Diplophobia (fear of double vision)


Technophobia (fear of technology)

An estimated 18% of the United States adult public suffers from a diagnosable anxiety disorder. 8.7% have specific phobias, including common ones like claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces), agoraphobia (fear of crowded or open public spaces), or acrophobia (fear of heights).

There are also those ailed by more peculiar phobias, often centered around particular objects. In collaboration with VSCO, collage artist David Delruelle selected a group of these rare fears to illustrate in black and white.

The artist was given ten days to complete a set of eight images, each based around one specific diagnosable phobia.

Delruelle himself has not fallen prey to anxiety, but tasked with getting inside the mind of those who have, he did grow to understand a bit why someone might fear seemingly mundane items. Although he had great fun with the project from start to finish, he was able to relate to trypophobia (fear of holes). “I have to say I find them pretty disturbing,” the artist says.

If Delruelle’s images have a Alfred Hitchcock/Rod Serling vibe to them, it’s not only because of the chosen subject. The pictures are made using archived imagery from the 1950s and 1960s, an era in which popular culture was colored by ongoing paranoia surrounding the rise of communism abroad and the United States’ gradual departure from organized religion into secular spiritualism.

Given the tight deadline, the artist was consumed by the project and stayed up nights pouring over vintage images and dreaming up surreal scenarios in Photoshop. The one that challenged him the most, he says, was koumpounophobia; he had to get creative to make buttons seem frightening.

Most phobias will manifest themselves by the time a child is seven years old. One of the most effective treatments is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and more specifically exposure and response prevention, a method by which the patient repeatedly confronts whatever it is they fear. With time and continued exposure, the symptoms of panic—racing heart, cold sweats, shortness of breath—abate.

Delruelle’s work, is in a way, like Serling’s and Hitchcock’s, a kind of exposure therapy. It’s not only about the anxiety disorders that ruin lives but also about the quiet but persistent and nagging unease that follows us all as we go about our daily lives. Maybe, when faced head-on, our fears can be quieted, at least for a little while.

Phobias by David Delruelle is part of cyclopedia by VSCO.


Trypophobia (fear of holes)


Koumpounophobia (fear of buttons)


Chronomentrophobia (fear of clocks)


Chaetophobia (fear of hair)


Philemaphobia (fear of kissing)


Catoptrophobia (fear of mirrors)

All images © David Delruelle

Read this next: Picture Anxiety Through the Lens of Five Photographers

Discover More