Fear Hierarchy, by Jan Pettit


Fears: Ranked from childhood through parenthood

(with thanks to Ray Federman)

1. Fear of the dark

Under the bed.
Inside the closet.
Between leap and landing (floor to bed).
(Related) Long arm reaching out from under bed.

2. Fear of separation

Lost in a crowd (accidental).
Lost in a crowd (on purpose).
Lost in the woods (either).

3. Fear of abandonment

Parents dying.
Parents divorcing.
One parent moving.
Parents remarrying.

4. Fear of wicked stepparent
5. Fear of pee accidents

In school.
In bed.
In friend’s bed.

6. Fear of bras

Needing one.
Not needing one.
Anyone looking closely enough to know.

7. Fear of menstrual period

Getting it.
Not getting it.
Surprise attack.

8. Fear of embarassment

Wrong clothes.
Wrong hair.
Wrong glasses.
Wrong body.
Wrong mother.

9. Fear of Getting Pregnant
10. Fear of rejection

By friends.
By boyfriend.
By colleges.

11. Fear of being found out
12. Fear of not getting work

Not paying student loans.
Not paying bills.

13. Fear of selling out

Deserting dreams.
Embracing capitalism.

14. Fear of the dark (continued)

Parking lots at night.
Deserted streets at night.
Apartments at night.
Houses at night.
Bedrooms at night.

15. Fear of rejection (continued)

By lovers.
By bosses.
By friends.

16. Fear of being unloved
17. Fear of being unlovable
18. Fear of having married the wrong person
19. Fear of not getting pregnant
20. Fear of mortality

Parents’ mortality.
Spouse’s mortality.
Signs of mortality.
Cancer.

21. Fear of childbirth
22. Fear of losing a child

To crib death.
To falling down stairs.
To a head injury.
To bathtub.
To a bicycle accident.
To a car accident.
To a playground accident.
To a freak accident.
To pneumonia.
To cancer.
To a thousand kinds of cancer.
To a pedophile.
To a kidnapper.
To a babysitter.
To a stranger.
To a tick bite.
To a bad heart.
To thin ice.
To a swimming pool.
To falling rocks.
To drugs.
To gun violence.
To poor judgment.
To sport.
To a dare.
To driving.
To driving drunk.
To heartbreak.
To childbirth.

—Jan Pettit

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