In 2008 Blink182 drummer Travis Barker was involved in a horrific plane crash in South Carolina that claimed the lives of four people and two of his best friends. Since the crash Barker refuses to fly anywhere, which has obviously been detrimental to the success of his band. He relies solely on ocean liners to take him to international locations. The plane crash had a lasting effect on Barker and instilled in him a crippling phobia of planes and flying. His fear is so bad that he says he’s also passed it onto his children. This fear of flying is known as aviophobia and it affects 6.5% of Americans. Statistics vary but it’s estimated that 40% of Americans have some degree of anxiety about flying. It’s somehow comforting to know that celebrities have common, everyday fears like the rest of us. If Travis Barker, a successful millionaire, and general badass covered in tattoos is scared of flying then it’s ok for me to be afraid of flying. That’s the general idea anyway. When celebrities do something human it normalizes them and makes us feel like they are real people with real life problems, hopes, and fears.
When celebrities discuss their phobias it helps shed light on a typically uncomfortable topic. Phobias aren’t rational, they’re completely mentally related problems that we invent and we feel crazy for being scared of flying, or spiders, or even going outside. The following celebrities have come forward to shed some light on their own fears and let people know that it’s ok to be scared but it’s also necessary to get help to overcome your fears.
David Beckham: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Pictured: David Beckham suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Soccer star David Beckham suffers from OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He told Esquire magazine, “I’ve got this obsessive compulsive disorder where I have to have everything in a straight line or everything has to be in pairs. I’ll put my Pepsi cans in the fridge and if there’s one too many then I’ll put it in another cupboard somewhere.” The disorder is characterized by intrusive thoughts that create worry, fear, apprehension and anxiety and are only relieved by repetitive behaviors (such as excessive hand washing or counting.) OCD can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral therapy, or medications. There is a negative stigma associated with OCD and many individuals do not seek treatment because of their fear of being ridiculed or judged which is why it is so important that David Beckham came forward about his own struggles with the disorder.
Johnny Depp: Clowns
Pictured: Johnny Depp can’t stand clowns.
Coulrophobia, or fear of clowns, is a recently coined term that stems from the Uncanny valley theory. This theory states that when human features look and move almost, but not exactly like natural human beings is causes revulsion in certain human observers. A clown, for example, has a human body, walks and talks like a human, but its facial features are exaggerated and over expressive while still looking frozen. It creates an uneasy feeling in some children and many adults. Johnny Depp has said of his fear: “Something about the painted face, the fake smile. There always seemed to be a darkness lurking just under the surface, a potential for real evil.” This phobia is best treated with cognitive behavioral therapy. FYI, I too, suffer from coulrophobia because I accidentally watched Killer Klowns from Outer Space as a small child.
Oprah Winfrey: Gum
Pictured: Oprah Winfrey hates chewing gum.
The mighty Oprah isn’t afraid of much, but there’s one thing that truly terrifies her: chewing gum. It’s a phobia that affects few people but it still gets its own name: chiclephobia. Chiclephobia isn’t a fear about stepping in gum, or hearing people chew gum, it’s a fear based on the fact that chewing gum is actually really, really, nasty. It’s a wad of sticky chewable glue in your mouth that captures every disease and speck of food and bacteria and you just chew, and chew, and chew on it. Wow, maybe I have chiclephobia? Oprah’s phobia stems from childhood (like most phobias)—her grandmother would chew gum and save it for later by sticking it under tables, under chairs, or onto her dinner plate. Oprah hates gum so much she banned it in her office. Fresh breath isn’t an issue for the Mighty O.
Christina Ricci: Plants
Pictured: Christina Ricci is terrified of house plants.
Christina Ricci suffers from a fear of houseplants, otherwise known as botanophobia. It’s not as uncommon as you think. Lots of people suffer from botanophobia because they fear that plants are consuming too much of the Earth’s oxygen supply. Christina Ricci’s fear is that household plants are too dirty and she says she can’t be around them because they creep her out. Think that’s weird? Sigmund Freud had a bad case of pteridophobia, which is a morbid fear of ferns—I wonder if that fear stems from his love for his mother….