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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A nationally known North Texan is revealing a secret he’s harbored most of his life. Ironically, his hidden fears have driven the charitable giving this man is known for.

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We are talking about author, philanthropist, t-v commentator and professor – Allan Saxe.

Saxe gave away his family fortune to charitable causes and caused a national stir. And somehow he’s managed all of this while harboring a deep secret most of his life — until now.

“I’m afraid of everything,” Allan Saxe confided.

Generations of students have heard Saxe’s political science lectures at UTA.  But hardly anyone knows the secret battle he wages every day. Or why, as he speaks to his class, he’s clutching the podium.  He is terrified.

“I’ve been teaching for 52 years and even today when I look at my hand there is perspiration all over it,” he said.

Everyday Saxe walks a path defined by a long list of phobias. “It’s pretty much of a secret,” Saxe said.  “But no one knows how bad it is. How really bad it is.”

“These are fears they have that they usually don’t confess to anybody else,” psychologist Dr. Sylvia Gearing said.  “And because they’re so isolated they really don’t resolve that fear.”

Saxe cannot use the elevator to go from his office down to the classrooms on the first floor. “I use an elevator once every two or three years,” Saxe said.  “And that’s only if it is a necessity and if there are a lot of people with me.” Instead, he climbs up and down four flights of stairs even though he fears stairs, too.

“I don’t like driving,” Saxe confessed. The only time Saxe usually drives it is to and from work, very cautiously and slowly on side streets. If he wants to go somewhere other than work somebody else has to drive. “And if people can’t pick me up I don’t go,” Saxe said.

And that’s just the beginning. While talking with us, this is what Saxe said about his fears.

“I’m a former president years ago of the Humane Society of North Texas in Fort Worth and I’m afraid of animals.”

“I’m afraid to fly.

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“I’m afraid of deep water.”

“Today, I’ve washed my hands probably 20 times and it is only 2:30 in the afternoon.”

“I’m afraid to go places and do things,” Saxe said.  “And I’ve missed a lot of opportunities.  A lot of them.”

Saxe gained national fame when he gave his family’s wealth away to charities and public works. But fear grounded his excitement after being invited to appear on Oprah.

“They had booked everything for me,” Saxe recalled. “They had a hotel room.  ‘We’ll pick you up at the airport. Everything is a go!’  And I said, but I can’t fly.  And they said, ‘What? You can’t fly?’  And that’s true.  And I didn’t go.”

Thanks to his donations, Saxe’s name is on streets, parks and pavilions.

“Here it is!  I love it!” Saxe said gleefully as he pulled up an internet image of one of a fountain now bearing his name.

Ironically, the internet is usually the only way Saxe can visit his namesake destinations.

“I can connect why I give money away and why I have monuments to myself to my phobias,” Saxe revealed.  “Because my phobias have so disabled me in my mind I want to do things, so the way I do it — without doing it — is…I create a monument to myself.  And that’s what I’ve done.”

Through sheer Will, Saxe made a name for himself in the big world he very much fears.

“I could, I think, easily become a hermit.  But I don’t want to,” Saxe said.  “So, you’ve got to pretend.  I’m the great pretender.  I’m a great actor.”

A lot of people have phobias.  Statistics show as many as 20% of Americans have a phobia at some point in their life.  Dr. Gearing says you need to talk to family or friends about your fears.  And if that doesn’t help, it’s not uncommon to reach out to a professional just like 23% of Americans with social phobias do.

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