Who’s Afraid of Butterflies? Our Fears and Phobias Named and Explained by Stephen Juan – Book Review


I’m afraid of butterflies. It’s true. So when I saw this book on display at my local library, I couldn’t resist. Dr Stephen Juan has taken a subject that many of us find interesting (that being phobias, especially weird phobias) and written about them. Sort of.

About half of the book lists phobias alphabetically, and I though that the way this was done was extremely tedious. It has the main phobia listed with information such as the linguistic root of the medical name and some info on it, then anything related is listed separately but linked back to the main one. Now, if there are two quite different words, this makes sense. Like ‘everything’ and ‘all’. They start with different letters. But when the main phobia is ‘blood’ (Haematophobia), it’s not necessary to list blood donating, blood injury, blood loss, blood pressure and blood transfusions all separately, all one after another. It reminds me of the tricks everyone tried as a student to get away with doing less work. I remember a project on the gold rush where I made massive margins so the amount of work that could have fit onto a single sheet of paper took up about eight. And then there were drawings.

The remainder of the book talks about different theories on where phobias come from and how they may be cured, but the most ridiculous part is the celebrity section. The author even states that information about the celebrities comes from a variety of internet sites and therefore may not be valid. That’s totally dodgy.