They have beady little eyes that never seem to blink and they watch every movement you make as you draw near. Eventually you are surrounded on all sides by these menacing creatures, some with mud-matted plumage, others deformed by patches of missing feathers, and all filling the air with alien-sounding throaty noises. Then they advance on you, slowly at first, then running, then awkwardly flying with their talon-tipped claws stretching out to tear your flesh. You drop the egg basket, fall to the ground and cover your face with your hands. They swarm over your body and peck at your hands with their sharp beaks insistently, relentlessly—but you know that if you move your hands away they will be ravenously pecking your eyes!
Have you ever had this experience while gathering eggs? Probably not. Have you ever had these thoughts? If you have, you may suffer from alektorophobia, a fear of chickens. No study has ever been conducted to find out how frequently this phenomenon occurs, but from a variety of anecdotal, personal accounts and from people seeking help from mental-health professionals, its obviously a real thing.
|My wife, Kathy, created this piece for an art class. What does it mean? Who knows! Is she a closet alektorophobe? Um….probably not.|
Film producer/director Werner Herzog, a likely alektorophobe, has said that looking into a chicken’s eyes is horrific because it is like looking into an empty void. He used a dancing chicken to convey a mood of hopelessness and despair in the final moments of his 1977 film Stroszek. Shannon Elizabeth, who has appeared in any number of horror films, including Thirteen Ghosts, Cursed, and Night of the Demons, finds real-life horror in the thought of being attacked by chickens.
Since I have raised most of my chickens from fluffy babies, pick them up and pet them while I’m in the coop, and am mobbed by them entirely because they are looking for treats, I have great difficulty understanding why anybody would find chickens frightening. Emile the rooster attacks me sometimes if he thinks I’m causing problems with his hens, but since I happen to outweigh him by a gazillion percent, and loom over this bantam roo, I find his attacks more comical than frightening. I usually respond to his attacks by picking him up, petting him, and telling him to calm down. When I set him down he generally walks away a totally embarrassed and deflated rooster.
I understand that fear is not a rational thing. I’m uncomfortable in high places. Other people fear chickens. Some alektorophobes can describe a traumatic childhood experience involving chickens, but many can’t pinpoint any exact event, and some have never even been in contact with chickens. General symptoms of alektorophobia include panic attacks, nausea, and gastrointestinal distress prior to a situation where chickens may be encountered, or sometimes when just thinking about chickens. Other symptoms include physical manifestations of fear, such as dry mouth, sweating, trembling, and difficulty breathing. Treatments include medication, hypnotherapy, and behavior therapy.
And while I do understand that fear is not rational, I would just like to announce to any alektorophobes who may be reading this blog post that all my chickens are sweet and lovable and will not hurt you!
[This post has been shared on Clever Chicks Blog Hop # 224]