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This is a question Phobias

What gives you the heebie-jeebies?

It's a bit strong to call this a phobia, but for me it's the thought of biting into a dry flannel. I've no idea why I'd ever want to or even get the opportunity to do so, seeing as I don't own one, but it makes my teeth hurt to think about it. *ewww*

Tell us what innocent things make you go pale, wobbly and send shivers down your spine.

(, Thu 10 Apr 2008, 13:34)
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My unusual childhood phobias, what they all had in common, and an attempt to understand the root cause of discrimination.
When I was aged 6-9, I had a couple of unusual phobias.

To start with, when my parents got me a copy of the Alice in Wonderland book, there was an image of Alice with a long neck. This picture freaked the shit out of me. I could see this unholy apparition and just found it extremely disturbing. I was only 6 at the time, and my mother was reading me the book. Instead of listening attentively, I was scared to death that there might be more scary illustrations. The long-necked Alice continued to haunt me for some months to come. Although it petrified me, it had some sort of fascination to it (fascinated by it's scariness?), but that lead me to think about it more and even looking at it - thus making that unholy image appear in my thoughts more often. In the end, I persuaded my mum to hide the book. She hid it so well she forgot where she put it, and that even today some 30 odd years later, the last I heard she still hadn't found it (she still lives at the same address).
Alice with a long neck

When I was 8 (or possibly 7), I came across a picture that showed the evolution of human skulls from the earliest hominids to Homo Sapiens. I found regular skulls a bit scary, but looking at the elongated skulls of Homo Whatever frightened me. It was some ancient primeval force come back from the dead.

An image similar to an image comparing the skull of Homo Sapiens to several other early hominids.

Then, there were non-standard TV test patterns. One day, instead of seeing the usual one, I saw one that looked like a Christmas tree and it scared me.

And then, aged 9, I saw a cartoon which had an episode that featured a flash-forward to the future. To make it look like it was a long time from now, the characters appeared to have aged considerably. They had not become deformed in some hideous way, but even so, their older selves terrified me. From that point on, I became terrified of seeing older versions of people who I had seen younger. Looking at old people did not bother me, it was just seeing them age. For a couple of weeks after I saw that cartoon, I was afraid I'd have a nightmare and witness someone age. Likewise, I was afraid I'd see such a thing happen in another cartoon. Nowadays, I've pretty much gotten over it. Documentaries that feature an old photo of someone and then cut to them being interviewed many years later don't bother me. However, that Star Trek episode where Dr Pulaski ages rapidly still sends shivers down my spine, but the horror is nowhere near as bad as what it was when I was 9.

OK, so there's a pattern beginning to emerge. Can you guess what it is?





If you've guessed "Fear of distorted images", you're right. The unusually long neck, the stretched skulls, the unorthodox test pattern and changing facial features - all a sign of distortion of some kind.

One of my hobbies is reverse engineering psychedelic drugs (this would have been a good answer for the "How nerdy are you" question). I have never taken any psycedelics (in fact, I've never taken anything stronger than Alcohol), and have never meditated myself into a similar state of mind, so I have no firsthand experience of 'that' state of mind. People who've had such an experience often say that it's impossible to describe and they say that written accounts barely scratch the surface. Being the geek that I am, I like to read through experiences of trips and from what information I can gather, give myself the challenge of trying to mentally re-construct what state of mind I'll end up in and how this will affect my perception of the world and try and imagine myself in that state of mind. One way of looking at it: Imagine if you're English and the only foreign language you speak is poor French. Now, go to Morocco and try talking to some Arab whose only foreign language is a different kind of poor French. Communication will be slow to say the least, and only the simplest of concepts can be communicated. Now, with an English speaker, you can communicate more fluently. Try and imagine yourself connected to the Arab by a 'perception-pipe'. This 'perception-pipe' is narrow, thus restricting the flow of ideas. With the English person, the pipe will be somewhat wider. Now, if you have a PHD and you're communicating with someone who also has a PHD in a similar field, the 'perception-pipe' will be wider still. To properly describe a psychedelic experience would require a pipe several orders of magnitude wider that makes the size-difference between the other three pipes look miniscule by comparison. In fact, instead of a three-dimensional hollowed cylinder, the 'pipe' may have to be a shape of more than 3 dimensions. The narrowing of the 'perception-pipe' is probably deliberate to prevent your brain from being overwhelmed. Also, if you've experienced the world from different points of view, that also helps. Just bear in mind that the points-of-view space is much bigger and has many more dimensions than you previously imagined. I have started reading Aldous Huxley's "The Doors of Perception" but never got round to finishing it. Also around 1999, I was browsing someone’s personal webpage and they had page after page of pictures of raves and their lighting effects (strobe-lights, laser lights, etc), and after a couple of pages of this, there was a link to lots of drug-resources, and one of these pages had experiences of LSD/'Shrooms/etc.

