Today’s post is part of a special series here on Planet Pailly called Sciency Words. Each week, we take a closer look at an interesting science or science-related term to help us expand our scientific vocabularies together. Today’s term is:
To be fair, there are cosmic phenomena to be genuinely concerned about, such as potential asteroid impacts, gamma ray bursts, or the kinds of solar storms that could trigger another Carrington Event.
But this is a phobia, meaning its an irrational or over-exaggerated fear. It’s one thing to one thing to worry that an asteroid might one day wipe out human civilization; it’s another to live in existential dread that it might happen at any moment.
Kosmikophoba can also cover totally irrational fears of auroras or eclipses or the phases of the Moon. Or if you’re excessively terrified of comets and planetary alignments because you believe they are bad omens… that could also be considered kosmikophobia.
There are just two things I’m not clear on: first, has anyone actually been diagnosed with kosmikophobia and received treatment for it? And second, why is it spelled with k’s rather than c’s.
Regarding the spelling, I’m guessing the k’s are supposed to be a more authentic transliteration of the original Greek spelling of cosmos. I just can’t find any etymology to back me up on that.
As for the first point, I know not all phobia-words are meant to be taken seriously. For example, hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia (the fear of long words) seems to have been made up as a joke.
Since I can’t find any case studies about patients suffering from kosmikophobia, I can’t be sure how seriously to take this condition. The only thing I can say for certain is that this is a real word. I found it in a real dictionary. And as a space enthusiast, I’m really glad I don’t have it.