Wandering barefoot and crumpling pieces of unneeded paper are daily occurrences that hardly cross our minds. But for seniors Jeana Lutz and Tori Perry, however, these actions are intensely stressful and a cause for panic.
“I am horribly afraid of feet,” Lutz said, “ I’m not afraid of my own, just other peoples’.”
She remembers realizing this fear on a trip to Miami.
“A couple of years ago, I went to the beach with a friend,” she said, “He had his feet close to my face and I almost cried.”
Psychology teacher Jim Pustay says such irrational fear should be addressed.
“Fear is essentially anxiety, and it can come from different sources, from an experience to a movie or story,” Pustay said. “If it goes unchecked and continues to escalate, the fear can rule your life.”
Perry cannot remember what sparked her phobia of crumbled tissues, napkins and paper, but when she comes into contact with them, she relies on others to help.
“I think it’s an OCD thing,” Perry said, “but if I see it, someone has to remove it from my sight immediately, otherwise I’ll freak out.”
Eighth-grade student Claire Rauchfuss deals with her own personal phobia on a regular basis at home with her family and friends.
“It stinks when someone comes over for the first time and I have to be like ‘Oh by the way, don’t sit on my bed,” she said.
Rauchfuss fears unclean people or things touching her sleeping space.
“I guess that I think if my bed is dirty I will get sick or smell bad or have bad hygiene,” she said.
Claire’s older sister, Julia, a senior, understands her sister’s fear, but is not always sympathetic.
“My brother and I mess with her by putting our cat on her bed and taking a picture of him on it,” Julia said “We’ll show it to her later and she’ll scream and run to check her bed even if the picture is a few days old.”
Fears we don’t come into contact with often can have the biggest effects. Senior Jacob Daniel, for example, is afraid of vertically challenged people.
“When I was seven, my sister had a friend who was a midget and I thought it would be funny to steal her hat and run with it,” Daniel said. “She tackled me and stole her hat back and left me on the ground trembling [in] fear.”
Daniel’s fear affects his life in indirect ways.
“Kids remind me of them, so I also hate kids,” he said.
Though these various people have quite different fears, all say that keeping a safe distance from what they fear is the best way to cope
But Pustay disagrees.
“To deal with your fear you need to recognize it and change your behavior,” Pustay said.