Why People are Afraid of Thunder and Lightning

Everyone is afraid of something. For some people it’s spiders, for others heights, and the list goes on and on. These are known as ‘phobias’ and all people are affected by them. I found the fear of thunderstorms to be a peculiar one, which would need some research to understand. A common term used to define this fear of thunder and lightning is ‘astrophobia’.

Now, we must understand that most phobias are actually instinct, that our primitive ancestors needed to survive. In example, some are afraid of spiders and snakes, perhaps because they can carry deadly venom. Thunderstorms, however, are a different subject all together. On average, only 90 people out of over 400 million in the United States are killed by lightning each year. The odds of getting struck by lightning in a year’s time are believed to be over 400,000 to 1. And most people who get struck by lightning actually survive!

What is it about thunderstorms that make them so scary and frightening to so many? Is it the way the seemingly infinitely large sky is totally illuminated by a streak of raw power, beaming lights into our bedrooms at night? Or maybe it’s the roaring sonic boom that can shake houses for miles. What I find odd is that very few children and teens have actually seen firsthand the effects of lightning. I know that I personally haven’t, and neither has my neighbor who is 13 years old, and has to sleep with his parents during storms! He doesn’t know what they can do, he just knows that they’re loud and bright.

If I had to explain indirectly what a thunderstorm was, I’d say they’re like an angry fit of God. Which many early people believed it actually was. Most of us have heard of the Greek God Zeus, who was to be mentioned every time a play was performed in Athens. Zeus was the God of all Gods, and also the God of lightning. That’s no coincidence. The God of fire wasn’t the God of Gods, but rather the God of lightning. The Greeks viewed Thunderstorms as punishment from Zeus for failing to worship him. This shows that even early people had at least a slight fear of storms.

Again, I believe that the most likely reason that so many people are afraid of these storms (which I actually love to watch and hear!) is simply because it’s their instinct to be afraid if they see light shooting down from the sky and feel the roar from it pound at their chests. Who knows, maybe in the future people in general won’t be afraid of thunder and lightning because they’ve lost that now pointless instinct.