Happily, I have never suffered from dipsophobia (the fear of drinking alcohol).  In truth, it would be fair to say that I am a dedicated dipsophiliac which, fortunately, serves to relieve me of the worst effects of stasiphobia (fear of standing) because after a prolonged session of the former I am usually quite incapable of the latter.

The point being that phobias are not necessarily all bad. A touch of agrizoophobia (fear of wild animals) can be a pretty healthy attribute when you’re half way up the Zambesi on a dark night, and when “here, pussy” and a saucer of milk might not be the most appropriate response to the ferocious, fanged feline that has just crawled out of the undergrowth.  And, closer to home, a touch of pentheraphobia (fear of Mother-in-law) can be guaranteed to induce an attack of dipsophilia sufficiently serious to require immediate recourse to the local hostelry where certain medicines are available without prescription.  Incidentally, next time you find yourself doing a ‘Linford’ across a field, closely pursued by three tons of snorting bovine malevolence, don’t worry. You’ll just be suffering a slight attack of taurophobia and it will pass away. Probably the moment you do.

Of course, not all phobias are a good thing. There’s the fear of amnesia, for example, but I’m afraid I can’t remember what that one’s called. And there’s pogonophobia (fear of beards).  All babies suffer from this as I discover anew every time my own be-fungussed phizog, thrust beneath the hood of a pram, is greeted with screams of terror.   There’s ablutophobia (fear of washing) which affects all boys under the age of thirteen and at least one adult in every carriage on the London Underground.

A particularly distressing condition must be tremophobia (fear of trembling), an attack of which, given that fear makes one tremble, is likely, one would imagine, to last for some considerable time.  There’s theophobia which is ‘fear of God’, but after the Biblical entreaty, “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God,” (Deuteronomy 6:13) perhaps theophobia is no more than an appropriate qualification for Holy Orders.  Then there’s gamophobia (fear of marriage), a common condition which mainly affects men of a certain age, and coitophobia (fear of sexual intercourse) - ditto.

But there is good news on the phobia front. One hitherto common phobia, primeisodophobia, has been all but eradicated from the Western culture and consigned to the dustbin of history.    (fear of losing one’s virginity)

A small afterthought:  The ‘spell-checker’ on my computer identifies all mis-spelt words.  It queried every one of the  phobias I listed when preparing this piece.   But then, it has an American dictionary.