Phobias – they’re something that most of us have. Whether it’s a fear of heights or edges to feeling less than comfortable around clowns (ahh I know that’s mine) we pretty much all have at least one thing that gives us shivers.
Ever heard of thalassophobia? Pretty big word, right?
Well it’s also a pretty common phobia, an irrational fear of something that can generally do you no harm.
Thalassophobia is actually so common that I’d be willing to bet that you have the fear yourself!
The funny thing is you’ve probably never heard of the word thalassophobia, right? Despite that, it’s a very common fear that impacts absolutely loads of us.
Any ideas yet?
Well , thalassophobia is the fear of water (specifically the sea). That’s right – the official definition is as follows: an intense and persistent fear of the sea or of sea travel.
This may not seem like a fear you have, I mean what could be more harmless than water! A nice cool glass of water sounds great!
How about a babbling brook? Relaxing stuff… birds tweeting, water gentle moving over the rocks – bliss!
Yes that’s idilic. But what if that brook drained into a big wide river? That’s a ton more water.
Okay, there could still be nice scenery I guess…rivers are often surrounded by trees and have nice grassy banks where you can sit and take in the views.
But what about when that river ends? It winds up in the big, dark, cold ocean. PANIC!!! There’s all sorts of unknowns down there.
So thalassophobia is the fear of water (specifically the ocean) and we can see why – it’s just so big, dark and eerie.
If the thought of massive expanses of open water (aka the ocean) makes you feel on edge then you can add thalassophobia to your list of fears.
So if you’ve already felt a little shiver down your spine keep on going, and we’ll find out together what exactly that mysterious thalassophobia really is…
Or maybe you don’t think you have thalassophobia. Well, read on and see whether that opinion still stands by the end… I think not!
1. Are you afraid of deep waters?
Are you someone who tends to avoid going in the sea?
Would you freak out if that your feet couldn’t touch something solid beneath them? There’s nothing to cling onto out in open water, is that an unsettling thought for you?
It’s important to note that you don’t have to be a weak swimmer to have thalassophobia – although I’d imagine that doesn’t help. This is because it’s not the actual ability – in inability – to swim that makes people nervous but instead it’s the fear of the isolation and the unknown that come with such big expanses of water.
We’ve all heard of freaky stories of people lost out at sea. These poor people were often aboard a boat and, due to bad weather or unforeseen circumstances their boat sunk or capsized, leaving them and their shipmates in the water. After hours and even days the number of survivors often dwindles leaving just a few people hoping to survive. These people are likely very strong swimmers and yet I’d be pretty happy to bet that in those moments thalassophobia is well and truly present.
2. Do you get anxious about what might be lurking in the water’s depths?
You can’t see what’s happening down there… and that’s thalassophobia, an intense and persistent fear of the sea or of sea travel.
There’s a place off the East coast of the Philippines where you definitely can’t tell what lies below the water. This place, known as the Mariana Trench is the deepest area of ocean (and pretty freakin scary if you ask me).
It’s a crescent shaped place that is a whopping 1,580 miles long and 43 miles wide.
Wait for the most shocking fact though…it reaches a maximum-known depth of 36,070 feet.
To put that into perspective, airplanes fly at 35,000 feet so this freaky trench is deeper than planes fly high… OMG
This seriously makes me think and feel on edge. I mean we literally have no way of knowing what’s all the way down there. No one’s never been that deep, there could be anything….a persistent fear of the sea or sea travel is thalassophobia and boy oh boy do I have it.
3. Once you get into the ocean, any number of creatures could sneak up on you
Any sea creatures whether they’re friendly or not could be near without you realizing. Maybe even just below you.
It’s often ver difficult to see deep into the water because of bad visibility, meaning that huge or really dangerous creatures could be near you without you knowing, ahhh.
4. That’s not even the worst part… what about the massive and deadly creatures out there?
You might have no idea that there is something lurking right beneath you! There’s thalassophobia again. It’s not a general fear of water, but fear of a single specific panic trigger.
