6 Phobias

He who fears he shall suffer, already suffers whathe fears.

—Michael de Montaigne,The Essays of Michael de Montaigne, 1588

Fear is good. It keeps you from questionable decisions, like surfing on the roof of your drunken friend’s jeep or sending a letter to the IRS stating: “Oh yeah? And who’s gonna make me?” But phobias, by definition, are not only fears, they are irrational fears. They have no basis in reality.

Let me explain. I have no hard feelings toward slimy things, but I would prefer not to snuggle up with an amphibian on a cold, rainy night, if I can help it. I’m guessing that’s pretty normal. But not Linda. She has a condition called batrachophobia—a fear of frogs—that is so debilitating, it influences every decision from where ...

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