Fear of furniture

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, a Psychiatrist strip (Wayno’s title: “Out of Frame”):

(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)

And now we’re in the world of phobias, extreme or irrational fears of or aversions to particular things. People are exceptionally fond of finding or inventing unusual phobias — and, correspondingly, of finding or inventing unusual philias (attachments, especially sexually fetishistic attachments, to particular things).

Fear of furniture, as it turns out, is real but rare. There is even a celebrity afflicted with it.

A posting from Quora, which is not generally dependable as a source of information, but the report in it accords with other reports, and it introduces an entertaining piece of technical terminology: epiplaphobia, for fear of furniture (and in passing, cathedraphobia, for fear of chairs specifically, and argyrophobia,  for fear of silvery things).

From Quora on 7/22/17 from Paul Philips:

Furniture phobia (or epiplaphobia) as the name indicates is the extreme, irrational and often unwarranted fear of furniture. Some people might be afraid only of certain types of furniture; still others are specifically afraid only of antiques. One of the most famous celebrities having the extreme fear of antique furniture is Billy Bob Thornton, who, reportedly, is also afraid of silver ([a]rgyrophobia is the fear of silvery things, especially silverware. This phobia is usually triggered back in early childhood, e.g. by getting poked by a fork.) However, Billy claimed that his furniture phobia is greatly exaggerated since he can easily withstand chairs and tables. He is only afraid of antiques with carved lion/tiger heads or old drapes or French/English furniture with mildew. Basically, says the actor, he cannot stand “the stuff kings were around”. As a result of this phobia, he is known to refuse housing up in residences or hotels having stuff from before 1950.

A specific fear of chairs is known as [c]athedraphobia . [from Latin cathedra ‘seat’, itself from Greek kathédra ‘chair of a teacher, throne’]

These phobia names are based on classical, mostly Greek, roots. The other main option is just to dragoon an English word for combination with –phobia: as in the attested invention furniturephobia.

(I will get back to Billy Bob Thornton; I promise.)

epiplaphobia. I was baffled by the term, not recognizing the classical root in the first part. Eventually, I found it, but in a discussion of epiplaphilia.

From Dr Mark Griffiths’s WordPress blog, the posting “Seats of yearning: A brief look at ‘furniture sex’ and the naming of a new paraphilia” on 2/3/13:

What’s the first thing that comes into your head when you hear the words ‘furniture sex’? Maybe you think about people having sex on particular items of furniture? Maybe you think of specially designed ‘sexy furniture’ such as the items featured on the Pinterest website? Maybe you think about people displayed and used as pieces of human furniture (see my previous blog on forniphilia if you have no idea what I am talking about). There are also those who design bespoke furniture to enhance sexual pleasure. For instance, a recent article in The Frisky examined the ‘sex furniture’ designed by Josh and Jasmine whose entire house is furnished with sex furniture. According to the article “each piece [of furniture] supposedly accommodates multiple positions and enhances orgasm”.

The origin for this blog came when I read a September 2012 story in both the Smoking Gun and The Inquisitor about an American married man (46-year old Gerard Streator) who was accused of having sex with a yellow sofa that had been abandoned on the pavement in Waukesha (Wisconsin, US). At 11pm on September 3rd (2012), Streator had the misfortune to be spotted by an off-duty policeman (Officer Ryan Edwards), who saw Mr. Streator copulating with the sofa while he was out on a late night run. The police officer was quoted as seeing:

“A subject leaning over the couch facing down and it looked like he was having sexual relations with someone on the couch. [I] could see the male’s hips thrusting up and down on the couch [and] could see that the defendant’s penis was erect. [He] had been thrusting his pelvic area against the cushions and trying to sexually gratify himself by rubbing his penis between the two cushions. [He was] thrusting his hips as if he was having sex with a person”

The officer chased Mr. Streator back to the suspect’s apartment and was arrested the following day for the criminal misdemeanor at the County Springs Hotel where Streator worked. The article in The Inquisitor described Streator as a “couch fetishist” who engaged in “bizarre sexual conduct with the abandoned couch”. [other examples follow, all funny-sad, like this one]

… [the terminological payoff:] one of my research colleagues (from Greece) informed me that ‘epiplo’ is the singular for furniture and that ‘epipla’ is the plural. [AZ: well, apparently epiplo ‘furniture’ is a mass noun in Greek as in English, but there’s a corresponding plural epipla ‘furnishings, pieces of furniture’] I am therefore going to name those with a ‘furniture sex’ paraphilia as engaging in epiplophilia. Additionally, given that some individuals seem to only like seated furniture, I found out that the word ‘throne’ is of Greek origin (from the word ‘thronos’). Therefore, in the absence of any other names for paraphilias involving seated furniture, I hereby name this as ‘thronosphilia’ that I will operationally define not just as the gaining of sexual pleasure and arousal from furniture chairs and seating.

And then, if there’s epiplaphilia, there can also be epiplaphobia.

BBT. I could have sworn that I’d posted about Billy Bob Thornton before, but apparently not. He’s a premier member of what I’ve called the acting corps, of hard-working and talented (but often little-noticed) actors — except, of course, that he’s become a celebrity.

From Wikipedia:

(#2) From a 2014 story about his vegan diet

Billy Bob Thornton (born August 4, 1955) is an American actor, writer, director, and musician [whose credits include the movies Sling Blade (1996), Primary Colors (1998), Monster’s Ball (2001), Friday Night Lights (2004), and the tv series Fargo.]

He specializes in nuanced portrayals of strongly masculine characters. Worth watching.


One Response to “Fear of furniture”

  1. kenru Says:

    Thornton is very much “in” right now, being the star of the Prime streaming series “Goliath.” The first 2 seasons were excellent; but the recent third season was somewhat disappointingly diffuse. However, Billy Bob is outstanding, deserving of the best actor Golden Globe he received for the role. And apparently a 4th and final season is in the works.

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