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 🙂
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Submechanophobia how to deal with it (No pictures)