Life: The Web of Fear; 99pc of Us Have Phobias,but There Are Ways of Escaping Terror's Icy Grip

Article excerpt

FROM circus clowns and tax inspectors to ear-splitting thunder storms and things that go bump in the night,around 99pc of the population suffer from a phobia that send shivers down their spines. Tennis ace Andre Agassi is terrified of spiders,film star Christina Ricci is afraid of houseplants,and Johnny Depp's extreme clown phobia is certainly no laughing matter. Even Horror writer Alfred Hitchcock had a pathological fear of eggs.

World windsurfing champion Lucy Horwood,from Pwllheli,may be comfortable riding the waves on her board,but get her on the deck of a cross- channel ferry and she gets the heebie jeebies.

``I'm scared of edges,'' says Lucy, who won the IFCA (InternationalFun-board Class Association)World Championships in September last year. ``I'm not scared of heights,it's just standing on the edge of tall buildings or ships.It's silly because I know you can stand there,but I just go all stiff. No bun gee jumping for me,'' shelaughs.

Radio One's BB Aled,from Aberystwyth,has two fears -he is scared of spiders and flying.``I can't live on my own,'' says the producer of Chris Moyles' Breakfast Show.``I have to live with somebody,and it has to be somebody that can kill spiders.

``With flying,I'm okay once I'm up there -it's just the taking off and landing.It's really strange,it's not a phobia from birth,it's just the more I learn about what can go wrong, the more frightened I get. But Chris and I are both scared of flying. If we fly anywhere together we have to sit on separate ends of the plane,because we just get each other worked up.''

No matter how frightened we feel, understanding fear can help us to cope when terror's icy grasp threatens to get the better of us. …