Experts define a phobia as an irrational, intense, persistent fear of certain situations, objects, activities or persons.
They say the main symptom of this disorder is the excessive, unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject.
When the fear is beyond one's control, or if the fear interferes with daily life, a diagnosis under one of the anxiety disorders can be made.
There are many phobias.
One of them is ranidaphobia - a fear of frogs - and it killed my brother-in-law. S'true.
Police inspector Rapula Joseph Moeng of Rustenburg was nicknamed Rocks because he was tough.
His younger brother Botshelo said Rocks was on sick leave and alone in his house at the time of his death.
Rocks was apparently trying to run a bath when he saw the frog. So scared was he that he fell into the bath and hit his head against the steel taps.
The family also think he might have suffered a heart attack from shock.
Few people will believe that this tough police officer, whose moniker Rocks actually means solid, might have died from the fear of frogs.
To dispel any notion of witchcraft, it is obvious that the past few weeks have seen many parts of the country being hit by torrential rains.
So it is logical that rainy seasons bring frogs and the amphibian inadvertently found itself in Rocks's house.
This is not about Rocks himself. I find people with phobias fascinating, especially because their fears can be so extreme as to be fatal.
Maybe I should share some of the phobias I gleaned.
Many might be aware of the common fear of confined spaces - claustrophobia.
Then there are those that are said to be stranger than fiction.
The fear of women, for instance, is described as gynophobia. Can you believe it?
There is also the fear of rooms, my gosh. It is called koinonophobia. The fear of the colour white is leukophobia, while those who panic when they see the colour black are melanophobic.
If you do not believe that such fears exist, go to www.about.com.
Meanwhile, did you know that there is also cacophobia - the fear of ugliness?
Parents, teachers and even the police, are inclined to suffer from ephebiphobia. If you don't know or or don't feel like hazarding a guess, let me tell you it's a fear of teenagers.
I should think this phobia can be exacerbated by the fear of school - scolionophobia.
There is a colleague in the newsroom who suffers from aphenphosmphobia, the fear of being touched, but downplays the condition.
But I certainly do not suffer from Venustrophobia, the fear of beautiful women. I think mageirocophobia might contribute to the high divorce rate since it is the fear of cooking.
So Rocks was not alone in his suffering.
May his soul rest in peace.