Aibohphobia is a very rare psychological disorder and is characterized by the unusually fearful reaction elicited by the sufferer upon recognizing a palindrome. It was first discovered by Dr. Hans Eresnahrd in 1991, who himself was a chronic sufferer of the disorder.


A palindrome is defined as a word, phrase, verse, or sentence that reads the same backward or forward, as in “A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!”

The Discovery of Aibohphobia

Eresnahrd first became interested in the then-unknown disorder at the age of 18 when his own symptoms lead to several misdiagnoses, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. His theory that his frequent panic attacks and blackouts were caused by a completely new psychiatric disorder spurred him on to study psychology at the University of Nëmen, Germany. While at university he founded the popular website where he met other people with similar symptoms and misdiagnoses. Encouraged by the positive response to his website, he decided upon doing a detailed study of the disorder for his Ph.D. Within a year Eresnahrd had made the link between palindromes and the acute panic attacks that sufferers experienced. In his paper he named the disorder “Disposition to Acute Uneasiness in Relation to Palindromes”; however, this was not very catchy and the paper was never published. When Eresnahrd protested, one editor replied that “it was simply too silly to publish,” and for good measure added “Madam, I’m Adam {snigger}.”

This was a major setback for Eresnahrd, who had, not only to cope with such a gratuitous palindrome, but with the rejection of a year’s work. This put Eresnahrd in a deep despair. Fortunately, or unfortunately for him, his colleagues managed to get hold of a copy of his paper on disposition to acute uneasiness in relation to palindromes, and thought it would be a hilarious prank to rewrite the paper and fill it with palindromes. After a couple of days’ hard work they had produced their master prank and sent it to the respected Journal of Special Psychology, Clinical Psychiatry and Sociology (abbreviated to Journal of SPCPS), of which Eresnahrd was a keen reader.

When the next issue came out it was clear how fiendishly clever his colleagues had been. Eresnahrd article had been published under the title “Aibohphobia” which in fact is just the word “phobia” with the prefix “phobia” written backwards (aibohp) to give the palindrome Aibohphobia. This proved too hilarious to the editors of Journal of SPCPS not to publish, since anybody suffering from this condition would immediately be put into a state of agony every time they tried to discover what they were suffering from. On attempting to read the article, Eresnahrd was not only furious but became frightened as well. After a brief heated argument with his colleagues where he tried his best to avoid the subject of Aibohphobia, which was inevitably brought up, Eresnahrd refused to speak to them ever again and ran out of the room crying.

Eresnahrd continued to work on Aibohphobia alone, but under his original name for the condition, “disposition to acute uneasiness in relation to palindromes.” This proved to be a less than satisfactory arrangement, since any correspondence to him on the subject of the disorder referred to it as Aibohphobia and was always accompanied by a panic attack. But by the end of 1990 he had almost completed his PhD despite the continual panic attacks he suffered while researching the disorder. It was in 1991 when his Ph.D. was accepted and he gained the title of Dr. After this a dramatic deterioration was seen in Eresnahrd’s condition. Every time he spoke to anyone he appeared terrified and he had refused, not only to read, but even to look at his mail. These strange actions carried on with no obvious explanation, until his colleagues, who felt quite guilty for worsening his already rather silly condition, sent a letter of apology to Eresnahrd, who refused to read it. His colleagues, being unable to talk with him face to face, took the strategy of giving their apology to him by yelling into a megaphone outside his house. This had rather dramatic and unexpected results; here is an extract from an eyewitness statement:

. . . and the one them holding the megaphone shouted, “Doctor Hans Eresnahrd . . .” when I heard an terrible scream from inside the house, followed by another, then a large thud followed by several more thuds. I called the police just in case.

Eresnahrd did not open his door for the police and they were forced to break it down. Upon entry they noticed a huge pile of unopened mail just inside the door, and found Dr. Eresnahrd lying unconscious at the bottom of the stairs. It seems that immediately after his colleagues began yelling to him, he had a panic attack and fell down the stairs while trying to run away. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he fell into a coma from which he has not emerged.

A later investigation into the incident uncovered one last anecdote to the story. It seems that fate had not been kind to Eresnahrd—when he gained the title “Dr.” he must have realized the irony that his name, Dr. Hans Eresnahrd, was actually a palindrome. This appeared to push the fearful psychologist over the edge; it was no wonder that he didn’t dare look at mail addressed to him—or that he tried to flee from his own name, which ended with him inadvertently putting himself in a coma.

I so wish I could take credit for this delightful bit of silliness, but it comes (with a few copy edits—sorry, I couldn’t help myself) from the wonderful Uncyclopedia (“The content-free encylcopedia that anyone can edit”!)

Categories: Humor, Words | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Aibohphobia

  1. I was about halfway through the first paragraph when I muttered, “This is a joke, right?”

    Glad my instincts were right. I have seen sillier things be not-jokes.

  2. I think your years at HRS are the longest continuous not-joke I’ve ever heard described.

  3. indigobunting

    Quite entertaining. As you know, it annoys me that the word palindrome isn’t one.

  4. Quite treu. When do we start the book? We could just can it all and make it downloadable.

    (Wheeles turning)

  5. No, it can, as it is, it is a war. Raw as it is, it is an action.

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