Ironically, I'm OK with cuecumbers.
June 27, 2006 7:10 AM   Subscribe

The pickle phobia video hit my office yesterday and now everyone is offering opinions on why someone would be afraid of pickles. Look, there's

After watching the video I think it is obvious that Maury's producers were up to some psychological preparations with the girl but others in the office swear that a phobic reaction like that isn't too outlandish. I say poppycock but before I staunchly defend my belief that everything on daytime TV is faked, I want your opinion. Fake? If not, how would one become afraid of something to this extent?
posted by DragonBoy to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't explain it, but I'm dead serious: I had a very real pickle phobia growing up. Not only would I not eat pickles, I would not eat anything that touched pickles. If a fast food joint put pickles on my hamburger I would have to fight back tears it was so crushing. In college I had an evil girlfriend that would throw them in my coke to see my psychotic reaction. Not kidding about a single bit of it.

That said, this is clearly fake.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:19 AM on June 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

I should also note: Ironically, I was always okay with cucumbers.

I'm over the phobia, mostly. I would still have to wash my hands if I picked up a pickle, but no disproportionate freakouts any more.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:27 AM on June 27, 2006

I think this is totally fake.

However, I did know someone who had mycophobia, a fear of mushrooms. He couldn't even look at them. He wasn't comfortable standing next to the food table at a party if he knew one of the dishes had mushrooms.
posted by necessitas at 7:27 AM on June 27, 2006

Hating pickles and refusing to eat things touched by them is different than being afraid of them.

I think it's totally fake. If she was so mentally ill as to be terrified of pickles, she probably wouldn't be appearling on Maury's show.
posted by tastybrains at 7:29 AM on June 27, 2006

I think you're missing that a true phobia isn't based in reality.

I have close friends and family with real phobias and they know their aversion to certain things (height, spiders, etc) are totally irrational, but when confronted with such things, they can't help it but freak out. You can talk to them about it and they'll say they shouldn't flip out and they know the object of their phobia is mostly harmless but you pull out a spider or put them on top of a parking garage and you get total panic attack.
posted by mathowie at 7:30 AM on June 27, 2006

Spiders and Heights aren't pickles. They're common fears, and they are based in reality. I think someone who is as terrified of pickles as that girl makes out to be (shaking, screaming, running away from pickles) would have some major problems functioning in the real world, where a pickle could be hidden in any sandwich, lurking in any sub shop, waiting on the shelves of any supermarket.

Plus, she's not just terrified of eating them or smelling them or touching them. She's terrified of their presence. Supposedly. I just don't buy it.
posted by tastybrains at 7:35 AM on June 27, 2006

Channel Five in the UK had a program on extreme phobias, which included a woman terrified of birds and a man who was terrified of baked beans. This Telegraph article goes into more detail about those two -- I saw the documentary, and those two definitely weren't faking it; I have never seen someone so terrified of a bird.
posted by ukdanae at 7:41 AM on June 27, 2006

tastybrains-- I was absolutely afraid of pickles. It was a phobia. Now I simply hate them.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:42 AM on June 27, 2006

But I still think it was fake...nobody with that acute a phobia would agree to be led into a pickle factory (let alone make an ass of themselves on Maury)
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:43 AM on June 27, 2006

Your description didn't really sound like a fear, so much as the fact that the very hint of a pickle could ruin your meal and/or day.

Anyway, that Maury clip made me hungry. I could kill for a full-sour right now.
posted by tastybrains at 7:46 AM on June 27, 2006

Of course people can have irrational fears and phobias, even to pickles. The reason why I think it's fake, or really overblown, is because the woman works in a restaurant that serves pickles. If she was truly terrified of pickles, why would she choose this type of employment?
posted by LoriFLA at 7:46 AM on June 27, 2006

I agree with tastybrains. I know people who have phobias of spiders and roaches, but they are still able to function even to the point of being able to kill the damn things. This is why I think the producers of the show must have used some psycological ploy to whip the girl into a phobic frenzy.

