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Financial phobia

British newspapers have employed this phrase frequently, as well as variations such as fiscal phobia, ever since a report from researchers at Cambridge University appeared at the end of January. The researchers claim to have identified a psychological condition in which some nine million people in Britain have a morbid fear of coping with their financial affairs, to the extent of never reading their bank statements or replying to letters about their personal finances. The researchers argue they’re not feckless spendthrifts, but otherwise sane and rational people who have got themselves into a state in which they can’t deal with such matters sensibly. The cause often seems to be some financial upset outside the person’s control that triggers a complete aversion to everything connected with money. A person who is suffering from the state is said to be a financial phobe.

The highest levels of financial phobia are found among younger age groups, with 30 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds suffering from the condition and 26 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds. Women are more likely to suffer from the condition than men.

Birmingham Post, Feb. 2003

I’m talking financial phobia. It’s official. Researchers at the Social and Political Science faculty at Cambridge University have discovered that 20 per cent of the population is affected with FP. Yes, about 10 million people greet the appearance of a bank statement on the doormat as they might react to a hand grenade: they’d like to get rid of it, but they’d rather not touch it, so they just ignore it.

Independent, Jan. 2003

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 22 Feb. 2003

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 22 February 2003.