Historical People with Phobias


Forum Staff
Oct 2009
Usamah ibn Munqidh was a 12th Century Arab soldier and diplomat. He relates with amusement in his memoirs that his uncle Izz ad-Din Sultan was a fearless warrior, but had a pathological fear of snakes. If he saw one he would flee the room and would refuse to return until somebody killed or removed the snake.

IIRC, Napoleon is supposed to have had an intense fear of cats, particularly their eyes. Who are some other historical figures that had strange pathological fears?
Jan 2008
Chile, Santiago
After he lost the use of his legs, Franklin D. Roosevelt developed an intense fear of house fires. His worry was that he would be in a burning building and that he would be unable to get out due to his disability. After he became president this led him to forbid the Secret Service from locking his bedroom door at night, and it also led him to spend sometimes hours at a time practicing rolling onto the ground and moving around using nothing but his arms to drag himself across the floor. He became quite good at it, and could move himself in this way from his rooms on the upper floor of the White House to an exit in a very short space of time. People close to him tried to assure him that this practice was unnecessary - that he would always have help avilable, but this simply depressed him. He hated the idea that he was dependent upon help like a child, and wanted to be able to show that he could look after himself, even though he was paralysed from the waist down.