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Phobia:Fear of Big Statues

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Facing My Fears

Finally! There is a name for the phobia that has plagued me all of my life. Automatonophobia is the fear of life-like statues, ventriloquist dummies, wax statues ( I am sure dolls and manequins are also included.) It is an affliction that, ironically, petrifies me. Seriously, I become what frightens me most.

In a situation where I come face to face with those cold, dead eyes "looking" back at me, I momentarily, become frozen with fear. I have trouble going forward into a room that may have one large statue, but I run away if I encounter a room with two or more statues. Museums are difficult for me, to say the least.

I lived in NY for most of my life and have visited the Art museum, possibly twice. I entered a hall that had heads and/or busts, on pedestals, so I was literally surrounded by the cold, lifeless eyes that were positioned, well, at eye level! I somehow left my group and had to find the area that merely had paintings.

When I was very young, the family went several times to Staten Island and we had to cross the river by ferry boat. Yes, we always had to pass the Statue of Liberty. Though she was big, she was far away enough for her presence not to bother me. In fact, it always fascinated me because I found it strange... I thought she was on some post that shot straight up from the water. ( I was an imaginative kid!)

The climb inside the 50 ft woman

The summer I was 11years old, I went on a field trip to visit Liberty Island. Oh, I discovered that there is an island and WOW! Is that Liberty Statue huge! Very, very big. As I got closer, my legs were turning into seaweed, but I had to go along with the group. We entered the base and were allowed to step onto the balcony ( I guess) While out there, someone said to look up. I did look up to see way above my head, a massive arm that held a large torch! Creepy image. It is an image I will never forget. But there are other images within the Statue of Liberty. So we re-enter the thing and proceed to go up, up in a spiral staircase. We were kids, so the climb and crampiness did not bother us. I was twitching when I realized that I could see the lines of the folds of her toga (?) and then the lines of her hairdo.from INSIDE. it is among my files of my nightmares.

The cure?

My mom's closest friend, was like an "aunt" to us and she wanted to cure me of my affliction. She was either trying to be helpful(???) or was simply sadistic. She was something of a collector of religious statues ( lucky me) which she kept in a small room. A room which may have doubled as a walk-in closet/ tomb. Yes, she did use that room to try to cure me, but it never worked, in fact I think it set me back, way back.

Yet another field trip

She took me to a place that had a garden on the outside and the building was cave-like on the inside. They call it a Grotto. The outside was bad enough with large angels all over the place. I cowered as I walked through there. Then, the "auntie" brought me into the cave-like structure. Sadistic? Yes! The inside was dark (of course) and the images were illuminated, life-sized statues of the religious kind, depicting the stations of the cross. Imagine the agony and passion of Christ, but set with statues. I am still having trouble trying to figure if it was art. They were painted, with all the gory details. I could not wait to run outside even if I had to dodge the angels! The Grotto, was in The Bronx, NY. I do not know if it is still there, because I never went back. But if anyone enjoys that kind of art and feels like venturing there, have fun.

Future sightings?

I am glad to know that I am not alone with this madness. I am even too frightened to get hypnotized...don't know what i might find out.

I have worked in several jobs and in one of them, I dressed mannequins. It did not bother me. It was a little bit like playing with dolls. I know in my heart, that I would not be able to be in a roomful of mannequins.

I have been to Washington, DC and visited several historic buildings. One of them, I believe it's The Capital, that features The Hall Of Presidents. Proudly, I did face my demons. Yes, you know where this is heading. While being educational, it is also daunting for someone who cannot be in such a setting.

I truly don't know if I will ever grow out of this fear, but I have faced my phobia on several other trips , and it is not as extreme as when I was a child.

