Submechanophobia: The fear of underwater man-made objects

My Submechanophobia

When I was a little kid, my mom would always read National Geographic magazine. She’d leave them open on the couch or on the counter and I’d flip through the pictures and read segments that interested me. I remember doing just that one time, and flipping open a two page picture of the sunken Titanic’s massive bow. I cringed and dropped the magazine. I covered my eyes with one hand and tried to close the magazine with the other.


I’ve always known that I have an irrational fear of water, sometimes to the point of being afraid in swimming pools, but my fear is more complex and specific than your run-of-the mill fear of water. I suffer from a phobia called submechanophobia which is that fear of “partially or fully submerged man-made objects” according to google.


Nowadays we’ve come up with names for phobias of almost everything. Some are so ridiculous and rare that it seems unnecessary to categorize them as phobias. Like anothophobia; the fear of flowers, phobophobia; the fear of developing a phobia, and arachibutyrophobia; the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth. Submechanophobia may appear just as obscure a phobia as that of sticky peanut butter, but it might be more common than you think.


There are a few phobias that are interconnected with submechanophobia. There’s thalassophobia which is simply the fear of the ocean, many people suffer from this fear for obvious reasons. The ocean is a big, dark, mysterious place full of predators. Which brings me to another related phobia called megalohydrothalassophobia, or the fear of large objects under water. This phobia is also understandable because large animals underwater can often be dangerous, such as sharks and killer whales.


The strange thing about submechanophobia is that very rarely is there any real danger associated with submerged man-made objects. Sunken ships seem to be the subject of most submechanophobic’s fears but the same kind of anxiety can arise from seeing even small man-made objects under water like pieces of rope or trash. Even photographs of pieces of metal under water can casue anxiety. If you search ‘submechanophobia’ on google you’ll find seemingly endless accounts of people’s specific fears and experiences (as well as pictures of ships and submarines that would make my guts churn). I was surprised to find so much information online. I had thought that it was a coincidence that I have a few friends who suffer from the same phobia as me, but now I think that submechanophobia is actually more common than I once thought.


I’ve always been a little apprehensive about snorkelling and diving because I know that I have an irrational fear. Having an anxiety attack in the water can be dangerous so I generally play it safe and avoid these situations, but a few months ago in Indonesia I decided to challenge myself by going snorkelling with a friend. I was charmed by all of the interesting life that can be seen just below the surface of the water. I had fun and was calm until I came across a tangle of metal just a meter and a half long and about the same distance from the surface of the water. I stood up out of the water on a large rock and began hyperventilating and holding back tears. My friend helped me to calm down and gain my courage to put my mask back on and look at the metal once again. When I looked at it for the second time it still made me uneasy, but I could recognize my fear as irrational and see the object for what it was; just an old piece of metal

How to deal with Submechanophobia

If you struggle with Submechanophobia or any other phobia, try taking baby steps towards feeling comfortable with facing what scares you. When you see a picture of a ship wreck, try to relax and look at the photo until your anxiety subsides. If you come across a piece of concrete, or metal, or rope under the water, try going a little closer to it than you’re comfortable with. Don’t push yourself to the point of a panic attack, but challenge yourself a little bit because you may find that it’s not as bad as you thought.


Leave a comment about your worst Submechanophobia moment and how you deal with your Submechanophobia so maybe we can help each other 🙂

Also if you liked this article you should read about
Submechanophobia how to deal with it (No pictures)

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19 thoughts on “Submechanophobia: The fear of underwater man-made objects

  1. Wally Reply

    It’s difficult to locate well-informed folks on this matter,
    but you seem like you understand what you’re talking about!

  2. Stevie Reply

    “Hi! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to give it a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Superb blog and great design and style.”

