Select one of the keywords
Scared Stiff: Everything You Need to Know About 50 Famous Phobias    by Sara Latta order for
Scared Stiff
by Sara Latta
Order:  USA  Can
Zest, 2014 (2014)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Everyone has a hidden fear. Perhaps it is being confined in a closed space like a closet, having to speak before a large group, or maybe the thought of getting a shot sends chills up your spine. When a fear of something becomes extreme it is called a phobia and can alter a person's life.

In Scared Stiff: Everything You Need to Know About 50 Famous Phobias, Sara Latta looks at a variety of phobias. The National Institute of Mental Health reported in 2012 that over six million Americans have been diagnosed with some type of phobia. That doesn't take into account the tens of thousands of individuals who have phobias but haven't sought help in dealing with them. Obviously the actual phobia count is therefore much higher than the statistics suggest.

Before focusing on the individual phobias that are addressed in this book, Latta looks at fear in general. After discussing the part of the brain, the amygdalae, which triggers a warning to beware of something, the author touches upon the physical symptoms of anxiety and the four basic categories many phobias fit into.

Once the short introduction to the topic is concluded it is time to hone in on specific phobias. 'You'll learn about each phobia (including the sometimes baffling origin of their names), as well as how and why it develops and how it has been represented (and sometimes distorted) by pop culture,' writes Latta.

She also provides 'some advice about how to overcome these phobias and where to seek additional help', so this more than just a book with interesting facts about phobias.

Most people are familiar with some of the common phobias such as the fear of heights, various animals, flying, darkness, fire and thunderstorms. These are all addressed in the book as well as some of the more exotic phobias like the fear of public/open space, clowns, buttons, crossing bridges, mirrors, and beards.

The contents of each chapter not only cover the basics outlined above by the author but also some unusual information as well. For example, the pediophonia (fear of dolls) section contains a sidebar on a totally creepy island that exists in the southern part of Mexico City. Dedicated to old dolls, the Isla de las Muencas features hundreds of battered, decaying and rather filthy dolls or their parts that are hanging from trees or arranged in other odd ways around the site. An outing to this bizarre tourist attraction might give anyone nightmares!

Farther along in the book you'll also learn that Gertrude of Nivelles, a seventh century abbess, is the patron saint of musophobes (those afraid of mice or rats). Ironically, she's also the patron saint of cats!

Although this illustrated book is aimed at readers 12 years of age and older it works equally well with adults. The author's approach is a bit lighter than it might be if this was intended for just an older audience.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Teens books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews