Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

I’ve got your number (Numerophobia)

Math6 copyEver since I was a kid, I’ve had a fear of numbers and I don’t just dislike them either. I actually get queasy when forced to deal with mathematical objects. The medical term for a phobia of numbers is called numerophobia and translates to: “a morbid fear of numbers.”  Morbid?!  It makes me think, they say that most people would “rather die than speak in front of a group of people” and while I’m one of the weird ones who actually relishes the thought of using words to address an auditorium filled with people, I would rather not have to deal with numbers in front of anyone (not a single solitary person) ever in my life if I didn’t have to. But, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’d rather die than do so.  Hurl, toss my cookies, upchuck, pavement pizza… maybe.  But, not die.  So, my fear of numbers doesn’t quite add up to numerophobia, as far as the medical community is concerned.

In order to be labeled a phobia, the fear would have to escalate from breathlessness, dizziness and nausea to an absolute panic attack requiring intervention or medication. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, phobias affect approximately 10% of adults and can affect people of any age, sex, and socioeconomic status.

There are quite a few phobias in the world that make sense to people, even though the term phobia is classified as an “irrational” fear.  If you’ve ever met someone who tells you they are afraid of heights, snakes or spiders, you might consider them to be pretty reasonable people – because those are awfully logical things to be troubled by, in the grand scheme of things. Among the top 10 phobias rated by psychologists, are a fear of dogs, injections, flying and thunder & lightning and, if you think about it, even those aren’t considered too unusual because you can understand how a person might be anxious about those things, right?  Honestly, a lack of bravery when it comes to stuff that is sharp, loud or potentially fatal just sounds pretty doggone smart to me.

My fear of numbers mostly just makes people roll their eyes or sigh in exasperation when they see how riled up I get around integers.  I realize it seems silly, but it is a problem that stems from long ago and far away.  Fear and phobia typically develops through negative experiences and observation and for me, I can pinpoint a horribly painful event in my childhood that directly led to my fear of numbers.

In short, a very bad man did a very bad thing to me when I was young and it was during the time I was learning my multiplication tables in elementary school.  To reinforce my memorization of “times tables” (as we called them back then) I was also encouraged by a teacher I loved and adored, to revisit my addition and subtraction flashcards from the year before. Then, one dark night during a physically and psychologically traumatic event, I curled up and traveled deep into my soul, going where my beloved teacher told me to – to the numbers. After that initial incident and the subsequent abuse that followed, I returned to the hypnotic rhythm of the numbers in order to get as far away as I could away from the physical and into the mental.  At the time, it made perfect sense to go to a place of order and reason during chaos, but over the years the numbers have jumbled into a different kind of turmoil and madness for me.

While it all adds up, it doesn’t make sense and while I’ve dealt with the emotional aspects of my history, I’ve never managed to solve the problem of my numerical deficits.

Researchers have found that behavioral and cognitive therapy are the most effective methods employed to help with fear and phobia – but revisiting integers, at any level (even on a day-to-day basis, like making sure my change is correct from the kid at Starbucks), brings up such unpleasantness that I have a hard time imagining entering into a conditioning program that would subject me to systematic exposure to the mathematical symbols that simply symbolize pain to me.  But, what’s that they say? The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem…

I just wish it were a word problem.  That, I can usually solve.

xo – t.

If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is.”  ~John Louis von Neumann

Black holes result from God dividing the universe by zero.”  ~Author Unknown

Go down deep enough into anything and you will find mathematics.”  ~Dean Schlicter

Arachnophobia – fear of spiders

Ophidiophobia – fear of snakes

Acrophobia – fear of heights

Cynophobia – fear of dogs

Trypanophobia – fear of injections

Astraphobia – fear of thunder & lightning

Pteromerhanophobia – fear of flying

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