Sunday, May 12, 2024


"I've decided I have poliphobia," Don said this morning.

The prefix "poli," according to this website, derives from ancient Greek πολύς (polús, "many, much"). Don decided to use this prefix to coin the new term "poliphobia," a fear of cities.

He does not have enochlophobia, a fear of crowds. Far from it. He's fine with people. Nor is he "afraid" of cities. But in the last few years, he has come to loathe and despise urban settings with a passion. Driving through anything more than rural two-lane roads sends his blood pressure skyward and his temper south.

"I didn't used to be this way," he explains. Like me, he's spent many years living in – and even enjoying – urban environments; but the older he gets, the less tolerance he has for such settings.

Why the change? When I asked him, he replied, "Too much sensory input. I've gotten so used to not having to be on the 'swivel' all the time. The odds of getting hit by a car where we live are practically nil. There are nuts in every crowd, but in larger populations, there are that many more nuts, many of them driving around."

This last observation derived, ironically enough, from a recent experience in which I was driving (and Don was in the passenger seat) on a dark, unfamiliar, winding rural highway. Two pickup trucks, both driving at high speeds, crowded up against my backside and tailgated me aggressively, even though I couldn't go any faster and they couldn't pass because of the curves. The moment they had the chance, both roared by me and even tried to outpace each other. They were out of sight within moments. It was a few minutes of sheer danger and stupidity caused by two dangerous and stupid drivers.

Now multiply these types of drivers in urban areas, and you get why Don now suffers from "poliphobia."

I'm okay in cities, at least for now. I don't like them any more than Don does, but at least I can drive in them without my blood pressure spiking. If an occasion calls where we both need to go to a city, I do the driving. If the occasion calls where an errand needs to happen in an urban environment, I'm the one who goes.

Frankly, I can see myself suffering from "poliphobia" at some point in the future. I'm not there yet, but I can see the warning signs on the horizon.

Poliphobia. The latest trendy medical self-diagnosis.


  1. How about politics. Poly meaning many, Tics are bloodsuckers.

  2. Patrice, I have lived in them for year now, not from choice but rather for work. I can completely appreciate Don's position - especially about inputs. Between cars, pedestrians, bicycles, and motorcycles, there is a lot going on any urban street anymore. Driving has become quite stressful.

  3. Don is right about too much sensory input.
    Living in the country you start tuning in to everything around you, and this is good. It's why you notice and photograph so many different beautiful birds, for an example.

    In the city you have to tune Out most of what's going on around you in order to do whatever you're doing. An example of that for me is an inability to sleep at one sisters nice home. I hear sirens all night, and traffic, and all sorts of alien unwelcome noises in my ears. She doesn't hear it because she tunes it out.
    Driving is another issue. In the country I can scan the sides of the roads. A deer hopping out and causing an accident is a real hazard. I can testify to 4 such accidents personally with deer and many more times almost with cows, one of which I was with someone else who was driving, their car was totaled, and the cow died. All of those accidents were at night and I quit going to church at night because of them. Pretty much quit night driving.
    In the city, you better focus on your one tiny little lane of many going one way at 10 mph at least over the speed limit, and also watch your mirrors to anticipate the actions of crazies around you. There are no cows or deer to run into the traffic and the roads at night are lit up like it's almost daytime. But the zillions of headlights are another problem to deal with for those of us comfortable in Po-dunk, USA.
    I grew up in a city too.
    Leaving was a good choice. I got my "senses" back and overloads of sensory perception frequently cause eruptions of Praise to our wonderous Creator!

  4. Riding with Tommy in the rain has terrified me! The streets are full of people all trying to get ahead. Now, I am afraid of rain and traffic. Practical Parsimony

    1. Amen to that!
      Today I had to keep an appointment in a town a ways away, and it was raining pretty hard. Thankfully, no traffic on that long stretch of highway. However, after hydroplaning twice from water in the road ruts within 3 miles from home, I settled on a new, constant way to drive in the downpour.
      Not recommending this, but it worked in the long straightways where I could see oncoming traffic. I drove with the left wheel on the median, the highest point in the road. A couple times another vehicle appeared a long ways off, and I slowed down to almost nothing and eased into the ruts.
      All of this was driving 20-30 mph under the speed limit. And even after leaving way early to make the appointment, just barely got there on time.
      We old folks gotta do what we need to do to stay safe and keep others safe.

  5. Thank God my daughter moved out of NYC several years ago. I'd be a total nervous wreck if she were still there. When visiting her, I could not wait until I was on the plane to go home. NYC has become more of a rathole and more depressing than ever.

  6. I like the new word, and I have had that for YEARS, LOL that is one of many reason's I/we avoid large cities at al costs, don't really care for crowds either most of the time many are just plain RUDE!

  7. Patrice,
    Great Post !!!! As we get older our reaction time slows down. Not to mention our ability to put up with other people's nonsense and/or disregard. When we turned 50 we decided to move to a "more" rural setting; recently paved two lane dead end dirt road on a ski sized lake. Lots of older neighbors who chose the "slower" life style. Church and "speed runs" for one-off items. Thank God for Fiber Internet, Zoom and Amazon!!!

  8. Harry says he understands completely. I had a lot of fun reading this to him. :)