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Article - 'Flaws and Interests: Phobia's' by Phaerii

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Jun 27, 2004

Blurb

Phaerii takes us into the medical side of character development in stories/RPGs: phobia's! This article is geared to help people develop their characters by giving them some realistic fears.

Body

Flaws and Interests: Phobia's!
By Phaerii

’Allo ’Allo!
Phaerii’s first article, yay! And obviously the title explains all. First part of a series to inspire interesting games and storylines.

As every gamer should know, a character, to receive the most empathy, should have flaws. It is in these flaws that we can see a part of ourselves and define likeness in them, or in that part we see as "me".
One such flaw is a phobia. In some way, I am being harsh and generalizing by calling a phobia a flaw. Most fears are just small things pour example:

A Fear:
She waltzed into the bathroom whistling happily, and wiped the mirror with a towel. As she delicately began her daily facial process something caught her eye. Just behind the door, under the hook for a hand-towel, was a giant black spider the size of her hand. She screamed whilst racing out of the bathroom and slammed the door.

Although this might seem rather harsh for a mere fear, a phobia is far worse. Often people mistake “phobia” as another word for fear. They are wrong.

A Phobia:
She waltzed into the bathroom whistling happily, and wiped the mirror with a towel. As she delicately began her daily facial process something caught her eye. Just behind the door, under the hook for a hand-towel, was a giant black spider the size of her hand. And icy feeling filled her whole body, she was rooted in terror, the creature nimbly dropped to the floor and crawled toward her. She screamed, ran out of the bathroom and locked the door, then she continued screaming and ran out of the house, only stopping by the pavement outside.
Next day she called a team of pest exterminators and a team of cleaners for her bathroom and had nightmares afterwards.

As you can see, people with a proper fully-fledged phobia often exaggerate the situation and can even get headaches and nightmares and other unpleasant symptoms as a result of accidentally meeting what they are scared of. However, voluntarily confronting a phobia is less dramatic, because the person has chosen the scenario and is often in control of it.
Paranoia can often result from
a) meeting a phobia often
b) many phobias

Some phobias are entirely irrational, but can be traced to early ages and are formed by way of an accident or unpleasant experience.
Why not give your “hero” a phobia? But remember to think beyond that and ask:

a) Why does he/she have the phobia?
b) What happens to he/she if they meet the source of their phobia?
c) Does he/she want to overcome the phobia (or is the hero too scared)?
d) To what degree is he/she scared of* their phobia?

* There are several forms, but I don’t know all, on the severity of a phobia. Since I don’t claim to know the technical or medical terms I put these in my own words:
Obsessive- The person will be constantly thinking of their phobia, and very little will distract them. Indeed there are even different levels of obsession. At the extreme end of the spectrum the person can be paranoid.
Partial Reasoning- This person will realise their phobia, and maybe even why, they will come to terms with the fact they are scared. But a partial reasoning person also understands that some things are more important than their extreme fear.
Fear- A person with a fear, is scared of spiders/snakes etc, but can (with perhaps a little difficulty) overcome their fear for a while if other people are in danger, or if it creates an obstacle in daily life.

The Children’s Hospital in Boston describes a phobia as:
A phobia is an identifiable and persistent fear that is excessive or unreasonable and is triggered by the presence or anticipation of a specific object or situation. Children and adolescents with one or more phobias consistently experience anxiety when exposed to the specific object or situation. Common phobias include fear of animals, blood, heights, closed spaces, or flying. In children and adolescents, the identified fear must last at least six months to be considered a phobia rather than a transient fear.

And adds to this with a list of symptoms:
ï‚· increased heart rate
ï‚· sweating
ï‚· trembling or shaking
ï‚· shortness of breath
ï‚· feeling of choking
ï‚· chest pain or discomfort
ï‚· upset stomach
ï‚· feeling dizzy or faint
ï‚· fear of losing control or going crazy
ï‚· fear of dying
ï‚· numbness
ï‚· chills or hot flashes

Finally, I’ll stop blathering and give you gamers the phobias:

Achluophobia/Lygophobia/Nyctophobia/Scotophobia - Fear of darkness

Acrophobia/Altophobia - Fear of heights

Agateophobia/Dementophobia/Maniaphobia - Fear of insanity

Agrizoophobia - Fear of wild animals

Alektorophobia - Fear of chickens (Alektorophobia + Harvest Moon = Lots of laughs and feathered chaos)

Allodoxaphobia - Fear of opinions (aka noobs – not NEWBIES)

Ancraophobia/Anemophobia - Fear of wind.

Angrophobia - Fear of anger or of becoming angry (You could say The Hulk, had angrophobia)

Anthrophobia - Fear of flowers

Atephobia - Fear of ruin or ruins

Atychiphobia - Fear of failure (Could be an interesting one…)

Bathophobia - Fear of depth

Bogyphobia - Fear of bogies or the bogeyman (No comment)

Bromidrosiphobia - Fear of body odours

Catoptrophobia - Fear of mirrors

Chionophobia - Fear of snow

Coulrophobia - Fear of clowns

Dutchphobia - Fear of the Dutch

Ereuthrophobia - Fear of the colour red (and associations with it, such as traffic lights)

Gerascophobia - Fear of growing old (This could be motivation for a character)

Hypsiphobia - Fear of height

Ichthyophobia - Fear of fish

Maniaphobia - Fear of going insane

Metallophobia - Fear of metal

Nyctohylophobia - Fear of dark, wooded areas

Pagophobia - Fear of frost and/or ice

Panophobia/Pantophobia - Fear of everything

Phengophobia - Fear of daylight or sunshine

Siderophobia - Fear of stars

Somniphobia - Fear of sleep

Spectrophobia - Fear of mirrors

Xanthophobia - Fear of the colour yellow (and the word)

Xylophobia - Fear of wooden objects or fear of forests

Zeusophobia - Fear of God

That’s all folks!
Phaerii

Ps- Would like to dedicate this to ATARI, who really does rock.