The fear of the unknown depths of the ocean, of deep waters and what may be lurking there. It’s not usually going to be a day to day issue, but when it hits it’s like the bottom has fallen out of your world and all that lies beneath you is a terror filled void
Thalassophobia is a huge component of the Lovecraft mythos, Howard himself being terrified of the sea. This simple primal fear is a large part of the wider puzzle that is Cosmic Horror, that feeling of being small and insignificant (not to mention helpless) led to fish people and lurking Old Ones. After all far beneath the waves, far away from the reach of the light, is where Cthulhu slumbers…
Speilberg’s Jaws is one of the most successful Summer blockbusters of all time, itself being THE first of these tentpole studio movies as we know them. This common phobia play of a giant hungry primeval throwback that can strike when we’re out of our element certainly struck a chord.
While hardly the first phobia to spring to mind, this one is a powerful one. Just lurking deep in the back of your brain, waiting to swallow you up.
Personally? I have a weird virtual Thalassophobia, I start to freak out if you stick me in water sections for videogames!
Read the previous edition of “Defining Fear” here!
Luke Greensmith is an active folklorist and big horror fan who also works in film across a few roles. While this can cover quite a wide range of things, he’s a dedicated horror fan at heart and pretty involved with horror communities both online and local to him. You can find their folklore work on the Ghost Story Guys Podcast, their own LukeLore podcast, and accompanying the artist Wanda Fraser’s Dark Arts series as well as on the Grimoire of Horror itself.