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Picture It: Claustrophobic


Are you claustrophobic?

When Grandma said she was buying a scooter, we thought she meant the kind that you ride on. The typical mobility scooter is similar  to an electric wheelchair.

We were surprised when Grandma asked if the kids wanted a ride in her new scooter. Didn’t she mean a ride on her scooter? When we got to the parking garage, we understood what Grandma meant. Her new scooter was more like a car! It even had its own parking spot. The kids fought over who got to have a ride with Grandma first. Everyone took a turn, except me.

Why didn’t I want a ride in Grandma’s Mr. Bean car? Well, the truth is, I’m a tad claustrophobic. In my opinion, this phobia stems from having older brothers who loved to cover my head with blankets or bury me in pillows. My brothers deny this torture to this day. Regardless of whether or not my memory serves me correctly, I don’t enjoy being in enclosed spaces. This includes showers that close tightly, elevators (I almost never take an elevator alone.), and yes, Grandma’s new scooter. I know this is an irrational fear, but I can’t help it. That is why it is called a phobia. I am also afraid of mice. Do you have an irrational fear?

Word Forms

  • claustrophobic (adjective)
  • claustrophobia (noun)

How to Describe your Fear
To describe your fear in English you can always say, “I am afraid of + (fear)” or “I have a fear of + (fear)”, for example:

  • I am afraid of spiders.
  • I have a fear of flying.

To use a word such as the ones below, you can use the adjective form or the noun form.

  • I am claustrophobic.
  • I have claustrophobia.

Other Common Phobias

  • arachnophobia: fear of spiders
  • agoraphobia: fear of leaving your home or your comfort zone
  • xenophobia: fear of foreigners or strangers
  • acrophobia: fear of heights (It is more common to say “I’m afraid of heights”.)

And here is a new one I learned today: “carcinophobia”. This is an irrational fear of cancer. If you have carcinophobia you are afraid that every pain or illness you have is a sign of cancer.

Here is an A-Z of phobias. If you look at the root of each phobia, you can learn some common words. These root words are used to make many other words with similar meanings. Can you guess what melanophobia is? Here is a hint. Think of the word melancholy.

Written by Tara Benwell for EnglishClub | December 2010
Tara Benwell is a Canadian freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry.

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