Heterophobia or Fear of Heterosexuals: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
What is Heterophobia or Fear of Heterosexuals?
Sometimes some bad experience with heterosexual coupling might develop a fear in the homosexual or a bisexual about them. This irrational fear about the heterosexuals felt by the homosexuals and bisexuals is known as heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals.
We often hear the term homophobic or you can find homophobic people in your daily lives where people are afraid of homosexuals irrationally and develop an aggression towards them. The similar feeling sometimes arises in the homosexuals too about the heterosexuals where they get biases about the heterosexuals. If you are not interacting with different groups of people or you are too consumed in your own world, the fear of someone's personal choice of life and preference of partner may make you uncomfortable. In the same way, heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals is an irrational fear of straight people which is also exaggerated and extreme. This fear leads to suspecting and judging all straight people and then avoiding them or anyone who is in a heterosexual relationship.
Among the many reasons that might lead to developing heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals in a person, the strongest is some kind of bad experience that the homosexual person went through due to meeting some homophobic person. Homophobic people often use harsh methods like backlashing and insulting homosexuals in front of the masses and this kind of action might lead to the heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals or fear of straight people in the homosexual person. He or she then starts thinking that the heterosexuals never want what is good for them. This phobia often goes unnoticed as it deeply connects to the person's psyche. And whatever the origin of the problem maybe, heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals or fear of straight people though ignored is a common occurrence.
Causes of Heterophobia or Fear of Heterosexuals
Some of the root causes of heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals are:
- The gay or the lesbian person has gone through a crippling homophobic situation which has caused heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals in him or her.
- The fear can also be the counter attack to Homophobia as people often deny the equal rights for the LGBT community.
- Some past experience in the childhood related to homophobia where he or she has been a victim or a witness and that has developed the fear in him or her.
Signs and Symptoms of Heterophobia or Fear of Heterosexuals
The fear increases as you get closer to the thing that you are afraid of. Every phobia including heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals works the same way. It starts from the patient getting anxious and can reach up to the level of a strong panic attack. Some of the regular physical and emotional signs and symptoms of heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals are:
- Increasing heat beat.
- Disturbances in stomach, vomiting feeling.
- Trembling and sweating, hot and cold flashes, uncomfortable sensations are common symptoms in heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals.
- Pain in the chest.
- Trying to escape.
- Panic attack.
- Losing control of oneself and overreacting.
- Nervous breakdown.
- Feeling of death in extreme cases.
Noted below are some of the common symptoms of almost every kind of phobia including heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals:
- Adopting whatever way possible to avoid the object of fear.
- Losing control of self and panicking even after knowing that the fear is irrational.
- The increase in heartbeat rate, sweating, feeling dizzy and vomiting.
- Getting worried and tensed at the thought of the object that you fear.
When do you recommend the patient to the Doctor?
As soon you notice the above mentioned symptoms you should ask the patient to visit the doctor. Often people avoid visiting doctors until the fear start creating serious disturbances in your life. But opting for going under a medical and psychological treatment in the beginning might save you from developing severe heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals in you to an extent that it becomes very harmful.
Risk Factors for Heterophobia or Fear of Heterosexuals
The risk of the heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals can get increased with the few risk factors listed below, they are:
- The age of a person is a risk factor for heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals. Development of phobia occurs during the teenage whereas specific phobias may start growing you are 10.
- The inheriting factor. You can develop heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals if your relative has been suffering from the same or the similar kind of phobia. Watching your relative could build up the fear in you too.
- The temperamental factor. The fear can grow in you if you are negative in thoughts if you are more sensitive and more restricted in nature than the usual people.
- The factor of past. If you have experienced something terrible in your past or in your childhood, the fear of that object can grow in you.
Complications in Heterophobia or Fear of Heterosexuals
Fear of certain things may look stupid or silly to people but he patient can be devastated by it. Some of the complications that develop when you are suffering from heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals are:
- The patient isolates himself/herself form the rest of the world. In this way, his/her academic and professional life would be disturbed. If the fear is inside the child he or she will never learn to interact with people which is important for progressing in life.
