You know how a lot of women's magazines have "new trend" alerts? Well here's a new phobia alert! There's a slew of scientists, shrinks and sociologists over at the International Society for Humor Studies contemplating gelotophobia, the fear of being laughed at. (Yeah, it's a slow news day for all of us.) According to CBS News, "A typical gelotophobe could hear a stranger's laugh and think it is aimed at him. In an extreme case this could provoke breaking out in a sweat, heart palpitations, trembling or simply freezing up." In some countries, up to 30% of people suffer from some form of gelotophobia, and while this entire piece sounds like a one person trend story, I can sort of relate.
I have gelotophobia but only around large groups of teenagers. I have a deeply paranoid fear of those large, roving groups of 15 -year-olds sitting insouciantly on the stoop of the high school across the street from my apartment. I try not to make eye contact for fear that they will make fun of something on my person, and seriously, teenagers can smell the fear! I suspect this goes back to being an actual teenager, and seeing others like my former self triggers those latent insecurities. Am I alone in my post-adolescent neurosis? Or are there others out there who fear the giggling wrath of the masses?
Gelotophobia, No Laughing Matter [CBS News]