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Gwendolyn Kindle on February 08, 2018:

I am so glad that I found others who have the same fear as I do. I truly understand what everyone is going through. I have never feared small statues and mannequins though. There is a statue in a park near my home that my husband would pass and it terrified me. Large statues looking down on me especially make me panic. My first memory of being terrified was as a little girl I saw this movie called “The Miracle”. Where a statue of Mary came alive and took the place of this young nun in the church who ran off to be with a bullfighter. It was the eeriest thing for me as a child. My other terrifying moment came when me and friends drove to New York when I was in my early 20’s and I saw the Statue of Liberty standing in the middle of the water holding that torch! I am truly terrified of her and other large statues. My family have been laughing at me for years about this, but the phobia is real for me. Happily my phobia has somewhat dissipated over the years and is not as severe as before.....however I am in my early 60’s now!!

Trish on May 23, 2017:

I specifically fear the statue of liberty...Gigantic, with cold green finish, chilling sightless eyes and spikes coming out of the head, star of several nightmares. I blanch and feel sick whenever it crops up on TV or in a movie (Planet of the Apes, for one. I don't mind dummies or mannequins. Mostly large statues, particularly the ones with sightless eyes. I think the Statue of David and The Pieta are beautiful. Tried to desensitize myself to the monster on Liberty Island. Viewed it from a distance, check. Took the ferry around it, check. Took the ferry to the island and got off. Looked up, saw a hideous huge arm...Very uncomfortable but survived, check. Went in, ugh. Started up the narrow stairway, came face to face with a horrid outrageously big knee, had a full-blown panic attack and clinging to the handrail, fought my way back down and out, never looking up but convinced it was looking down at me and would get me or fall on me! Never again!!! Back to square one. You can tell yourself you're irrational and other people can dismiss your fear or ridicule you but it's real

IhateStatuesSoFreakingMuch on May 21, 2017:

Hey, guys, good to know I'm not alone. Statues of all kinds scare me as hell. I like museums, so I don't get scared from antic sculptures, not much. But it gets uncomfortable when I see statue of my size on my eye-level, or bigger than me, especially in the parks.. I'm fascinated by those because they seem so real and powerful, but they are still extremely frightening. Really big statues don't scare me, though, because they are far away from me. What am I most afraid of are those fountains with human-like statues or faces spitting water. I just freak out. I freeze. They are sooo creepy. It's not like I'm loosing control, but I feel like they are gazing at me. When I'm with someone and have to act normal in the presence of things like that, I behave like anyone else would, but it gives me creeps. If I'm looking at the fountain and someone starts talking behind me, I just move away and move fast. Those faces, oh God... There is a place near my aunt's where she likes to go. There are ten faucets on the wall next to each other, they all have a shape of human faces: male faces with big scary eyes and with beards. Their mouths are wide-open pouring water. I remember my aunt took me there when I was little. Imagine a little girl seeing those cold barbaric eyes on her eye-level. I was frightened, but my aunt tried to cure me by making me wash my face there. I'm still afraid, but at least I'm able to control it now. When we walk there and I have to fill the bottle I always use the first faucet on the left, it is bad but not so bad as choosing the biggest one in the middle or the other ones, because I don't have to face numerous eyes gazing. I even have nightmares about statues and water all the time. Does anybody know why are we afraid of things like this? It's not just trauma from childhood, there is more to it, I'm sure.

Kimberly on October 08, 2016:

I've always been terrified of ginormous statues. I remember as a child seeing the old horror movie "Attack of the 50ft. Woman" and I think that's where it started for me.

Cynthia Sanchez on May 16, 2016:

I am happy to read that this fear is common among others. I have been ridiculed and have even been scared on purpose because others think it is so funny to see how petrified I am. I can hardly breath with the fear within me that I hyperventilate and pass out. I cracked my skull once. if anyone has any answers on something that helped please share. i have carried this fear for over 35 years.

Kebrina Evans on September 17, 2015:

I am scared of staues as well. Just the thought of them frighten me. I even had a miscarriage after seeing a statue. I wish i could get over this fear. Im scared to travel for that reason.

