Influential people in history shape the course of the world. Their life, work and politics not only affect their immediate realities but also change the course of time, which is one of the key reasons why they are so identifiable in history. However, other than their beliefs, people’s lives are also affected by their fears. Many of the most influential people in history are known to have unique phobias that deeply affected them. Phobias are uncontrolled, lasting and irrational fears of some objects or being in some situations. These fears may cause panic attacks and people may go to great lengths to avoid the source of their fears. Here is a list of five of the most influential people who suffered from unique phobias.
1. Edvard Munch
The famous painter of the legendary painting ‘The Scream,’ Munch was a Norwegian painter whose works have become iconic images of world art. Munch suffered from acute agoraphobia, which is fear of being in places or situations where it might be difficult to escape. He had expressed that his work and his mental health had a complicated relationship.
2. Adolf Hitler
Hitler portrayed himself to be the most powerful man but he suffered from an irrational fear of dentists. According to what his dentist told Soviet forces, the German dictator suffered from bad breath and lack of oral hygiene. The reason was that he was too afraid of the dentist’s chair.
3. George Washington
One of the founding fathers of the United States suffered from a peculiar fear that was common to the time. Washington was afraid of being buried alive. The reason for his fear was in the truth that at the time, there were no mechanical ways to confirm death and sometimes people were buried even when they were not completely dead
4. Augustus Caesar
In ancient Rome, Caesar was believed to be the most powerful man but he was afraid of the dark and thunder. Known for ruling his empire with an iron fist and pushing his rivals into exile, if Caesar had to witness thunder and lightning, he trembled.
5. Charles Darwin
Known for his revolutionary contribution to the science of evolution, Darwin suffered greatly from anxiety and agoraphobia. Now that we know that he travelled so much to produce his scientific work, the extent to which he battled his anxiety to accomplish something is remarkable.
The list of influential people suffering from extreme anxieties linked to specific fears is long. For example, when famous composer Frederic Chopin fell ill, he asked his family members to cut open his chest before burying him, like Washington, he too was afraid of being buried alive. While scientists know that phobias develop because of both genetic and environmental factors, they are still trying to figure out if a scary first encounter is necessary for a person to develop a phobia.