Bananaphobia (Fear Of Bananas)

While it is not one of the more common phobias experienced by people around the world, bananaphobia is just as real and frightening to those who have the fear as any other phobia might be. Like most phobias, it can be cured if the sufferer makes a concerted effort to overcome the fear of this fruit.

Overview

There is not a very high number of documented cases of bananaphobia globally, but this particular phobia is known to exist all the same, and it does impact some people very severely. One of the most common ways that bananaphobia develops in a person is when they have experienced some kind of traumatic event in childhood that simply stays with them long into adulthood, or until the phobia is confronted.

One kind of situation that has been known to trigger bananaphobia is when parents force a child to eat the fruit against their will, and forever after that child may have an unreasonable aversion to bananas. Even though bananas do have a very appealing flavor to most people, there are still some people who dislike not only the taste of a banana but the somewhat slimy texture of the fruit inside the skin.

Some people have been known to claim that their fear of bananas stems from the fact that it strikes them as eating a giant slug. Others have developed an unreasonable fear of bananas after having slipped and fallen on a banana peel.

Realistically speaking, bananas are actually a very healthy food for humans, and they contain a good amount of potassium, which is needed by all people to maintain good health. Unfortunately for people who have developed bananaphobia, it is very difficult for them to be anywhere near bananas in a grocery store, to have them anywhere in the household, or even to see them in a fruit bowl at a neighbor’s house.

Bananaphobia symptoms

There are a number of ways that a fear of bananas can be manifested by people who have the fear, and the symptoms can range in severity from very mild to extremely severe.

  • Proximity issues – this symptom relates to having extreme difficulty with being anywhere around bananas.
  • Anxiety issues – some people become so upset upon seeing a banana close to them that they break out in sweats, or may even cry upon discovering that a banana is close to them.
  • Gag reflex – this is one of the more common reactions for people who have bananaphobia, and it results in a person vomiting or experiencing nausea whenever a banana is encountered.
  • Panic attack – in some of the more extreme cases, an actual panic attack can be triggered by close proximity to a banana, usually when the fruit comes in contact with some part of a person’s body.
  • Terror – in the same way that someone might become terrified by seeing a big, hairy spider, the sight of a banana can trigger a similar kind of extreme fear in a person who has a full-blown phobia. This, in turn, can trigger other symptoms such as tremors, perspiration, and a violent shaking.
  • Flight reaction – this is another fairly severe reaction to coming into contact with bananas, and it results in the person fleeing the scene entirely or at least attempting to do so.
  • Paralysis – some people experience outright paralysis when in close proximity to a banana, and it causes them to become rooted to the spot, unable to act, to flee, or even to verbalize their fears.

Treating bananaphobia

Several methods have been used by people who have bananaphobia to help them overcome their fears. One of most recommended methods is to make a concerted effort at self-relaxation. The first step in this process is for a person with bananaphobia to understand and concede the fact that their fears about the fruit are entirely irrational, and not based on any legitimate cause.

Much like therapy sessions, the person who is trying to overcome bananaphobia will have to choose a quiet, calm place where they can confront their fears. It helps to close the eyes and then visualize a banana which is far, far away from you. While engaging in regular deep breathing, continue to visualize the banana so far away that it’s almost a tiny speck.

While continuing the relaxed state of mind and the regular deep breathing, you should visualize the tiny banana coming closer in tiny, non-threatening increments. Continue the therapy for as long as you can, all the while visualizing the banana coming incrementally closer to you throughout the session. If you reach a point where you feel that the banana is uncomfortably close, that would be a good point at which to break off the session for that day, to be picked up again at another time.

Over the course of several sessions such as this, a person with bananaphobia generally discovers that he/she is able to progress a little further each time, and can allow the banana to come a little closer before an uncomfortable level is reached. Many people have become entirely cured of their fear of bananas in just this way.

Prevention of bananaphobia

Obviously, not every single incident can be controlled during childhood so as to avoid the possibility of developing an unreasonable fear of bananas. However, there are some situations which can be avoided, especially by parents and other caregivers, to prevent bananaphobia or any other fruit/vegetable phobia from happening.

No child should ever be forced to ingest some kind of food which they have a natural aversion for. If a situation like this does develop in childhood, there are better ways to approach it than to insist that the child eat something he/she doesn’t want to. A far better approach would be to help a child understand that the fear of bananas has no basis in reality, and then to try and overcome that fear in short, progressive steps.

Whatever the trigger event was which caused the initial fear, that should be the event which is replayed over and over to the child, so as to defuse the idea of danger or dislike. For instance, if the child was choking on a banana at one time, a caregiver can repeatedly demonstrate that slow, cautious ingestion of a banana is perfectly safe, and at the same time, very enjoyable.