Jorge on August 20, 2015:

After years and me facing my demons several times I think I've been able to sort of break away from the fear of damn statues. I've traveled to many places around the globe and statues are simply something you can't escape. My biggest fears are the religious statues, but over the years I've been able to overcome and even curve my fear somewhat. Vienna was particularly difficult to walk around, in particular the Spanish Riding School had many statues that made me nervous. Several other sites in the city really tested my will over and over. I haven't let the fear defeat me to the point that I can't visit or go somewhere, my adventurous side wont leave call it quits.

Jeanne on May 27, 2015:

I am deathly afraid of statues.We're is the help for us.

Alexandra on April 15, 2015:

I'm so happy I found this thread! I've thought for so long I'm the only one with this phobia. Religious statues and most larger than life statues of humans terrify me. I've just gotten engaged and my fiancé wants to go to Rome for the honeymoon but I know it'd just be hell for me. I discovered my phobia when I was 10 on holiday in Paris with my family, and had a massive panic attack outside the Notre Dame. I really want to get over my fear, but at the same time I cant ever imagine wanting to look at statues they scare me that much.

Kimberly on April 01, 2015:

I will nevet visit the House on the Rock!!!!!!!!

Creepy beyond words! Giant winged carousel horses and ginormous angels. Way too freaky for me.

Philip B on February 19, 2015:

wow, so glad i'm not the one with this phobia. I live in San Francisco and theres statues almost everywhere in the city. When i tell people about my phobia they think im crzy or weird. If they only know the feeling. Sometimes i get nightmares being surrounded by huge scarey statues.

Zabbella (author) from NJ-USA on February 19, 2015:

Thank you for commenting. I am now very aware that I am in good company! It did not help me much when as a kid in The Bronx (NY), we rode the Elevated Trains, ( the 3rd Ave EL) and it would screech as it made its turn around the old courthouse....which featured a LARGER THAN LIFE statue of as blind-folded Justice!!! Just Great! I have sound effects to add to my torture!

vondora on February 18, 2015:

wow i feel the same i probably would just drop to my knees and shield my eyes,,i get drained and this fear is so great it almost makes me sick light headed as if i'm gonna fall out

Israel on February 17, 2015:

I am an artist as a hobby not as a profession, and sometime I sculp. Just imagine your own art freaking you out. I found out when I was a kid after I made a painting. I had a small frozen fealing after looking into the eyes. Then I made a sculpture and really ran from it after it was completed. Good thing my family is Christian but not Catholic. I would die in church. I can walk up to them and touch them even if they are life size, but i think that is just my young man pride. As soon as i am done I run like crazy. I almost feel as if they are following me. And I am only afraid of life size ones. I confirmed this phobia as an adult when I had a dream of walking into a room full of statues on the ceiling. I could not even look up. Keep pushing and go slowly. I understand the fear.

vondora on February 17, 2015:

i have that fear it started when i was about 7

Scared too in Texas on November 30, 2013:

I am so happy to hear this too. I have been scared too my whole life. I thought, being afraid of religious statues, what is wrong! I love The Lord! I love Jesus! I understand he died on the cross, is there something bad with me spiritually? I also wonder how these sculptors did there work and make them so real. I also have a child like fear that they will some how animate and become real. The statue of Moses really scares me. This is nuts to think this! But even some pictures of statues freak me out...yet I study them and they draw me in

Zabbella (author) from NJ-USA on September 27, 2013:

Thank you for visiting Kiki. I read your comment and could not help but wonder if it was Divine Intervention that caused the trip to be cancelled. I think God heard your prayers!

Kiki on September 26, 2013:

I'm so glad other people out there struggle with this phobia. I've dealt with it since childhood, and it's never gotten any better. Religious statues are the worst (I have a hard time with a lot of religious imagery, despite being devout), but all statues of humans terrify me. I couldn't even go to the Statue of Liberty when I was in New York, and when I looked at it I had to throw up over the side of the Ellis Island Ferry. I'm in an art class this semester and we were going to be required to go to this statue exhibit at an art museum in town, and I almost dropped the class over it. How do you explain to your Art and Culture prof that you're too terrified of statues to fulfill a requirement for class. Thankfully, for a few different reasons the trip is no longer happening.

