The Book of Phobias and Manias

We rated this book:


Arguably we all have at least one phobia or mania. This book explores 99 of these with the intent of commenting on our obsessions. The entries are alphabetically arranged, each ranging from a few lines to a couple of pages. They delve into the origins of the word, case studies, or historical anecdotes. The entries are designed to be independent of each other, making it easier to browse or read the book in smaller chunks. Not all phobias or manias fit the psychological definition. Some are fads (like tulipomania, the Dutch tulip mania from 1634-1637), and others (like albohphobia, fear of palindromes) are jokes.

The narrative is easy to follow and includes breaks of levity during serious or morbid episodes. It makes the point that phobias and manias are cultural constructs and that women are more prone to be phobic. It hypothesizes that possibly the social environment is more hostile towards them (so they have more reason to be afraid) or because their fears are more likely to be dismissed as “irrational.” While the narrative is primarily factual, there are nuggets of speculation that beguile the reader. This book is not intended to be read in one sitting and would come across as repetitive to readers who read large chinks of it at one time. Ideal for browsing or light reading.

Reviewed By:

Author Kate Summerscale
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 256 pages
Publisher Penguin Publishing Group
Publish Date 27-Sep-2022
ISBN 9780593489758 Buy this Book
Issue January 2023
Category History