Diogenes the Cynic, I think we need to discuss this a little bit more

I’m putting this in the Pit because that is the appropriate place, not because I want to see you tarred and feathered or piled-on.

In the interest of fighting ignorance, I think we need to discuss this post (near the bottom of page three) a little more:

Other people mentioned it in the thread quoted, and you did say that you apologized to your victim and wished you hadn’t mentioned this whole episode here, but I also got the feeling that you still don’t really get why what you did was wrong.

Your co-worker has an irrational fear - a phobia. If you’re lucky, you’ll never have one. If you’re unlucky, you might develop your own some day, and then you’ll probably feel a whole lot of shame for doing what you did, once you understand in your gut how you treated your co-worker. And don’t for a minute think you are somehow exempt from developing a phobia because you don’t take them seriously.

It is not for you to say what is or isn’t irrational or an overreaction. There are people in the world who are phobic of any thing you can possibly think of. People who are phobic are completely legitimately afraid of the object of their phobia; they’re not faking it, and they don’t appreciate other people deriding their unrealistic fear. And so you know, most people know extremely well how irrational their fear is; that doesn’t change the emotional response one bit. They may try to hide it from people like you, who are un-sympathetic and make no effort to try to understand their point of view, and actually use their phobia to hurt them. Your co-worker also had no obligation whatsoever to tell you the origin of her phobia. It should have been enough for her to tell you she had one, and expect you to respect it and her enough to leave it alone.

There is treatment for phobias, but it does not include making fun of people who have them, and chasing them around with the object of their fear.

How do you develop a phobia of cotton?

How does one develop a phobia about spiders, snakes, wasps/bees, or any of a hundred other really interesting things one might encounter in life? I don’t think you get a nice, clean rational answer to an irrational aversion.

It also does not include telling them all about your latest or most shocking experience with said object of fear.

I think the next time I tell someone I have a phobia of needles, and they launch into their “well, I tried to give blood, and they had to stick the needle into me 57 times before they got any” story, I will start discussing in detail my latest poo, or an especially gross pimple that I popped and what came out of it. I wonder if they would get it that I’m as revolted by their needle stories as they are by my poo or pimple stories…

I don’t even know how I developed my phobia of needles (though I can guess it was through some experience with shots or stitches, I can’t point to an incident and say “before this I was not afraid of needles, after this I was”).

Oh, and DtC, it’s your fault that I have that stupid “Cotton: the fabric of our lives” song in my head now. I have no phobia of cotton, but damn, I always hated that commercial…

Go bolling?

I blame the Confederacy

I wonder if she has a hatred of Eli Whitney.

Well, at least spiders, snakes, wasps, bees, etc. have the potential to hurt you. At least some species. I have yet to see anything harmful about cotton in any way, shape or form.

That was uncalled for.

Bees, wasps, and snakes can cause harm…maybe not very much (unless, obviously, if one is allergic to these things) but, I don’t know anyone who enjoys being stung by a bee.

But…cotton??? Is she afraid of things made with cotton too? T-shirts?

I have a friend who is afraid of cotton balls, too. Not cotton fabrics. Just the raw cotton or cotton balls. It’s really strange. She says the texture creeps her out and she won’t touch them.

Jesus H., Neurotik.

Suppose that’s why that pesky preview button is there.

featherlou, Not sure if I am reading this correctly, so please help me out. The quoted post seems to show a great deal of introspection, he apologized to the victim and this so you are Pitting him because, what, he still sees a fear of cotton balls as sort of stupid on some levels?

I mean, I do try to be sensitive and accommodating of others quirks and special needs in my day to day life but I have to say that I would have trouble with this one. At least internally. Because it is pretty fucking stupid.

Yeah, featherlou, you seem to ultimately be taking the position that a fear of cotton balls isn’t stupid. But it is. It may be explainable. It may be something that occasions pity. But it’s still stupid.


I have an otherwise completely sensible friend who is reduced to a quivering pile of terror at the sight of foam rubber.

Although I can’t help laughing when this happens accidentally, I don’t deliberately torment him with it.

(Because if I do, he will stretch an elastic band in my presence, and everyone knows that’s simply terrifying.)

But only “some species” (the number of which is vanishingly small in North America. It hardly explains people who are phobic of Deb’s mild little pythons and boas. And the woman in question does not appear to have had a phobia of cotton, per se, (I presume she wore denim pants and cotton shirts/blouses), she was frightened of balls of cotton (and cotton appearing things). Irrational is irrational.

I have to pull the cotton balls out of medecine bottles for my wife. And sometimes if she touches fabrics ‘wrong’ she doesn’t like it. I’m afraid of Grizzlies when I’m backpacking in Montana. They are kind of like cotton balls, only they have fangs, claws, and can eat you. But if folks are afraid of cotton balls, don’t listen to Tom Cruise. They’ve got drugs now for that sort of thing.

I don’t see what the big deal is.

Oh for og’s sake, educate yourself.


n[ol][li]A persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it, despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous. [/li][li]A strong fear, dislike, or aversion. [/ol] [/li][/quote]


Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is an irrational fear of long words.
I couldn’t help myself, especially because it’s true.

Didja use a needle?

Anyhoo, I find it hard to picture a title I’m less likely to bestow on DtC than “Mr. Sensitivity”, on any subject.