Fear is that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach or the back of the mind that makes people stop in their tracks, but it can be so much more. Fear is an entirely natural reaction to a perceived threat. Humans and countless other species of animals all experience fear at one time or another. Fear can haunt people in nightmares and throughout their days. Some people embrace fear and look for a thrill from a movie, a book or an amusement park ride. However, some fears are so deep and so persistent that they can cripple individuals and prevent them from living their lives fully.

In the mental health field, counselors devote much of their practices attempting to treat deep-set fears while researchers continue to study the nature of fear and its effects on the human mind. Anxiety disorders, phobic disorders and associated conditions can affect people in many different ways and can stem from cultural ideas as well as individual experiences.

Fear can stem from real experiences or from within an individual’s mind. Some frightening events can affect people for years or suddenly overwhelm an individual years later, sometimes becoming Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Fears can also manifest themselves into fears of specific objects, sometimes with no relationship to their actual experience. Phobias can take many forms even if they do not seem rational. Overall, fear is not something an individual has to live with under any circumstance.

As Halloween approaches, in that spirit, consider these 13 mind-boggling and bone-chilling fears from the Science Zone:

1. Coimetrophobia is the fear of cemeteries.
2. Ailurophobia is the fear of cats.
3. Odontophobia is the fear of dentists.
4. Scolionophobia is the fear of attending school.
5. Herpetophobia is the fear of reptiles.
6. Frigophobia is the fear of the cold.
7. Phasmophobia is the fear of ghosts and spirits.
8. Aerophobia is the fear of flying.
9. Categelophobia is the fear of being ridiculed.
10. Iophobia is the fear of poisons.
11. Rupophobia is the fear of dirt.
12. Agyrophobia is the fear of crossing the street.
13. Triskadekaphobia is the fear of the number 13.

— Dr. Bridges is a professor of history and geography living in Arkansas. He can be contacted at drkenbridges@gmail.com.