So what the blazing gadzunkas does my geeky waffle have to do with fear of distorted images, I hear you ask? You know I mentioned above that I have never had a psychedelic experience? I may have been wrong. I have an extremely faint memory of experiencing something that might have resembled a bad trip in my very early childhood. Maybe it was a bad dream, or maybe I may have accidentally eaten something one of my childminders left carelessly lying around (it would not have been my parents - they did not do that sort of thing). What happened was that I remember everything becoming more colourful and lovely. This lasted for a bit, and then everything became completely scary. This lasted for a while. When it was beginning to subside, I started to think of the wonderful things that I saw, but that did not help me 'recover' because I was still able to conceive the things I experienced in my disturbing experience (I cannot remember any details). This memory must have remained completely repressed until my teenaged years. I had not done any drugs but did hear about the concept of the bad trip and the word Psychedelic. Had I heard of the word 'Psychedelic' when I was aged 3, I recon my communication would have improved dramatically. Now, you can use 'fuck-feeling' if you don't know what 'orgasm' means, but AFAIK, there's no such substitute for 'Psychedelic'. Anyway, at the time, It did remind me that this might have possibly happened, but only remembered the outline. I have a theory that when I saw the picture of Alice with the long neck aged 6, this may have triggered a flashback to my state of mind I had in that psychedelic experience I may have had. The distortion would have reminded me of the distortions caused by psychedelic experiences. If it wasn’t the result of accidentally ingesting a hallucinogen, maybe my brain hadn't fully formed it's perception-pipe-limiting abilities yet, or maybe I was just ill, or maybe it was just a bad dream.

Anyway, the last time I looked up "fear of distorted images" on Google, I couldn't find anything. I don't know if there's anything on Wikipedia because I have absolutely no idea where to look. Perhaps someone could give me some helpful pointers. Who knows, maybe I've stumbled across something previously unknown in psychology.

One implication that this could have is that it might shed light on the root cause of racism. Seeing someone who’s skin is a different colour than what you're used to might be considered a 'distortion' and if the person suffers from fear of distorted images, this may force them to subjectively come up with negative perceptions of their own accord. Now, if this person lives in a racist culture, they may have their beliefs re-enforced by racists who cement these evil ideas in their heads. While nearly everyone has seen the full range of skin-colours, not everyone has seen an image of someone suffering from Cherubism (see here for a picture). Now, if you're feeling shocked, maybe it's because somewhere deep down inside, you're also suffering from fear of distorted images to some extent.

Nowadays, I'm a big fan of the surreal. I kind of like distorted images. I produce surreal texts and some badly drawn surreal cartoons, and have even written a screensaver that distorts the colours of an image of the desktop.

Oh, and from an olfactory point of view, I was afraid of the smell of Olives and TCP when I was a child. Not sure if this has anything to do with distortions, but I was scared of their smells. Nowadays, Olives are not exactly my favourite food but at least I'll eat them now.

Length? Distorts according to mood.
(, Fri 11 Apr 2008, 13:30, 4 replies)
Very thoroughly thought out and researched.
I'm impressed.

(, Fri 11 Apr 2008, 13:41, closed)
TCP fear
Often masks a fear of hospitals/medical situations as the smell of TCP has become the 'default' antiseptic-y smell.

As an aside, olfactory stimuli are one of the most powerful links to memory going - TCP in my case links to getting a BFO chunk of glass in my foot on Cromer beach and being patched up by Mumsie. Instant flashback. I can still recognise the perfume worn by the first Love of My Life, and the smell of fox pee instantly reminds me I once slept with a ginger bird.
(, Fri 11 Apr 2008, 14:18, closed)
TCP! god i hate that stuff - see my TCP story...
..."annoying spotty prick', (post title not you - i'm quite sure your lovely when you take the VERY THICK glasses off)

and try to get some daylight between publishing papers (without trying to synthesize vitamin d)

get a polaroid camera while there is still kodak stock on sale for them - then push the emulsion around with a toothpick before it drys fully. you'll like that

clearly a nerd but likeable click!
(, Sat 12 Apr 2008, 1:02, closed)
Nerdy, moi?
Yes, I'm a nerd. Mentioning Star Trek must have given it away.

Although I must confess your Polaroid emulsion idea has made me wonder what algorithm I need to use to replicate that effect on my PC.

Length? Double Polaroid.
(, Sat 12 Apr 2008, 13:47, closed)

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