“It’s all in your head.” How many times have you heard that comment after describing an irrational fear? Of course, it’s essentially correct: Irrational fears begin and end in our psyches rather than reflecting an external threat. Yet they cause our brains to unleash the same fight-or-flight response normally reserved for a charging elephant or approaching tornado. Even though we “know better” than to take them seriously, these phobias are powerful and often hard, if not impossible, to shake.
For our fifth subscriber invitational, we asked our readers to poke around the depths of their unconscious minds and send us a description of their most irrational fears. Some submissions we received will feel familiar: Most of us have had at least one discomfiting moment in a dark cellar, or feel occasionally squeamish around spiders. Others, though, were truly unique: How many people break out in a cold sweat when coming into contact with buttons, or dread the sight of falling snowflakes?
After receiving more than 70 subscribers’ submissions, we invited 13 musicians to select one irrational fear to use as inspiration for a new song on the issue’s CD compilation.