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Joining the list of man’s phobias is ranidaphobia, otherwise known as the fear of frogs. Many people love holding the small and mostly harmless amphibious creatures. For others, the idea of grabbing onto a croaking monstrosity they view as slimy, creepy and gross is somewhat repulsive. Those suffering from ranidaphobia cannot stand being anywhere near a frog. For urban and suburban dwellers, the fear lies mostly dormant. They might not even be aware of the affliction until taking a journey to a wetlands area with an abundance of the hopping wonders.
Recently, David Beckham was branded a ‘wimp’ by noted traveler Michael Palin for his reluctance to go near a tree frog in Brazil, although left unclear is whether or not Beckham truly has ranidaphobia or his fear relates to the frog in question being poisonous. Some fears are rational, particularly when they relate to potentially poisonous creatures. Beckham was working on a documentary for the BBC. The idea was to send him to areas beyond the edge of civilization where his famous face is not recognized. His task is to explain professional soccer to those unfamiliar with the concept. Beckham noted his inexperience with explaining the game to others. His adoring legions already know him and his game. He said the only other time he tried to give an overview of the game was to his wife.
In one instance, an abundance of frogs in the vicinity of a ranidaphobia sufferer led to significant legal liability. A New York man living upstate sued a developer and his town because a new development caused his 40 acre property to become infested with frogs. Paul Marinaccio, Sr. was awarded $1.6 million by a jury based on the adjacent development turning his property into a wetland haven for the small amphibians. Marinaccio described his fear of frogs dating back to his boyhood in Italy. Apparently, he remained afraid of frogs after a frog waving vineyard owner chased him off his property. Marinaccio said the influx of frogs made him feel like a prisoner in his home. He was even afraid to go into the garage because frogs were waiting for him there. Although the ranidaphobia was part of the testimony, the jury did not breakdown its award into amounts specifically awarded for property destruction due to excess runoff and emotional distress from the frog proliferation. They did sympathize enough to award the man an additional $250,000 in punitive damages, which extra award was struck down on appeal.
Most cases of ranidaphobia relate to actual live frogs. Some people have severe cases in which even photos of the creatures cause heart palpitations and panic attack. To the extent someone has a severe enough case and decides to undergo treatment, therapists use behavior therapy to gradually expose the phobic person to the stimulus enough that the response is no longer as negative.
For most people who have a fear of frogs, the mild randidaphobia does not cause ridicule by Michael Palin or lead to large lawsuit awards. Those people merely avoid the amphibious creatures in the infrequent instances they are exposed. A frog panic attack is not something most people have to live with very often.
By William Costolo