Jul 13, 2022

New Phobias: Be Afraid…Be Very Afraid…

Here are some things to fear besides fear itself

By Ed Goldman

The new claustrophobia” is an expression writer Adam Gopnick used in a recent issue of The New Yorker to define the restlessness so many people have suffered from during our peekaboo pandemic (now we’re masking/now we’re not).

I didn’t, especially. In fact, even during the three years I underwent a number of CT (or “cat”) scans, and MRI (or “MRI”) tests—both of which required me to lie motionless in a tube and feel a bit like the refill for an old cartridge pen—I never quite succumbed to claustrophobia. Maybe my early years as one of three colossal brothers and two titanic parents jammed into a designed-for-hamsters Bronx apartment prepped me for the lack of elbow room. (In truth, all were of normal human dimensions. I just like drama.)

Edgy Cartoon

Dismay be serious

On the other hand, I began to discover later on in life that I had a mild case of agoraphobia, an unease that crops up when I find myself in open spaces, like driving down a desert highway or walking into a vacant arena. I experienced the latter when I interviewed the owner of the Sacramento Kings during the off-season in 2016. But I’m sure if the team’s record continues to be as dismal, I’ll have ample opportunities to replicate the experience, even with a game in progress.

Phobias of any kind are maddening. Your intellect tells you that. But your feet, clad in psychic running shoes, tell you, “Ready when you are, Boss!”

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Some can sound seriously weird. These would include (and all of these are real): 

  • Arachibutyrophobia, the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth;
  • Nomophobia, the fear of being without your mobile phone;
  • Plutophobia, the fear of money. Despite its sound, it’s neither the fear of a lovable Disney animated dog nor of a former full-fledged planet, which has been mercilessly downgraded by some pissy astronomers; and 
  • My fave, hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. You won’t be surprised to learn it means the fear of long words.

Except for nomophobia, I’m not sure existing phobia names adequately address these perilous times. So here are some new ones:

  • PHOEBEPHOBIA: The fear that you’re a ditzy character in a long-gone TV show (“Friends”) whenever you’re on a date with someone who begins sentences with the words, “As a scholar… .”
  • CASTROPHOBIA: A dread that the deceased, long-winded Cuban dictator will return and begin working at the Ask A Nurse help desk just when you develop possible COVID symptoms. It’s also the fear of someone placing a long-gone convertible sofa in your kitchenette.
  • MANITOBAPHOBIA: The irrational fright that Canadians will be the only ones spared from Armageddon during the End Times—and you are not remotely Canadian.
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  • DYSTOPIAPHOBIA: The increasingly common anxiety that the future depicted in the original Mad Max films will occur in real life and include the return of his portrayer, the talented actor/director/anti-Semite Mel Gibson.
  • CARDIBPHOBIA: This is the angst that creeps into your dreams in which you’re dating the popular rapper/singer and asked to rock some dance moves in the music videos promoting her albums “Gangsta Bitch Music, Volume 1”  and “Gangsta  Bitch Music, Volume 2.” (Note to the hopelessly unhip and/or people who enjoy melodies and proper spelling: These are the real titles.) Thus is not to be confused with CARDIOPHOBIA which concerns your terror that your dream was not a dream.
  • KENOSHAPHOBIA: The uneasy feeling that Wisconsin will replace Washington, DC, as the nation’s capital, and you’ll be pressured to include cheese at every meal, snack and religious ritual. It should be noted that Wisconsin is considered a “blue” state. Your fear is that it’s actually a “bleu” state and that you’ll be re-Baptized in a vat of Roquefort dressing. While getting an MRI.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).

Yes, Virginia

A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela

President, Golden Pacific Bank, a Division of SoFi Bank, Inc.

photo by Phoebe Verkouw


It’s been almost six months since SoFi, Inc., a large fintech firm, acquired Golden Pacific Bank, a small community bank headquartered in Sacramento, California—and a bank I had managed as the CEO/President for about eight years (and of which I remain President).

It’s been an interesting ride for me—and every day, a ride I face with excitement and energy as it brings new challenges and opportunities for adaptation and success.

I value SoFi Bank and the value it brings to our customer base now and will in the future. Here are some of the primary reasons why SoFi works:

  • SoFi is positioned for dominance in the future world of financial services.
  • SoFi includes an expansive fintech base, including through its acquisitions (of Galileo in 2020 and more recently Technisys).
  • SoFi’s ever-widening business lines and processes are meaningful, driving innovation at the kind of pace I’d never experienced (and find thrilling).
  • SoFi’s onsite banking allows easy financial service access to members I seldom see in a traditional bank setting—more women and more youth, specifically. But anyone with a smart phone meeting standard eligibility requirements can bank with SoFi.
  • SoFi’s online services are organized, easy and fun to use.
  • SoFi has cool, fun, energetic commercials and social media. They even have the naming rights of SoFi stadium that was the event center for this year’s Superbowl!

As a small community bank, we risked being left behind or becoming a niche player with higher stakes and regulatory scrutiny. I do admire SoFi. It’s a long-term multi-product financial services company that’s bigger and in many respects, better, than the traditional bank sector I’m used to.

But I’m quickly getting used to—and loving—it. Perhaps you guessed that.

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