  3. Hannah Reply

    Super glad this isn’t something I’m going through alone! isn’t it strange how we fear something so silly? Submarines are my biggest fear here – the thought of one under the sea while I’m swimming or even one surfacing makes me itch and I get all hot and clammy! I’ve tried looking on other sites about this, and they have photos that I really can’t bring myself to look at. If I was stranded in the sea and had the choice to either swim alone or hold on to a large floating object, then I’d happily NOT do the latter…!
    I had a nightmare once that I was swimming in the ocean, and I could see myself from a birds eye view – and this huge killer whale appear underneath where I was swimming… it wasn’t attacking or threatening, it was just the shape of it underneath me, it was horrendous!

  4. M Reply

    Great post! I really never had any idea this was a thing until tonight! I thought I had to have one of the most ridiculous fears… the sudden sight of a manmade object underwater in cloudy water that is any deeper than maybe 4 feet, is enough to make my heart start racing and my eyes to roll back a little… Submarines and ships dont really bother me and looking at pictures of shipwrecks in clear water is fascinating to me, as long as they cant be seen from the surface. But I grew up around a large shallow lake (11-12 meters at its deepest point) in Canada (Wabamun Lake) and we used to use all kinds of things to anchor rafts and boats, blocks of concrete with hooks, cinder blocks, old engine blocks from cars etc. Over time the ropes would break or the anchor would get stuck in the sand and be forgotten. The one that scared me the most was two large concrete rings that were chained together just beyond where I could touch the bottom. When we were kids, we would swim all around the area where our piers were or float on inner tubes and I have quite a few memories of peacefully floating and nearly falling off the tube at the sight of some large hunk of metal that was just barely visible (the water in prairie lakes is kind of blueish green!) The worst was falling while waterskiing close to the piers and rafts, where you couldnt quite touch but could see the outlines of rocks and occasionally other things down there, or even while coming up to the raft and looking at the chain going down to its anchor, that scared the hell out of me for some reason too. And since if you leave anything anchored over winter the ice destroys it we had to basically search the murky depths for the anchor chain and try to lift it up with a hook every year which gave me the chills when just looking for it nevermind when I actually came across it. I’d say childhood fears got carried over into adulthood because even though I’m aware old anchors on the bottom of the lake and chains that disappear into the depths cant hurt me they still give me the creeps!

    • S.M. Reply

      I’m from Spruce Grove and have this fear as well! Such a small world!

  5. Chloë Dolores Reply

    Thanks for all of your stories and comments! You’re not alone, this is a very real phobia. If you’re interested in more about my personal experience with this phobia check out my blog post called ‘The Komodo Boat Trip (Facing Fears)’ by scrolling down from the top:

    Keep facing your fears!!


  6. gladifoundthis Reply

    Mine is only with big objects, just thinking about makes me feel bad, but not small objects.

  7. Jesco Reply

    I’ve had this since the first encounter with a bouy. I was 5 years old in a small rubberboat with my father. I asked him what the object was and why it was there. He explained it to me and asked me if i wanted to go to it. I wasn’t afraid yet or nervous. So we got closer until i completely freaked out and hyperventilated. My father backed away from it and we got to shore. The second encounter was when i was 16 years old. I was on vacation in Turkey, a place called Turunç there was this hotel called Serena Suites. As i saw the swimming i was like hell yeah! I jumped in it, as i opened my eyes underwater i saw very big and real metal porthole windows on the wall. I instantly freaked out again and what not. Trough those windows you could see the restaurant wich was pretty nice. But not for me. The third on a dock when i was 19 years old. As a private security contracter i was patrolling at a dock to prevent against copperthieves. As i walked on the docks at night and turned to the right with my maglight aiming at a ship like only a jump away distance and looked down i saw this massive huge Golf/ice breaker on the front partly submerged. I had the panic again and got as far away as possible. When i read all about this and look at pictures i have the same feeling but not as much as in real life. I wish i could defeat this phobia. But when i even think of facing my fear to defeat it, even in slow steps i think i would never be able to do achive this. Not even if they would somehow remove the part of my brain that actually does this to me.

