I have heard it said many times that "everyone has a phobia", an irrational, overwhelming fear of something. Phobias can be anywhere from mildly inconvenient to completely debilitating.

Common phobias include:

  • fear of spiders
  • fear of snakes
  • fear of flying
  • fear of public speaking
  • thinking clowns are really, really, creepy

Uncommon phobias include

  • Amathophobia- Fear of dust.
  • Euphobia- Fear of hearing good news.

An extensive list of other phobias found here.

An internet search or walk through almost any bookstore will show you that there is certainly no shortage of available books, videos, self-help programs and therapies aimed at helping people overcome their phobias, whatever they may be.

While phobias are obviously quite common,

Has it ever been proven that literally everyone has a phobia?

Have there been any studies done on rate or prevalence?

  • 8
    I don't know if everyone has a phobia, but it seems like there is a phobia for everything. "Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth" or "Fear of teenagers"? Okay, the second one I can understand ;)
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Apr 30, 2011 at 22:26
  • 3
    From Wikipedia: "It is possible for an individual to develop a phobia over virtually anything". I think the point here is the distinction between fear and phobia. Phobia is a medical condition that requires treatment, one can be afraid of spiders, but a phobic person would have a full panic attack seeing one. If you ever witnessed a panic attack you would know there a BIG distinction.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Apr 30, 2011 at 23:22
  • @sklivvz you are correct,and I thought I might run into a problem with the wording because there is a large difference between what the term means in a clinical setting and how it is commonly used.We see the same sort of thing when discussing what the word "theory" means in a scientific context vs its common usage.Also the concept of a phobia is a spectrum, much as you described,ranging in severity from simple fear to a debilitating medical condition.I will edit to clarify that I intended a more colloquial use of the term phobia.Something more along the lines of Indiana Jones and snakes.. Commented Apr 30, 2011 at 23:56
  • 2
    I think it would be impossible to prove that everybody has a phobia. I find it highly unlikely that everybody does have a phobia. If you take a logical approach to fear, then anything that may cause harm to you or others would be a legitimate fear and not a phobia (as long as it is not feared to a debilitating extent), I'm afraid of bombs, that's a regular fear. I would say that I do not have any phobias, I tend to take a logical view of fear an assess what could actually happen, and then decide whether to "fear" something and stay away from it, or to carry on in whatever I was doing. There ar
    – YupHio
    Commented May 1, 2011 at 19:02
  • 1
    I don't think it is possible to prove that literally everyone has a phobia, as that would require examination of every single person on the planet. How would you asses if a newborn baby, 10 minutes old, has a phobia or not?
    – fred
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 15:26

1 Answer 1


The National Institute of Mental Health (USA) has some statistics:

Specific Phobia

Specific phobia involves marked and persistent fear and avoidance of a specific object or situation. This type of phobia includes, but is not limited to, the fear of heights, spiders, and flying.

Among Adults

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Among Children

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Social Phobia

Social phobia is characterized by a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and feeling embarrassed or humiliated by their actions. This fear may be so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other activities and may negatively affect the person’s ability to form relationships.

Among Adults

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Among Children

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These statistics are based on a survey done in the United States, with a sample of 10,000 respondents.

There have been similar surveys done worldwide under the auspices of the World Health Organization, but I don't have that data.

  • 2
    the definition you cited is the same one I was going by when I wrote the question, however, I failed to take into account that the subjective nature of the perception of fear would make the question very difficult to address. Thank you for answering the question with more clarity than that which I posed it. Commented May 4, 2011 at 20:52
  • 2
    3D bar graphs are STUPID! Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 16:08

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