Before her dementia, my mother loved to try the writing exercises I created for my students. Here is one of our favorites.
There are hundreds of phobias. Some are very familiar: Aerophobia (the fear of flying); Claustrophobia (the fear of being in tightly enclosed spaces); and one of the most common ~ Glossophobia (the fear of speaking in public).
For my classes, the assignment was to understand fears and incorporate them in the personalities of characters. I wrote out dozens of phobias (and their meanings) on slips of paper. Students drew a slip, and in one page they were to create a character suffering from that fear…and also create the event that made the character afraid. My mom loved this activity because it didn’t stop with the WHAT, but also attempted to understand the WHY. She was the kind of mother, teacher, friend, CASA volunteer and ally of children who believed that if people could identify both the WHAT and the WHY of their problems and worries, they had a very good chance of also finding a solution.
My mom was an avid learner who enjoyed new facts and ideas, and the phobias I selected were uncommon. Here are some examples: Achluophobia (fear of darkness); Chorophobia (fear of dancing); Aulophobia (fear of flutes), Allodoxaphobia (fear of opinions); Arachibutyrophobia (fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth); and with apologies to my friends across the ocean, Anglophobia (fear of England and/or English culture). Other phobias are illustrated on the pictures above and below.
Since Mom is deep in dementia now, I share these phobias with all of you. Have some fun with them, creating a possible WHAT and WHY for one… and maybe a solution as well. March 26th is “Make Up Your Own Holiday,” and you never know: you might create a Freedom from A Phobia Holiday. Don’t be afraid to give it a try!