Her reaction to something that one encounters on a regular basis just doesn't strike me as being real. I mean, if you are afraid of spiders you find a way to deal with them because they're everywhere.
posted by DragonBoy at 7:52 AM on June 27, 2006

If it hadn't been sold out, I was totally getting this for my wife during hte last Threadless sale.
posted by blueshammer at 7:56 AM on June 27, 2006

/me bought that exact shirt. and received it today.

*hates pickles with a fierce, unbridled passion*
posted by disillusioned at 8:19 AM on June 27, 2006

Of course people can have irrational fears and phobias, even to pickles. The reason why I think it's fake, or really overblown, is because the woman works in a restaurant that serves pickles. If she was truly terrified of pickles, why would she choose this type of employment?

Perhaps as part of her therapy? Exposure to the thing you have a phobia of is the most common form of therapy for phobias.

I think this is absolutely real.
posted by agregoli at 8:37 AM on June 27, 2006

From the way her voice was cracking, she's a hell of an actress if she's faking it.

I say real. Easier to find someone with genuine psychological problems than a skilled actor: there are more of them and they're cheaper.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:41 AM on June 27, 2006

That said, this is clearly fake.

Isn't it strange what people will do for a plane ticket and two nights in a hotel?
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:03 AM on June 27, 2006

Isn't it strange what people will do for a plane ticket and two nights in a hotel?

Or for their 15 minute of fame.

Though I'm still not entirely convinced it was completely fake.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 9:21 AM on June 27, 2006

Just discussed it with another one of my friends and he reckons they were hypnotized before going on air.

posted by ClarissaWAM at 9:39 AM on June 27, 2006

It looked like a bad SNL sketch to me.
posted by wheelieman at 9:46 AM on June 27, 2006

DragonBoy, I have a friend who's terrified of spiders and does just that, despite her regular exposure to them. We were hiking one day, and she literally shrieked, jumped into the air, and hid behind me. There was a tiny spider on a rock about 5' away.

I kid you not. I don't understand it, but the ear-splitting shriek don't lie.
posted by Alterscape at 10:01 AM on June 27, 2006

Billy Bob Thornton has admitted to a serious phobia of antique furniture.
posted by shifafa at 10:08 AM on June 27, 2006

My wife is afraid of butterflies, even photographs or a painting.


I of course take great delight in pointing out that the tablecloth she just bought has small butterflies printed on it that she didn't notice, and other such things. It's a wonder we made it past the first year of marriage.
posted by beowulf573 at 11:07 AM on June 27, 2006

I think it's real. If not, they're Oscar-caliber performances. Did you watch the mustard one? The dog and bird ones?

I was disappointed that the rest of the show wasn't online. Did that guy cure them or what?
posted by dobbs at 11:11 AM on June 27, 2006

We were hiking one day, and she literally shrieked, jumped into the air, and hid behind me. There was a tiny spider on a rock about 5' away.

I'd do that (I have arachnophobia too), but much of that is the "unexpected encounter" effect. It's a far call from there to full blown screaming, running away, crying, shaking and hiding under a chair (can't remember which one of them did this, pickles, mustard or balloons).
posted by ClarissaWAM at 11:21 AM on June 27, 2006

I guess the difference I see is that the other phobias people are talking about ... spiders, birds, even butterflies .... are things that at least do stuff. There are reasons to be afraid of those things. They may seem like silly reasons, but they're still reasons that I can understand. Why be afraid of birds? They can bite you, they can spread disease, and I mean, hell, have you seen that Alfred Hitchcock movie? Why be afraid of butterflies? They can fly around in your face and they're bugs, and some bugs do bite and are poisonous. They're essentially big flying bugs. Kinda creepy, if you're easily creeped out. Why be afraid of spiders? Well, spiders bite, some are poisonous, and they creep around and sneak up on you. Why be terrified of heights? Because you can fall! Why be terrified of flying in an airplane? Because it could crash!

