The fear of vomiting, which for me is one of the most original and most acute of my fears, is actually fairly common. Emetophobia, it’s called, and by some estimates, it’s the fifth most common specific phobia. …
Both in terms of the duration of the time that I’ve suffered from it and its intermittent acuteness, [it’s] the emetophobia [that causes the most suffering]. It infects … many of my other fears. For instance, the fear of vomiting, it makes me afraid of travel because I’m afraid I’ll vomit far from home. It makes me afraid of flying not for the conventional reason that I’m afraid that the plane will crash, although I also have that, but I’m afraid I’ll get motion sick and get nauseous. … The fear of germs is obviously directly tied to that. The horrible kind of self-fulfilling vicious cycle of emetophobia is that if you’re prone to acute anxiety and nervousness, as I am, it often manifests itself with stomach symptoms.
… I haven’t [vomited] since … 1977, March 18.
… With the rational part of my brain I realize how completely irrational this is. I mean, the amount of time since I was 7 years old that I’ve spent worrying about something … that I’ve spent 0 percent of the last 30 some odd years doing, it makes no sense. I know it makes no sense, and yet here I am.
You can hear and read more about Stossel’s experience with anxiety and read a chapter of his book on our program page.