Katsaridaphobia: Cockroaches Really Bug Me
Unless you're an entomologist, you probably aren't particularly fond of insects. They can be a nuisance or a vague threat if they're the kind that sting or bite (and worse if you're allergic). I'm one of those people who will avoid killing random insects I come across because let's face it, they're not out to get me. There are some insects, however, that horrify me down to the core of my being.
I'm fully aware that by even writing about this I'm setting myself up for potential panic attacks. You see, I suffer from katsaridaphobia, the overwhelming fear of cockroaches. I'm not talking about the little ones, although those are gross in their own right. If you grew up in a tropical climate, you'll know the kind of cockroaches I'm talking about. They are usually a few inches in length and they fly. Unlike most bugs, they don't fly away from you, they fly towards you.
People in the Southern US (where I'm from) will try to make giant flying cockroaches sound less repulsive by calling them Palmetto bugs. Do not be fooled. This is just a way to avoid revealing how repulsive they really are. When you tell people you killed a giant cockroach you found in your kitchen they might question if they should ever enjoy a meal at your home again. Still don't believe me? Perform a Google Image search for "Palmetto bug" and then do the same for "giant cockroach." There is an obvious difference, and Wikipedia searches will bear out that these are two different kinds of insects. There's a reason that I am not going to provide photos. Because katsaridaphobia, that's why.
My fear is so bad that I can't even look at photos of cockroaches without feeling nauseated and getting the chills. Granted, photos are about as close as I get to them these days; I've lived in Canada for a decade and large cockroaches can't survive the cold winters around here. You'd think my phobia would have decreased with my distance from the south, but you'd be wrong. I still have nightmares, usually once or twice a month, about large flying cockroaches.
The most frequent version of the nightmare involves having to sleep in either one of the houses I lived in as a child or my paternal grandmother's home. Perhaps as a result of Hurricane Katrina, the house will be somewhat decrepit, with cracks in the walls or windows that don't close all the way. In the dream, I will avoid sleeping in a certain room because of the cockroaches. I know that as soon as I turn out the lights, they'll be there waiting to make themselves known. I will remain trapped in the bed because if I get out of the bed there will be dozens of them on the floor or flying into my hair and I don't want to step on them or have them crawl on me.
Unless you've dealt with giant flying cockroaches in real life, you probably won't understand how horrible they are to deal with. For example, you can't easily get rid of them. First, there's the whole "flying towards you" thing. Plus, they are perhaps unsurprisingly difficult to kill. You can spray them with bug spray but this usually just slows them down and they will crawl away and hide, only to return at some later date to freak you out all over again. You can use blunt force, but it's extremely messy, sort of like when John Travolta accidentally shoots that guy in the head in Pulp Fiction.
Like most phobias, the recommended treatment for katsaridaphobia is cognitive behavioral therapy. As one website states:
Gradual desensitization or exposure therapy is one of the most common methods of overcoming zoophobias like Katsaridaphobia. This includes looking at pictures of cockroaches, touching a dead cockroach and gradually progressing to being in the same room as the cockroaches without experiencing a panic attack.
Um, no. Just reading that makes me dizzy. I'd rather cut off my own hand than touch a dead cockroach.
I'm sure some form of therapy would help with my phobia but it seems silly since I don't have to worry about dealing with them on a daily basis now that I live in Canada. Still, that doesn't make the fear any less, and it doesn't make the nightmares go away.