Animals aside, I’ve always been freaked out by other stuff under the ocean. Old rusting chains, long bits of fishing line and years old plastic. To me, all of these things just scream trapped or tangled and that for me makes me think of drowning or being pulled under. I guess that would be my panic trigger and thinking about it I definitely do swim away whenever I see anything like that.
5. Ever thought about those shipwrecks laying at the bottom of the sea?
Like the wreck of the Titanic… who knows what secrets lie in wait there at the bottom of the ocean. Are you afraid of what may be down there?
Tragically, over 1500 people died when the Titanic sank. 300 bodies were found but this left over 1000 still at sea.
There must be thousands of bones lying in the sunken bows of the famous ship. Knowing that these people’s last moments were so full of fear adds yet another eerie layer to what lies beneath the oceans.
6. Ever wondered what’s under you that you can’t see when you’re swimming?
Lake or ocean, it doesn’t matter. But does the thought of something touching you make your spine tingle? Thalassophobia sufferers are afraid of deep water whether or not there is a risk involved.
Just a few months ago, two divers got lost when exploring underground caves in Mallorca. Due to a lack of visibility (they couldn’t see right in for of them, let alone beyond their feet) the divers got lost. This happened after the silt from the ocean floor was disrupted, stopping them from seeing their path.
One diver left to find help, leaving Xisco Gràcia in the cave. He spent a terrifying 60 hours alone, surviving on the air available in a small air pocket (his oxygen had run out). He literally didn’t think he was going to make it out alive and so he collected his sharp knife from his bag in preparation to end his life quickly.
If that isn’t enough to trigger the onset of thalassophobia I don’t know what is!
7. Does footage of all the weird creatures from the ocean depths make your skin crawl?
You’re afraid of what you might step on! Even the most safe, calm-looking waters might look scary to you.
You wouldn’t be dumb to think this either – animals have adaptations that give them incredible camouflage, meaning they are often very difficult to spot. Take a look at the photo below for example, there’s an octopus hidden in it – unbelievable, I know.
8. Even if you are on a boat, do you worry about being too far away from land?
Even though the vessel is in no danger and you can swim perfectly well? You might just have Thalassophobia.
9. It’s a feeling that the ocean is too powerful for you to possibly control
What little control you have could be lost at any moment and without any warning at all.
Think about a tsunami. The sheer power of the water in these freak nature events is terrifying. The sea rises into waves taller than tower blocks. It’s pretty amazing and yet totally terrifying at the same time.
10. Does the enormous size of the ocean give you a sense of panic?
Even if you are not in it, as a thalassophobia sufferer, the idea of it being so vast freaks you out. It’s a consistent fear of large bodies of water, and all of the mysterious stuff that may be swimming around in the depths there.
This fact puts it into perspective – the size of the Pacific Ocean alone is greater than all the earth’s land combined, wow. You definitely wouldn’t want to be stranded in the middle of that.
If these images and descriptions filled your mind with anxious thoughts, and just about sent you into a panic attack, then I guess you have thalassophobia! These images may have given you goosebumps, or the feeling that you’re not in control, without even dipping a toe into that dreaded water.
So there you have it, thalassophobia is an intense fear of the sea or sea travel. You can have thalassophobia even if nothing bad has ever happened to you in the ocean.
Thalassophobia shouldn’t be taken lightly, it’s a clinical phobia meaning the symptoms are the same as for most other phobias i.e. panic attacks, sweats and a general feeling of anxiety.
Obviously being clinically diagnosed and medicated for any phobia is very rare. I’d imagine most people who take medication for thalassophobia don’t even go near water. So it’s unlikely this would apply to you!
So, if you’re fearful of what lies beneath the huge ocean waters then you may have thalassophobia, or at least some if its symptoms!
Don’t forge to share this with your friends if you found it interesting… And let us know what you think in the comments. Thanks!