Zabbella (author) from NJ-USA on March 12, 2013:

Thank you for visiting. When I wrote it, I was not aware that so many people suffered with this. I am glad to know that this gives folks some comfort.

pharv1 on March 12, 2013:

I have this same phobia and it is very real and very scary. Many people do not understand it and they try to "cure" you. I have had this fear as long as I can remember and am glad to know I am not alone! Thank you for writing about your fear I thought you were talking about me.

Sophia on February 26, 2013:

Wow! i thought i was the only person in the world with this fear! i as well have a phobia of statues. and yes it is VERY hard and you miss out on so much because of it! The feeling you get when near one is horrid! im still trying to get over it as well and so far no progress it truly does suck :/

Natasha on September 12, 2012:

I decided to do a search on my fear of statues and came across your page. I knew I wasn't alone but I wish I knew how to get rid of my fear. I remember driving past an old abandoned horse park and there were these HUGE statues of horses and coachmen - I almost DIED! The bad part is that I was lost and the only way to get back to the main hwy was to pass those statues again. That was not a good day. I am also afraid of large object such as airplanes. Just looking at Terracotta's army on google gives me the a queasy stomach.

Zabbella (author) from NJ-USA on August 30, 2012:

@ Jean...My daughter ( she is an adult now) has told me that she has a fear of large things such as big..very big Balloons. Like at an amusement park where they have the balloon scares her. She said she had an awful experience in one of those things, and it scares her to even look at a giant,promotional Balloon.

Zabbella (author) from NJ-USA on August 30, 2012:

Mr Japan, Thank you for that..You were absolutely correct. I looked it up (my curiosity got the better of me) now I know for sure, that I will not visit Rome in this lifetime.

Zabbella (author) from NJ-USA on August 30, 2012:

Michelle,It's funny that you say that you ask for someone to go with you. I do the same thing, if I know the structure (or office building) contains a statue, I usually ask for someone to enter with me, this way that person can stand between me and...."it".

Zabbella (author) from NJ-USA on August 30, 2012:

Michelle,It's funny that you say that you ask for someone to go with you. I do the same thing, if I know the structure (or office building) contains a statue, I usually ask for someone to enter with me, this way that person can stand between me and...."it".

Michelle on August 30, 2012:

I am truly glad that I am not the only one who has this phobia. Since I was a child, I have been afraid of large statues. I grew up in upstate New York, in Lewiston, NY there is the Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima. Very large statue of the Virgin Mary that overlooks the entire park. Very beautiful, peaceful and for me scary. I can only stay for no more than an hour or 2. I have climbed the stairs to the statue and cannot go all the way up by myself. I have to have someone with me. I have never been soooooo frightened. I want to come to peace with this phobia, how can I when even I Google the pictures, I get very nervous?

Sananda Nag on August 24, 2012:

Hi iam 4rm india, i dnt knw y after so many years of dealing wth ths phobia i decided 2 google abt it 2day!!! thank u sooo mch 4 ur infrmatn, as u must knw tht india is a country of so many religions n festivals, tht is th worst tym 4 me bcz ppl thnk making a huge idol is th best!!! do u thnk it myt have any connectn with our past lyf?? thanx again.

Jean on July 29, 2012:

Hi, I came across this sight and am glad to know there are others with this phobia. I get laughed at a lot. It doesn't help that I also have Taxidermaphobia (the fear of taxidermied animals) and Megalophobia(fear of large objects, all kinds) Sometimes I feel trapped. There are so many places I am afraid of, and places I just wouldn't dream of going to. The statue part for me is anything that is probably 1 f00t or larger. I also would never dream of going near a wax museum, the thought makes me shiver. Though, I am okay with normal looking mannequins, just as long as they are in a store (when they are somewhere odd where they shouldn't be it scares me) and if there is nothing out of the ordinary about them. We are going to the zoo next month and I am afraid because I know somewhere there will be an animal statue, there are always some animal statues at zoos, I hate that! I am trying to gear up for it starting now, but I am extremely afraid of buffalo, so I keep thinking about that! Oh dear, I am a mess, when I think about what I am writing, I really sound like I am nuts!!

