I don’t suffer from herpetophobia or batrachophobia. Other reptiles are fine, as are amphibians. I’ve fed marshmallows to crocodiles on swamp tours and they can be really quite cute – when you are safely out of the water. The frogs, toads and newts that share my garden are greeted respectfully when our paths cross. Each spring I scoop up the little froglets and rescue them when they wander into danger. Arachnophobia sufferers have my sympathies, but spiders give me no cause for concern. I have a mild doze of trypophobia, but I may only have developed it since it became trendy, you could probably pick a hole in any claim I make for it. I rationalise my nomophobia by insisting that I am so needed by others that there really has to be a way they can get in touch. I'm mildly claustrophobic, but I've managed the Channel Tunnel - just don't ask me to go into a limestone cave again.
But the snake thing is real and is accompanied by a phenomena I still cannot name. Is there a word for this concept, or must we invent one? It goes like this:
If you told me there was a snake in the next room, I would have to take a look because I know whatever my imagination invents will always be much more hideous than the real thing. If I’m flicking channels on the TV I’ll stay with the snake until I’m sure its I not going to coil right out of the screen and hiss at me. Those horrible wooden jointed toys that move in a realistically snake like fashion terrify me more than the real thing. In zoos, I have to peer into those glass cases until I see the coils. If I can’t find the anaconda, cobra or whatever, I am looking for it all around me all the way to the car park. I've encountered adders on the moor and they seemed surprisingly OK, basking asleep in the sunshine or slithering quickly away into the bracken. I held a corn snake once at an animal handling class cos I knew if I didn’t the kids wouldn’t either. It was surprisingly warm, dry and pleasant to hold.
My point is that the idea of the snake is much worse than the thing itself and this concept spreads much wider than discreet phobias. At the moment it is affecting my hospital visiting. I don’t want to go; I am afraid of what I’ll find, but I am drawn to visit nevertheless because my imagination will always paint a much more dreadful image.
How about invisibiliaphobia (fear of the unseen) or fantasiaphobia ( fear of the imagination)? Or do you have a better suggestion?