Ask The Fiddler #23: Overcoming a Fowl Fear

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Filed under: Satire

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


Dear Fiddler,

I am afraid of chickens. It's affecting my livelihood, can you help?

Harlan in KY

Dear Harlan,

I could really get into this if you had said giant chickens. They're featured in several B horror flicks. But realistically, the biggest actual chicken I've found weighs in at a mere 23 lbs. 3 oz., an Australian chap who has since gone off to the great roost in the sky.

ErnestGoh_Chicken_Thewalk-200Maybe you've got tucked away in your subconscious a nightmare memory of the great Tennessee Super Chicken hoax. I can't find any other reference to it, so perhaps the story was concocted on-site.

Is it perfectly reasonable to fear chickens? A California man was killed by a chicken in 2011. He was attending a cockfight. When it comes to inhumane treatment of animals, it's hard not to celebrate when the tormented creature strikes back.

Your malady is called Alektorophobia, the fear of chickens. It's rare, but obviously it exists because someone gave it a name. Wikipedia says: "People with alektorophobia tend to feel uneasy around chickens, or around certain places in which chickens are known to reside, such as farms. ... Some people scream, cry, have trouble breathing, have excessive sweating or even heart trouble when they come in contact with an area near chickens, or occasionally even eggs or feathers. In some extreme cases, even a picture or a realistic drawing of a chicken can also trigger fear."

It's related to Ornithophobia, fear of birds, and usually applies to live chickens, not dead ones.

Dead chickens can also be deadly. Dead chickens are $70 billion industry in the U.S. but now processing of U.S. chickens in China will be allowed, because China won't import U.S. beef without the trade-off. Critics are concerned not only about lost jobs but also health considerations. Food imported from China has at times been contaminated or excessively dosed with antibiotics and growth hormones.

Dead chickens can inflict various ailments. A major Salmonella outbreak last year was traced to chicken. It hospitalized many but there were no deaths. However, another dead chicken disease, Campylobacteriosis, kills around 75 people each year in the U.S. and makes life temporary hell for a lot more. An FDA inspection a few years back found Campylobacter bacterium on almost half of raw chicken breasts it tested in one program.

Chickens can also provide a dose of arsenic. Chris Hunt, a blogger on Huffington Post tells us chicken often contains that poison favored by little old ladies in British mysteries. "The study ... revealed that chickens likely raised with arsenic-based drugs yield meat that has higher levels of inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen that has also been associated with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cognitive deficits and adverse pregnancy outcomes." Apparently the addition of arsenic in chicken diets improves coloring, promotes growth and fights some diseases.

Perhaps the cure is in the query, after all, why should you fear something called chicken? This link will take you to a very lengthy and interesting discussion of derogatory use of the term. We learn that it may descend from Romans taunting Frenchmen. "Gallus is in fact the Latin word for chicken (rooster to be more specific) and also the name of the residents of Gaul, much of which is now France."

Do you really need to get rid of your phobia? Of course therapists make millions attempting cures, but what if our phobias have value as unique and interesting characteristics? They make you memorable, "Oh yeah, the guy who freaks over chickens."

Maybe it's a blessing. If it were my thing, I'd make the most of my natural born right to fear chickens.

But maybe it's debilitating. So, what if you just try for a little change? Think of chickens as weird instead of scary. Here are some weird chicken pictures from Cocks, the Chicken Book, that may help.
Yours Truly,

The Fiddler


Remember our motto here at camp: “If you take advice from The Fiddler, you need advice.” Send comments and questions to: Art of the Prank.


images: Cocks, the Chicken Book