DeliriousEpiphany on May 07, 2012:

Yay now I can finally put a name to my fear. I am thankful to never have had quite as horrible of an expierence. but the first time I relized that I am obsolutely terrified of statues was when we went to a college trip with my high school class. In edgewood college, the base floor has this huge status, too big in my opinion.It was this ladies head, just the head on a pedistal and she was staring right at me. I literally stoped and looked away. I couldn't look straight at it, or be anywhere near it. I had this uneasyness feeling and wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. I stood firmly near the door , ready to exit at any moment. when I told my friends, because they noticed, I told them,I was scared, they laughed. when the tour guided finally moved on to the next room, I walked all the way around the statue, no where near. and boy was I glad to get out of there. !small figurence, I don't mind but large, ones, like the statue of liberty. I applaude you Zabbella for going up there. I think I would have cowerd at her feet and retreated to a fetal position.

Zabbella (author) from NJ-USA on March 04, 2012:

Mr Japan, Thank you for that..You were absolutely correct. I looked it up (my curiosity got the better of me) now I know for sure, that I will not visit Rome in this lifetime.

MrJapan on February 25, 2012:

You think that's Bad? See the fontana del panethon! that shit is some serious nightmare fuel!

ChemHate on February 12, 2012:

I also have this phobia, and it is awful; I recall one harrowing time when we visited a graveyard in New Orleans. The tiny mausoleums were fine, but there was one GIANT one with angels ALL OVER IT. Over the doors and everything. I didn't get closer than maybe 30 feet, but it was STILL really awful.

Also, that Dr. Who episode with the angels. Seriously.

Marta on January 23, 2012:

I AM SO RELIEVED I AM NOT ALONE!!!!!!!!! I fear entering Catholic churches because of the religious statues. I am afraid of statues depending on their size and type. If it is a life size or bigger religious statue or even a painting my hearts starts pumping real fast and my hands get cold; I simply freeze. I could never enter the Sistine Chapel... Also some Renaissance time paintings freak me out. I have never met anyone like me. As an adult I have made myself to confront these fears but I have not been successful yet. Incredibly though, I was able to look and get into the Statue of Liberty but I get scared just imagining seeing the Christ of Los Andes...

Alycia on December 16, 2011:

Hi Zabella,

I am SO very glad you wrote of your fear of statues -- I have the very same phobia and have kind of ashamed for years because I didn't think anyone else experienced this fear. It's wonderful to know I'm not alone! And like your aunt, my mother tried to "cure" me by basically holding me hostage next to a large statue of George Washington on a horse near where we lived at the time (I also grew up in NYC). It was bad enough I had to pass this thing every day to and from school, but when walking with my sister, I could always cross the street. I guess this one day, walking past it with my mother, she decided crossing the street was not an option and she was going to "make" me overcome my fear. Like you said, it only set me back further. I think my love of art has lessened the fear somewhat, but I have to take it in small doses. Thanks for sharing your story. I truly appreciate it.

Zabbella (author) from NJ-USA on November 20, 2011:

Yes, even Close-up pictures of Michelangelo's sculpture "David" frighten and intrigue me at the same time. It is a beautiful piece of art, but I cannot get past his eyes.

jonathan on November 19, 2011:

i have the exact same phobia as u do i cant be around any statue that's bigger than me or even pictures or paintings depending on what they are, the only time my fear didn't bother me it was when i saw an ancient egyptian exhibition in times square and it had alot statues and huge coffins but it didn't bother me because i love those things so i guess the like i have for ancient egypt beats my phobia but on everything else its the same thing

Zabbella (author) from NJ-USA on October 15, 2011:

Hi Sylvia, Yep that Hall of Presidents is too much for me to handle. And yes, those big dome ceilings come with the package. (Probably because the usual places that have those ceilings also contain statues.)

