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Celebrity Phobias: Arachnophobia & More

By Yona Williams    1/27/10

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When it comes to phobias, animals and insects play an important role. From the creepy, crawly eights legs of spiders to the pecking of chickens, many people are fearful of members of the animal kingdom, as seen in this article, which also mentions the interesting phobia shared by Johnny Depp and a few other celebrities.

Arachnophobia

Arachnophobia is one of the more known of phobias and even has a movie centered on the fear of spiders. Celebrities admitting to this phobia include actor Johnny Depp, actress Wendy Richard, musician Justin Timberlake, and tennis player Andre Agassi.

Coulrophobia

Johnny Depp has also been linked to a fear of clowns (Coulrophobia), where he once told reporters, "Something about the painted face, the fake smile…there always seemed to be a darkness lurking just under the surface, a potential for real evil." Daniel Radcliffe and Sean "Diddy" Combs also share this phobia with Depp. Usually, this type of fear relates to an incident that has taken place during childhood.

Entomophobia

When it comes to filming a movie in the great outdoors, how does film director Steven Spielberg handle the pressure with his fear of insects? This fear was also shared by historical figure, Queen Christina of Sweden – a monarch from the 17th century. She actually had a miniature cannon measuring four inches that allowed her to spend time firing tiny cannonballs at the fleas she spied in her bedroom. Nicole Kidman is said to be fearful of butterflies.

Alektorophobia

They may seem harmless, but actress Shannon Elizabeth (of American Pie fame) has admitted to having an extreme fear of chickens. The actress is especially fearful of their claws and beak. Typically, the fear does not involve a phobia of cooked chickens, but generally applies to live specimens. A person suffering from this phobia may fear they will be attacked by chickens or avoid farms because they do not want to come in contact with a chicken.

Bacillophobia

A dusty table and people coughing in their presence are just some of the things that can set off a person with bacillophobia – the fear of germs. Some people have been so extreme with the phobia that they keep stepping outside of their room or home because they don’t want to come in contact with the germs of other people. Others resort to obsessive cleaning habits.

An extreme example of bacillophobia is seen in the lengths that the secret police under Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's rule went to keep him happy. The dictator and his wife went on staged 'walkabouts' where they would shake the hands of a few people and kiss their small children. Volunteers were selected for this activity and were actually locked up for weeks to undergo routine disinfections so that they would be germ-free for the 'special' day.

The straight-arm fascist salute that Benito Mussolini adopted was a direct response to his fear of shaking hands with people. The actress Marlene Dietrich held an obsession with germs that earned her the nickname of "the Queen of Ajax."

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