To this day, there exists general dismay towards fungi of all sorts. Why is that so and where did the fear of Mushrooms originate? Find out more about Mycophobia in this article.
The word Mycophobia derives from the Greek and translates as ‘myco’, meaning fungus and ‘phobia’, meaning fear. Therefore the name is translated as fear of fungi. People who suffer from this phobia are usually afraid of consuming Mushrooms that are poisonous and will not touch or eat Mushrooms.
It was the British
Of course, it is impossible and illogical to blame the existence of Mycophobia on the British. But in the 17th century, Mushrooms were considered to be dirty and not part of high-class British cuisine.
In 1630, the British physician Tobias Venner called Mushrooms the ‘Excrements of the Earth’, suggesting a rather negative stance towards Mushrooms in British society.
Another 17th-century physician, Stephen Bradwell, warned readers about consuming Mushrooms because they could potentially be poisonous and therefore deadly.
While not every country in the world shared that view, it is representative of the early dislike of Mushrooms in Europe.
It’s in the looks
Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. That could not be more true for Mushrooms. While some consider fungi diverse, beautiful and unique, some people find them repulsive. Some types of Mushrooms like the Octopus Stinkhorn look somewhat extraterrestrial and can be a turn-off. Some Mushrooms like the famous Fly Amanita are colourful but look poisonous, earning the nickname ‘toadstool’ in many European fairytales.
The full potential
Contemporary science has proven that Mushrooms have healing potential. Let us look at Chaga Mushrooms for example. Crowned the ‘King of Mushrooms’, Chaga has been used in the East because of its numerous health benefits for centuries.
Mushrooms like Lion’s Mane have been called a superfood because of its potential to support cognitive functions.
Of course, it is difficult to celebrate a plant that grows out of dung and decaying wood but it becomes clear that the view of Mushrooms has changed over the last decades. Instead of fearing them, people are becoming more interested and curious. Mycophobia, in general, is an irrational fear like many other phobias.
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