But pickles? Why pickles? What's scary there? I just want to hear it articulated. It hurts my head to think about the reason why someone would be terrified to be in the mere presence of a pickle. The pickle does not emit any sort of toxic poison. It probably won't make you sick if you eat it. And you don't have to eat it. I can understand being grossed out by pickles, disgusted by pickles, unhappy with pickles, but not scared of pickles.

Maybe I just don't get phobias, but every other phobia I have heard of seems to have at its root some hint of a reason.
posted by tastybrains at 12:29 PM on June 27, 2006

Irrational fears are a type of anxiety disorder. A more severe type of anxiety disorder is OCD. OCD and anxiety disorders are legitamate medical conditions which are frequently seen as irrational. The people suffering from these conditions know that what they are doing is irrational, they know its ridiculous, and they know that it interferes terribly with their lives. That said, they cannot do anything about it.

It is difficult to say what causes these anxiety conditions. In some cases, its severe emotional (or even physical) trauma. It could also be an extreme case of depression, mania, schizophrenia, PTSD, or even a hormonal (or other physiological imbalance). Frankly, from what I can remember from class, there are very few cases when the trigger can be clearly identified. (Obviously a military Veteran with an extreme fear or helicopters or flying might make sense, even if he/she is currently in a safe environment.)

As for the pickle girl, I didn't watch the whole thing because I honestly found it extremely cruel. (There is a method of treatment where patients are exposed to their most intense fear in a dramatic fashion called flooding, but Maury Povich is not a doctor, and there were no paramedics nearby in case the subject went into shock or was hurt, so he's just being irresponsible and stupid by doing this to her.) If this girl is faking, she's doing a good job, but maybe she really has this fear and it is a very disruptive part of her life, and maybe she's playing it up a little for the show. Who knows?

Regardless, I don't think it's really our place to judge other people's fears (as irrational as they seem), especially since she seems to know how little sense it makes to be afraid of pickles. In the long term, she will require significant amounts of psychiatric therapy and/or medication, and treatment. It may sound silly to say that treatment is required to get over a pickle-phobia, but honestly it could very easily get worse and become something that completely debilitates her.

More good, basic information can be found on Wikipedia (of course):

(I am a med student, I am not a doctor, and I am definitely not HER doctor.)
posted by ruwan at 1:12 PM on June 27, 2006

My wife is afraid of butterflies, even photographs or a painting.


I'm scared of the buggers. They have big flapping wings, and you don't know where they're going. Moths too.
posted by chrismear at 1:28 PM on June 27, 2006

Ruwan offered a great answer but I'm still wondering if anyone thinks that the producers/people working for Maury used any psychological techniques (other than irresponsibility) to whip her into the frenzy as shown.
posted by DragonBoy at 1:36 PM on June 27, 2006

Maury's done several of these shows with people afraid of stuff like tiny puppies, baby kittens, mustard, and so on. If she's faking, then so are a lot of other people.

You can see some of the techniques Maury and the producers use, demonstrated right on the show. YouTube isn't working for me right now, so I can't see this video, but generally the shows include intro videos done by the subjects themselves. These provide intros ("I've always been scared of puppydogs") but also make the subjects relive trauma ("...ever since one ate my younger brother when I was five, waaaah"), which makes them more vulnerable and susceptible.

Also, generally, they don't just bring out whatever the subject is scared of. Maury asks "Are you sure you're ready to face your biggest fear?!?!" for about five minutes first. Of course, this provides enough time and apprehension for the subject to freak out even more than usual.
posted by booksandlibretti at 2:13 PM on June 27, 2006

I'm terrified of butterflies also. Run screaming from them.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:09 PM on June 27, 2006

A butterfly came by the other day. Every time I tried to get a bit closer for a good look, it flew away. But after I sat down, the thing actually came and landed on my nose! Alas, my camera was not handy. I took it as the butterfly's way of saying it was sorry for not trusting me to look (but I'm a tree-hugging nutcase)
posted by Goofyy at 7:07 AM on June 28, 2006

« Older Scared of San Fran!   |   locked out Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.