  8. Dea Reply

    Growing up seaside I would always take seaside walks with my parents at night (summer obviously).My parents would walk on water and make me do that too.I used to get anxiety from the ropes which connect the little fishing ships with the ground. Now that I’m grown up I still get anxiety attacks from anything that has to do with underwater for example ships (especially ships endings),metals,rocks,ropes,plants and other lost objects like glasses or even necklaces. Once I saw a shark movie and afterwards my dad took me at the gaming park seaside I remember as if it was happening now that I couldn’t even look at the sea or hear the waves sound.

  9. Clare Reply

    I also have a fear of dark man made things. There was a storm in Cambridge and the river rose high. It had pushed a massive rubbish clearance barge down and it had turned and blocked the river. It was dark when I came upon it and could not bring myself to walk past it. I was terrified. I can’t even play computer games like TombRaider when there are deep swimming bits in it with large doors below. I literally feel massive anxiety even though I knew it could not harm me. Its a game for the love of God. So glad to know Im not alone x

  10. Bobby Reply

    My fear comes from an 80’s Danish childrens movie called “Samson og Sally” about two young sperm whales fleeing whale hunters, oil spilling and killer whales.
    At one point they get stuck in the wreck of a steeled cruise liner and almost suffocated. That scene ruined me completely and now I can even see a key under water without panicking. It’s gotten better thanks to watching a lot of documentaries about shipwrecks but I’m still far from where I want to be.

    Thank you for this information. It’s helped me a lot <3

  11. Karen Reply

    I have always been AFRAID of submarines, they are my biggest fear of all times. The other day I was visiting San Diego with my family and we were walking at the Navy Pier, boats cause me troubles too but I can handle it, I had no idea though that there was also a submarine there, all black and old halfway out of the water, I cannot explain what I felt but it affected my breathing and I just had to walk away ASAP. Awful experience

  12. Eric Reply

    If you visit the Queen Mary in Long Beach, there is (or at least there was, I assume it’s still there) a special isolated underwater chamber that you can walk down to, and look at the prop. “Neat,” I thought, “let’s go do that!” Well I damn near had a panic attack and hustled out of there as soon as it was humanly possible. I also remember thinking that the scene in Titanic, when the boat breaks in half and the back half falls on a lot of people in the water, was an utterly horrifying way to die. It’s somehow worse than, say, having a building fall on you.

    Anyway, the point is, now I know why, because after being alive for 45 years, today I first heard of submechanophobia, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got it. I’m okay with seeing stuff from above the waterline, but the idea of being in the water near those things makes my skin crawl.

  13. Melda Reply

    Wow i just found out what my weird fear are called thank u for this post.
    First of all pardon my english, it’s bad.
    I think i was a pretty good pool swimmer until when i see something odd like one of the tile’s cracking, or have a different color, i got panicked and suffocated. Pool’s lamp, pipes underwater etc. Worst case was when my teacher pointed me to compete a regional swimming competition. I was first place for the first lap, swim as straight as i could because the tile lines are different color, but when i reach the edge of the pool there’s a large metal pipe beneath, so the next lap was awful. lost my pace because i was too panicked. The last weekend i took a surfing class in bali and everything’s fine, because i can’t see anything underwater. Then i swam at hotel swimming pool and got scared when the lamps turned on around me. Think i can swim happily at a beach. I tried to face my fears anyway…

  14. Benjamin Reply

    Why the pictures when i saw those i just looked away and turned my phone off for 10 min i’m realy scared of that shit

  15. Anna Reply

    Cannot believe that there’re so many people out there struggling with this!

    Shipwrecks and other underwater objects totally freak me out… but I had a dream a few nights ago and all I remembered was seeing a small boat floating over me. I woke up immadiately… It doesn’t even have to be underwater and it creeps the soul out of me! Life would be a horror movie for me if I were a fish..

    Anyway, thanks for the post!

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