- The heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals might lead the patient to anxiety disorders and then into clinical depression.
- The patient might choose the method of substance abuse like drugging himself/herself to get away from the stress caused by heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals.
- Suicidal tendencies can develop in the patient too.
Tests to Diagnose Heterophobia or Fear of Heterosexuals
There is no certain test that can tell if the person has heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals or not. Certain symptoms are watched, studied and certain diagnostic methods can tell if the person has developed the phobia or not. The criteria are also mentioned the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders which was published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Few of the diagnostic criteria for the specific phobias like heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals are:
- The feeling of anxiety or intense fear when being exposed to the object of fear. The object here triggers the fear in the patient. Sometimes the response is immediate when the source of fear is placed in front of the patient.
- The fear is irrationals and the level of anxiety is prone to developing a risk for the patient when the patient is exposed to the source of fear.
- The patient tries and avoids all social situations that might expose himself/herself to the object off fear.
- Avoiding social situations in fear of being exposed to the object of fear which is causing disturbances in the daily life of the patient.
- The fear lingers on in the patient for more than 6 months.
Treatment for Heterophobia or Fear of Heterosexuals
A mental health professional would be able to help you get rid of your heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals. The usual therapy is known as Psychotherapy. There are several kinds of Psychotherapy, some are:
Desensitization or Exposure Therapy for Treating Heterophobia or Fear of Heterosexuals
Desensitization or exposure therapy is the best way to treat heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals. This kind of therapy uses exposure methods of gets rid of heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals. Showing pictures of crowded people or making the patient attend social gatherings where there are lots of heterosexual people may bring down the fear in the person as he or she starts noticing that the fear is irrational. The exposure amount increases slowly over a period of time as the patient keeps on coping with the situation.
An Alternative Way to Treat Heterophobia or Fear of Heterosexuals is Talk Therapy
Talk therapy can help in treating heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals. Here you can talk to the patient or bring other people like family and friends to talk to them so that they slowly lose the fear they have for heterosexual people in them. This therapy also helps to put in the mind of the patient that the fear is irrational in nature.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is Yet Another Way to Treat Heterophobia or Fear of Heterosexuals
CBT therapy for treating heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals focuses on the changing of negative thoughts to positive ones. CBT exposes the patient to the object of fear under controlled conditions and help to change their beliefs making them realize that there is no reason to be afraid of heterosexual people.
Medicines for Treating Heterophobia or Fear of Heterosexuals
Sometimes doctors recommend medicines for treating the patient with heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals. These medicines may have side effects and cause withdrawal in the patient. The medicines do not cure the fear in the person but only treats the symptoms by calming down the nerves of the patient.
The few other therapies can be adopted by the patient are hypnotherapy and Neuro Linguistic programs. The recent scenario shows that homophobic people uses harsh words and back lashed the homosexuals or the LGBT community. Thus heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals is becoming a common phenomenon. The patient needs to believe that the heterosexuals cannot keep him/her down or cannot affect his/her life. We need to look forward as a society and help the patients by changing our behavior. Even small positive changes in the personal life of the patient will help him/her to recover sooner.
Prevention of Heterophobia or Fear of Heterosexuals
Genetics always play a role in the development of heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals in a person but we must keep in mind that if the patient noticed to have certain symptoms as discussed earlier, treating the patient at the early stage will not only help the patient but it might also prevent heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals from being passed on to his/her children.
Coping with Heterophobia or Fear of Heterosexuals
Even though professional treatment will help you get over heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals you must always keep trying yourself so that the process goes sooner.
- Your family and friends and the doctor can help you with not avoiding social situations.
- You can choose to attend support groups where you can learn different experiences from people who have the same problem of heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals.
- Carry out the therapy sessions as asked and take proper medications.
- Never over tense yourself. Take rest. Eat healthy, exercise daily and meditate to calm your mind.
Recovery Period/Healing Time for Heterophobia or Fear of Heterosexuals
Your doctor will be able to tell you how long it will take to recover from heterophobia or fear of heterosexuals. The recovery period/healing time also depends on the type of therapy chosen. Your doctor can also confirm you if the phobia can reoccur.