Monday 1 July 2019


I am sure I may have mentioned several times that I have a friend who is a psychiatrist. He is a well educated man who attended the best privately paid schools and University. At University he majored in Media Studies, Acting and the Arts but failed miserably. So he changed to Psychiatry instead where they gave him a Degree because it was a lean year and not many people passed their exams.

His father was very rich having made a fortune as a Cheese Grater. He made and grated cheese to be spread on pizzas. He often claimed that he descended from a long line of cheese graters and longed for his son to follow in his footsteps; but sadly he failed and went into psychiatry. He claimed that his distant forefathers were there at the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus said, "Happy are the cheese graters!"

Anyway ... back to my friend the psychiatrist ... Have you noticed how when you're telling a tale your mind tends to wonder from one subject to another? Sometimes my mind wonders so fast that I can hardly catch up with it. I get tired so easily ... in fact, as we get older we get tired very easily and what was once a simple thing to do it is now a big mountain to climb. Oh ... to be able to climb again ... to be able to get up, and stand on that chair, and clean on top of the cupboard.

Men get tired more easily than women, you know. Women have a lot of energy and get on with life with no complaints. Men get tired with age ... especially when they are asked to do things by their wives that they no longer have the energy to do ... and the wives insist on it ... again ... and again ... eventually they summon every once of energy they have in their bodies and take out the trash once again.

So ... what was I saying until my mind wondered  ... again. Oh yes ... my friend the psychiatrist. Well, he is running a group session about phobias ... people who have various fears. And he asked me to attend as a control group member. He wanted me there in the discussion to bring in the ordinary man's point of view. And they don't come more ordinary than me, folks!

Now, a phobia is described as "an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something". Note the word irrational. So if you fear snakes for instance, that is not a phobia, since a snake could do you a lot of harm if it bit you. Or spiders even. Some spiders are poisonous, and this leads some people to fear all spiders. Is that irrational? Or is it acceptable? And is it a phobia? Obviously, some phobias are serious and should and can be treated by specialists. Phobia of flying for instance. Or fear of the outdoors, or indoors and so on.

Anyway ... last week I attended the group therapy session. There were five people in all including me. The psychiatrist sat in a corner and asked us to introduce ourselves and talk about our fears and concerns. He said he will not take part in the discussion but sit there listening, (and making notes).

So in discussion, there was this man who had a phobia of the underneath of ships and boats. He said he dreaded having to be underneath a ship. He explained that under ships and boats there are usually barnacles. They attach themselves there and he feared they would attack him. Also he feared the propellers under ships and boats.

I asked him if his job entailed being under ships and boats. He said no ... he was a judge and he worried about waking up and finding himself in a boat yard. I suggested that this is hardly likely. He said, "Well you never know ... strange things do happen sometimes".

Apparently he visited a boat yard years ago when he was a child with his father who was a mechanic and there were boats there out of water standing on scaffolding ready to be painted. Some had barnacles still attached to them. Propellers too.

I explained that this was an experience which happened long ago and it must have subconsciously affected him. There is no danger now of him being under a boat.

Sadly, at this point someone moved a chair and it made a sound as it slid on the floor. The man jumped and screamed thinking it was a ship entering the room.

We quickly changed the subject and discussed a woman in her forties who had a phobia of pickled gherkins. She thought they originated from outer space and were here to kill us all. She could not accept that they are a vegetable that had been put in brine or vinegar.

The psychiatrist produced a large jar of pickled dill gherkins and placed it on the table - not underneath it.

We stared at it for a few minutes saying nothing. Then in an attempt to prove they were harmless I opened the jar, picked up a gherkin and ate it. I offered her one. She refused, so I ate that one too. And another ... and another ... until the jar was empty. That's when I had a terrible pain in my stomach and had to get out of the room.

She is now even more convinced that gherkins are dangerous and will kill us.

When I returned to the room the fourth person, a man of about thirty, was discussing his phobia of being talked about behind his back. Whenever he goes somewhere he thinks people are talking about him. At work, in the pub, in the shops, wherever there are two or more people together he thinks they are discussing him behind his back. Even when he watches a game of football on TV and the players all huddle together and a ball is thrown amongst them; he thinks they are talking about him.

I left the group for a moment and asked my psychiatrist friend quietly whether this is an actual serious phobia, and the man said, "there see ... they are talking about me!"

In order to calm him down I asked the man sitting next to him what is his great fear. He said he feared going to sleep. I sympathised with him and asked him whether he feared never waking up again, dying in his sleep. He replied, " I wish ... it's worse than that. You know how some people talk in their sleep?"

I nodded.

"And others even sing in their sleep?" he continued.

I nodded again.

"Well ..." he said, "I play my bagpipes in my sleep. I get up, pick up my bagpipes, and walk up and down on the bed playing several marching tunes!"

I imagined his poor wife lying in bed having a naked piper walking all over her. I asked him, "What does your wife think of this?"

He replied, "Oh, she joins me on the drums ..."

I'll leave you with this image on your mind !!!
At this point the session was ended; "our hour is up" said my psychiatrist friend and they all left, hopefully to return to another session next week.

My friend suggested I don't attend. I don't know why!


  1. All I can say is that groups of people with phobias should never get together and try to get rid of them. I love my phobias and I don't want to get rid of them. They are my phobias. I grew up with them. They have been in my family for generations. Some are very valuable now.

    You are very funny this morning Victor...thank you for the laughs. BTW...when is the next meeting. If there aren't any barnacles there I may attend. But if I can't make it don't let them talk about me 💮

    God Bless ✝

    1. I suppose we can live with our phobias if they are minor and they do not affect us to adversely. I had no phobias until that meeting. Now I have a phobia of being in a group with people who have phobias. I also have a fear of psychiatrists, ships, boats, barnacles, gherkins, people whispering, sleeping, and most of all of naked people playing the bag pipes.

      That session seems to have created havoc in my life. I went to another psychiatrist to cure me of my fear of psychiatrists. He dressed up as a pumpkin and tried to eat me. Now I have a morbid fear of pumpkins too. I fear Halloween as well.

      God bless you, Jan.

  2. Great minds! Believe it or don't … I've a post on the back warmer about irrational fears. Of course, you've written this far better than I might ever hope to do.

    BTW, methinks 'ordinary' is a many splendored thing. :)

    1. I look forward to your post on irrational fears, Mevely. I bet it will be good, as all your posts. Yes, ordinary can be good ... at times! I hope I fit the description.

      God bless you, Mevely.

  3. I would be afraid of attending the next meeting. :)

    1. Of course I'm afraid, Bill. I shall not attend any more in case their fears are catching and I end up fearing all the things they fear.

      God bless.

  4. "Blessed are the cheese graters . . ." Lol, Victor! Your vivid imagination has really gone wild in this post, my friend. Well done!

    1. Sometimes my imagination runs so fast I have trouble catching up with it. I am not as fast and fit as I used to be. My thoughts started on psychiatry then moved on to education and eventually to phobias. I wonder what I will think of next?

      God bless you, Martha. Glad I made you smile.

  5. Some strange fears those people have.

    1. Indeed Happyone. Phobias can be irrational at times.

      God bless.



God bless you.