Some people are afraid of needles, some are afraid of spiders. I have an irrational fear of buttons.
From childhood on, I have had a strong problem with buttons. Recently I started looking into it and I was surprised at what I found.
Koumpounophobia, or the fear of buttons, as described by phobias.about.com is “surprisingly common. Yet like any phobia, the specific fear may vary dramatically between sufferers. Some people are afraid of the texture of certain buttons. Others feel that buttons are somehow dirty. Some only fear touching or wearing buttons, while others are scared of viewing buttons worn by strangers or friends.”
There is even a type of the phobia where people are afraid of ingesting them, or having them stuck up their noses, etc. This fear can even be brought on by witnessing a traumatic experience that happens to someone else, such as choking on a button, or swallowing one.
I can honestly say that my fear did not come from some traumatic childhood experience, or anything of the like. As far back as I can remember buttons have simply made me cringe. I do not like to touch them, or have them touching me. Although, seeing them or viewing them on other people does not bother me. Also, to me, buttons have an indentifying smell that is extremely unpleasant.
The severity of my fear depends on the type of button in question. My main phobia consists of your typical four holed button that exist on clothing like menswear shirts, polos, sweaters, etc. Whereas metal buttons that are typically found on jeans, or snap buttons, do not bother me in the slightest.
Want to send me running for the hills? A jar, or bag full of mismatched buttons will do it. The thought alone of having to run my hands over a pile of buttons gives me nightmares.
My problem with this sewing staple has been so constant in my life, that anytime I buy any article of clothing that has unneeded buttons on them, I cut them off as soon as possible. Oh, and those little packets they stitch inside your clothes in case you lose one? In the trash immediately.
I sometimes thank the powers that be that I was born female, therefore not needing to deal with these as often as men would have to. My major concern as of late has been my son. Quinn is 2 this year, and my thoughts often dwell on the fact that as he gets older, I am going to have to conquer my fear of these damned things. Heaven help me if my child ever gets one stuck in his nose, or accidentally eats one.
Being a single mother is challenging, but it also a very rewarding experience. I have to overcome a lot on a daily basis just to keep life constant and joyful for my number one little guy. I get a lot of help from my parents and his father when he’s able, but I can’t always rely on someone else to be there when I have to get him dressed for any kind of dressy outing or the like. I foresee a lot of rubber gloves in my future.
While I was researching my phobia I came across a startling fact. Steve Jobs, the man himself, had Koumpounophobia. Part of the driving ambition to create the iPhone, iPad, etc. was Jobs’ fear of buttons and traditional style phones. “If Steve Jobs had not been afraid of buttons, would cell phones and tablets as we now know them exist today?” – Lisa Fritscher, former About.com Guide
It will surprise no one to learn that my phone is in fact, an iPhone.
Throughout my life, this fear of mine has been mostly a joke to my immediate family, friends, and even coworkers. Many times in the past I have been chastised by my parents for not being able to wear them and it’s even been the butt of a few jokes. Just this evening while I was looking at articles online, a couple of my coworkers were devising ways that they could hide buttons on my chair, or on my locker to paralyze me with fear. The joke is on them though, because payback is a bitch.
See articles on Steve Jobs here:
CBS News – Apple’s Steve Jobs Hates Buttons
The Wall Street Journal – Hide the Button: Steve Jobs Has His Finger on It