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English Mom Terrified of Tableware: What Scares Her Most?

(CBS) She'd cut it out if she could, but Zoe Ingleson says she can't control her morbid fear of metal cutlery.

The 34-year-old Englishwoman has spent the last two decades dreading mealtimes and insisting on using only plastic cutlery, the Daily Mail reported. She even eats at a separate table from her four children and partner, Phil, turning her back to avoid seeing a metal knife or fork.

Spoons? They're no good either. Even the sound of a spoon scraping on a bowl is enough to trigger cold sweat and a panic attack, says Ingleson, who lives in Bradford, Yorks.

"It's totally embarrassing," she told the paper. "People look at me like I'm completely stupid or taking the mick out of them - but I just can't get over my fear of them. Some people have irrational phobias of snakes or spiders - but for me it's cutlery. When I see a metal knife and fork on the table, it might as well be a tarantula.

Ingleson says she's been cutlery-phobic since striking a new filling with a fork when she was 17. She may be right. Most phobias arise during adolescence or early adulthood, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. Typically, the phobia's onset is sudden, occurring in situations that previously hadn't been the source of any anxiety.

While fear of cutlery might seem a bizarre phobia, it's not the only one. Other common phobias include fear of animals, insects, heights, thunder, driving, public transportation, flying, dental or medical procedures, and elevators, the association says.

The good news is that phobias can often be controlled with psychotherapy and certain drugs, including antidepressants and antianxiety medications. No word on whether Ingleson has sought professional help, but she's not about to let her fear completely derail her life.

Next year she and Phil are getting married. The prospect of a sit-down dinner after the ceremony unnerved her - the sight and sound of all those knives and forks. But she says she came up with a solution.

She's serving finger food.

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