitations, stammering and rapid speech.

Kicking this phobia out of your life would be a great achievement for you because public speaking can be business. You need to overcome glossophobia before you can excel as a stand up comedian, politician, MC, preacher, lecturer and so on. You may be funnier than Alibaba but glossophobia has denied you the status of being a millionaire comedian and celebrity.

This is how to overcome it. Don't use alcohol, marijuana or any other drugs to boost your moral because they may make you speak off point or worst still lead you to drug addiction. Instead, practice your talk by speaking out loud. Get used to hearing your own voice. You can record your talk on tape recorder and listen for mistakes, the "em em em and ah ah ah" you use to fill in the blanks. Listen to them over and over to fine-tune the spots that needed work. Practice and rehearse well before going for public speaking. Consider joining a speaking group to help you polish your public speaking skills. 

5. Ergophobia

This is job related phobia. Those with ergophobia may fear losing a job, not being able to perform certain aspects of their job(example is meeting deadlines or giving presentations) or experience extreme anxiety with any basic task. These can manifest into actual physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, excessive sweating, dry mouth and panic attacks. The current economic hardship, unfavourable work conditions and rate at which workers are being sacked in this country are enough to make one get ergophobia.  

Always keep your CV updated. Don't stop searching for a better job until you have found your dream job. No matter where you are working now or how small your pay is, remember that it is the job that puts money in your pocket and you should therefore put in your best in the job. Learn and develop new skills that can help you do your job well. Don't forget to save. No job is secured in Nigeria, not even federal government jobs.  Also, running part time businesses as backups can save lives.

6. Virginitiphobia

This is fear of being raped. The rate of sexual harassment and rape are on the increase in our society today. I can tell the reason for the increase in robbery - economic hardship but I can't tell the reason behind the increase in rape cases. But if there was efficient implementation of Nigerian laws, the situation wouldn't have been this worse. Randy men are on the loose. We have randy teachers who rape students in their offices, armed robbers who rape their victims, fulani herdsmen who terrorise villagers and rape their women, uncles who rape little girls, and even pastors who rape their members in the name of deliverance. 

Rape is the nightmare of many Naija girls. They are even more scared of rape than physical assault or robbery. This fear usually develops at young age. This fear is especially intensified when one is walking along a dark street alone, or when one is home alone. For those with extreme phobia, they normally avoid having male friends for fear that interacting with men can get them raped. There can also be physical manifestations like palpitations, trembling, shortness of breath and other symptoms of anxiety. 

If you are afraid of rape, avoid wearing revealing clothes, mini skirts, skimpy wears and other types of cloths that can be easily removed or sexuallly provocatingg. Also, bear in mind that not all men are rapists. Rapists are fewer. Make friends with responsible men. Avoid going out alone in the night. Learn some martial arts for self defense. You may need to have some little weapons in your bag like dry pepper, pen knife or juju ( just kidding).

7. Daemonophobia

This is the fear of demons. Often, people who have this problem feel frightened by portrayals of demons in horror films, religious  texts etc. They become unduly anxious when discussing demons, when venturing alone into woods or a dark house, or when watching films about demonic possession and exorcism. Witchcraft and demonology may also be triggers for daemonophobia. People who feel prone to magical thinking will be very impressionable, and they will be prime candidates for the phobia when stories of spells, black candles, Satanism, and pentacles are told. Black magic and witchcraft can trigger daemonophobia.

Often, religious beliefs play a major role in phobias like this. The idea of hellfire, with its devil and resident demons, can be a potent trigger. Nigeria is a very religious country where almost every problem is believed to be caused by one demon or the other. In many churches around the country, deliverance from demonic possessions or exorcism is a common thing. 

Our nollywood industry is also not helping matters as they are always busy bombarding the market with their scary movies. Phobias can surface in response to images in mass media, books, and films. I could remember the movie titled "End of the Wicked". This movie scared the hell  out of me those days. What about "Akuma the Angel of Death", "Trip to Hell", "The Yoke", "Black Mass", "Occultic Destroyer", "Apostles of Lucifer", "Haunted Souls" etc. These Nigerian movies gave some of us daemonophobia. 

Panic treatment, psychotherapy, and education are the best weapons against "demons" and the fears they cause. Physical symptoms like dizziness or headaches, may be eased by treatment that gets at the root of fears and provides a catharsis. Often, talking about fears centered around these mystical creatures can create a sense of release in an afflicted person. Prayer, use of sacramentals (holy water, crucifix, anointing oil etc.) or materials believed to scare away evil spirits can also help to calm the fear. 

Moreover, letting go of religious beliefs may be one way of coping with the problem for those who trace their phobia to religion. Atheism or even agnosticism can be a way out of fears about paranormal creatures such as demons and devils. For those who trace their phobia to horror movies, it is good to avoid watching scary films and care should be taken to protect children from images they are not mature enough to process. Daemonophobia can trigger convulsions in children.

8. Fear Of Terrorists

There is no latin name for this phobia probably because it is a new phenomenon. You can suggest a name for it. But if you permit me to give it a name, I will call it bokophobia ha ha ha. 

Acts of terrorism cause death, maiming and destruction. They trigger deep fears which is the main aim of the terrorists. The thought that terrorists can strike at anytime and media coverage of terrorist acts leaves people feeling insecure and frightened. This phobia can manifest itself in different ways causing difficulties in daily life. Those in the northern part of Nigeria can relate to this. Boko Haram has wrecked havoc in borno, Adamawa, Kano, Jos, Abuja and some neighbouring towns killing over 21,000 and rendering millions of people homeless. 

Crowded public transport, being in a tall building, large public events, or seeing a bag left on its own make some of us scared for life. Some sufferers report panic attack symptoms such as headaches, lightheadedness, heart palpitations and so on when faced with triggers. 

The steps the government is taking to protect us from future acts of terrorism may soothe our anxieties. Be courageous and stay away from unsecured places or danger zones. 

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