SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Agoraphobia with a peniaphobic chaser, or the drunkenness of a sociopath’s power.


Welcome to another installment of SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS, a regular Wednesday feature at NA Confidential.

In April of 2016, we offered the word “agoraphobia” for Shane’s consideration. Today’s reprise (below) is occasioned by two occurrences.

First, I yet again caught myself mispronouncing “agoraphobia.”

It’s ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh, and if I owned a blackboard, I’d be standing there like Bart Simpson writing the pronunciation 100 times in the hope of getting it right in the future.

Second, someone asked me this seemingly unrelated question: Does Mayor Jeff Gahan possess a phobia about poor people?

You’ll be delighted (or saddened) to know that yes, there’s a word for this.


From the Greek πενία poverty and φόβος panic, fear
Related to Latin penuria (“poverty”)

peniaphobia … The fear of poverty and/or poor people.

Assuming a fear of poverty, one needn’t be a credentialed professional to surmise that for one to fear the condition of poverty might well presuppose a fear of those who are impoverished — or more likely, a sense of loathing toward them.

Especially if the poor can’t be relied upon to vote, and/or when the ground beneath their feet is deemed more valuable than the dignity of their existence, or somehow more cost effective than pursuing measures to help lift them from it.

11 Signs Your Mayor May Be A Sociopath, at Huffington Post.

This brings us back to agoraphobia, because throughout 2017, as Gahan has staged his hostile takeover (putsch) of public housing for the purpose of eliminating as much of it as he can, you’ll notice that he has refrained from speaking to residents of public housing, or those who’ll be impacted the most by his peniaphobia.

April 27, 2016

Today’s word is occasioned by an inquiry from a regular reader: “It seems that Mayor Gahan tries to avoid being in a position of spontaneity in a crowd. What do you think causes that?”

One possible explanation is agoraphobia.



“Fear of open spaces,” 1873, from German Agorophobie, coined 1871 by Berlin psychiatrist Carl Westphal (1833-1890) from Greek agora “open space” (see agora) + -phobia “fear.” Related: Agoraphobe; agoraphobic.

In ancient Greece, the agora was an open space in the city, used for assemblies, meetings and markets. The term agoraphobia doesn’t so much imply a fear of the open space itself, but fear of public spaces and crowds occupying them, because these cannot be controlled. If there is no control, panic ensues.

Note the pronunciation. It’s not a-GOR-a-foe-be-uh, and as such, is an example of a word I’ve often mispronounced.

Definition of Agoraphobia By Mayo Clinic Staff

Agoraphobia (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh) is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.

With agoraphobia, you fear an actual or anticipated situation, such as using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line or being in a crowd. The anxiety is caused by fear that there’s no easy way to escape or seek help if intense anxiety develops. Most people who have agoraphobia develop it after having one or more panic attacks, causing them to fear another attack and avoid the place where it occurred.

People with agoraphobia often have a hard time feeling safe in any public place, especially where crowds gather. You may feel that you need a companion, such as a relative or friend, to go with you to public places. The fears can be so overwhelming that you may feel unable to leave your home.

Agoraphobia treatment can be challenging because it usually means confronting your fears. But with talk therapy (psychotherapy) and medications, you can escape the trap of agoraphobia and live a more enjoyable life.

The Mayo Clinic definition contains several examples of the agoraphobia used in a sentence, but here’s another one:

I believe agoraphobia explains Mayor Jeff Gahan’s reluctance to attend city council meetings, as well as his tendency to avoid unscripted appearances.

And, for October 2017:

When it comes to Mayor Jeff Gahan’s complete absence of empathy for those who might lose their homes owing to his hostile takeover of public housing, agoraphobia and peniaphobia taken together comprise a toxic cocktail of the sort only Adam Dickey would willingly chug.