Sylvia on October 14, 2011:

I have thought for so long that I must be the only person with this phobia.....I'm 63 yrs. old and have had this fear my entire life. Like you I visited Washington D.C. yrs. ago. The Hall of Presidents still gives me horrors. I have had nightmares that a Big statue in the city next to where I live of Hannibal Hamlin is in a small park there...he sort of comes to life.....he's cast in bronze I believe....and he's chasing me. I have never forgotten that nightmare. It's horrible...if you don't have this phobia, you could not understand how it scares you so. Any place that has high cavernous ceilings is a part of my phobia too!!!!!!

Zabbella (author) from NJ-USA on October 12, 2011:

Thank you, Random, I would probably NEVER go to Rome because there are so many statues there!

Random Person on October 12, 2011:

Hey, i too am petrified of statues they scare the living hell out of me and i'm not even going to try to face them!

I am also scared of dummys but for some reason manniquins you tend to find in clothes stores do not seem to bother me i think its just because of the lack of features.

I guess what really gets me about statues is just how they have so many details and they are kind of big and threating specially those eyes i hate them. I don't mind statues that are smaller than me and i don't normanally have a problem with like animal stautues that aren't doubled in size, so it is quite strange.

Musems are hard for me too and as i love them makes my phobia so inconveint. My worst childhood memory i think was when i went on holiday and we went to the local swimming pool which had a hindu/indian theme. And well you can imagine all those hindu statues with all the different arms and stuff it was horrible.

I also dream to live in Rome one day but think i may need therapy before i move there as Rome is full of statues!

Anyway good luck with your phobia hope it improves.

Lyn.Stewart from Auckland, New Zealand on September 16, 2011:

I totally understand ... Many people don't know the stress you go through before you even leave your home just by knowing there is going to be a statue where your going. That is why I suggest doing this process as gently as possible as in time that stress will dissapate at least for the area you do this for and therefore you will have less stress when going other places.

Having someone who will support you and not make fun of your fear with you during this process will help to make you feel safer and calmer quicker so pick your support person carefully and good luck.

Zabbella (author) from NJ-USA on September 16, 2011:

Oh Lyn, thank you for the advice! (getting a little choked up here) I mean it sincerely,I have tried get more exposure to them gradually. Sometimes it is quite embarrassing in public.

Lyn.Stewart from Auckland, New Zealand on September 16, 2011:

good on you for facing your fears so many times ... Keep doing it but gently (maybe once every 2 months) and you will find that it isn't as hard after a couple of years or maybe less. Dont go to the places that truly scare you just to somewhere that is peacefull yet has maybe one of these statues. Also you don't need to get close you just need to be able to look at it for a minute or two with a supportive person. then go and have a picnic or something in the general area but where the statue is no longer visable.

I time you may be able to have the picnic (when your ready and it no longer causes you undue stress) in view of the statue.

voted up and interesting and thanks for sharing ... Ride on the backs of Dragons ~ Face your fears and do it anyways

mythicalstorm273 on September 15, 2011:

Wow! That is intense. I hope you somehow manage to shake this phobia. So many amazing places and things to do have some sort of statue and I believe it would be a shame to miss those things because of a fear like this. I hope you still get to enjoy your life fully though!! I know so many people get bogged down by the phobia that life actually gets in the way. I wish you the best of luck with this!! Once again INTENSE.

miles heath on September 15, 2011:

I have a slight sadistic streak apparently as I'm the one who took her to the popular Asian-fusion restaurant and laughed all the way to the nearest department store with a public bathroom

Zabbella (author) from NJ-USA on September 15, 2011:

Thank you for the nice comment. I had forgotten about another incident that happened a few short years ago. I should have known better when we entered this Asian/fusion restaurant that had giant horses flanking the entry. Inside, there were ancient warriors, very nice décor. I ate my meal and needed to go to the restroom...but the darkened hall featured another large warrior. I "held my water"...until we got to the nearest dept. store.

mythicalstorm273 on September 15, 2011:

This was quite interesting. I am fascinated by phobias! Not just by the names but what they do to people. I am sorry to hear this phobia plagues you, but the experience you have written about is truly fascinating!

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