What is Phobophobia or Fear of Phobias: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

What is Phobophobia or Fear of Phobias?

Phobophobia is the fear of fear itself. A person with phobophobia or fear of phobias experiences anxiety even at the thought of a situation or object where they can become tensed or stressed or feared and thus they will avoid any situations and objects that will make them anxious. The word phobophobia has been coined from an old greek word “phobos” which means fear. This fear is often related to other phobias like fear of getting sick, fear of people or anthropophobia, agoraphobia or fear of not being able to escape large empty spaces and claustrophobia or fear of confined small spaces. Thus if the person faces any one of these sources of fear he or she starts panicking thinking that he or she will not be able to cope up with the situation. This phobia is often related to past incidents also.

The phobophobia or fear of phobias can be best described by the line that once President Roosevelt had mentioned; “the only thing we need to fear is the fear itself” but in this case this literally comes true for the sufferers of phobophobia. This fear develops in a person who is already afraid of something else and thinks of the phobia to regenerate in him or her again. Phobophobia or fear of phobias can, therefore, curbs down a person’s daily life by preventing him or her from performing daily activities.

Undiagnosed phobophobia or fear of phobias often is compared to panphobia and looks very similar to it. Panphobia is the fear of everything that the patient is surrounded by. Unfortunately, phobophobia or fear of phobias cannot be entirely treated but certain methods like meditation, yoga, hypnotherapy or energy psychology can be used to help the patient control his or her fears. These treatments will help the patient to believe that his or her past phobic experiences are into coming back, the fear he or she is developing against things is irrational and calm the mind or control the unconscious of the mind. You can also learn several relaxing techniques that you can apply to your daily life. If you choose to fight the fear yourself then you will get better sooner and not develop any severe mental illnesses.

What is Phobophobia or Fear of Phobias?

Causes of Phobophobia or Fear of Phobias

To be in fear of being afraid is what phobophobia is all about. Phobophobia or fear of phobias is mainly caused in a mind of the patient who has past traumatic experiences of being phobic about something else. People who have weak mental health, anxiety disorders and often get panic attacks may develop this phobia. The fear is not only irrational and irritable but often the patient turns hysteric in nature. Sudden attacks of hysteria takes over the patient when he or she is suffering from phobophobia. Phobophobia or fear of phobias is difficult to curb or identify mainly because anything can trigger the fear in the patient. The object of fear can be what the patient is surrounded by or can be an inner conflict that the patient is going through in his or her mind. Only if the person realises that he or she is becoming highly sensitive to certain situations or objects then the fear can be identified and dealt with. Often the patient cannot realize the initial sensitizing of his or her mind and then soon the mind becomes hugely sensitive towards the object and triggers disturbing feelings, emotions and physical conditions when the patient is exposed to the source of fear.

Signs and Symptoms of Phobophobia or Fear of Phobias

The greatest problem that arises when a person has phobophobia or fear of phobias is that the source of fear cannot be easily identified and thus the patient usually goes without proper treatment for years. The condition of the patient deteriorates due to these signs and symptoms that keep on occurring like:

  • Dryness of mouth.
  • Feeling dizzy.
  • Nausea.
  • Sweating profusely.
  • Increasing heartbeat.
  • Trembling.
  • Crying and shouting.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Nervous breakdown.
  • Being unable to breathe.

Also, the patient becomes mentally weak as he or she sees visions of dying and experiencing horrifying outcomes when he or she talks about fear. The patient starts to feel that he or she cannot fight or move on in life and the panic attacks are often taken as heart attacks by the patient.

As mentioned earlier what triggers the fear in the patient is difficult to identify. These signs and symptoms thus can occur at any moment of the day during the session when the patient is involved in a discussion that talks about the object of fear or he/she notices continuous images of the object of fear. The phobia cannot be identified until the life of the patient is hugely disturbed. If the patient himself or herself recognises the pattern then he or she should immediately consult medical help and get therapeutic sessions before the fear aggravates itself and disturbs the patient’s life totally.

Risk Factors for Phobophobia or Fear of Phobias

Several factors can be risky for the patient like the age, genetics, the temperament and a past incident.

  • If you notice that any of your family members are suffering from phobophobia or fear of phobias, you can likely develop the fear too in later years.
  • If you were a sensitive child or even now you are very sensitive in nature and often your mind drifts towards negativity, then phobophobia or fear of phobias is a risk factor.
  • If you have gone through or seen a traumatic incident in your early years then that can have an effect and you can develop phobophobia or fear of phobias.

Tests to Diagnose Phobophobia or Fear of Phobias

Phobophobia or fear of phobias is one of those phobias which is very difficult to identify and diagnose but with the help of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association the doctors can identify the patterns and determine the phobia and its stage. DSM can also help the doctors to choose the best method of treating the patient and at the same time, you need to be cooperative and answer the doctor’s questions so that you can get better soon.

Treatment for Phobophobia or Fear of Phobias

Phobophobia or fear of phobias often leads to extremities in a patient like gaining suicidal tendencies, going into clinical depression or choosing substance abuse if not treated on time. Along with the basic self-help ways like meditation and yoga that calm your mind and nerves choosing therapeutic treatments will help you get well sooner. Basically, all the treatments for phobophobia or fear of phobias work on one main point that is to make yourself calm even when you are exposed to the sources of fear. These treatments also bring down the anxiety problems in you.

  1. Hypnotherapy for Treating Phobophobia or Fear of Phobias

    Hypnotherapy for treating phobophobia or fear of phobias deals with the subconscious of your mind. It helps to reveal what is the source of the fear and then helps you to believe that the fear is irrational. In this way, your fear for the objects and situations will go down. The method is both safe and quick.

  2. Another Way to Treat Phobophobia or Fear of Phobias is Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

    The practise and study of how we imagine our reality and create it is known as NLP or neuro-linguistic programming. According to the study of NLP, if you have not been able to create a proper reality for yourself then the loop holes will build phobophobia or fear of phobias in you. The programming will help you to learn where the loop holes are and how can you treat them and re-create your world so that you are no more afraid of the source of the fear.

  3. Energy Psychology to Treat Phobophobia or Fear of Phobias

    Energy psychology is the most effective treatments to deal with phobophobia or fear of phobias as considered by the researchers. In acupuncture needles are pricked in your body so that the parts that have lost the sensations can gain sensation back over time, energy psychology method also works on the same principle only that in energy psychology you go under an emotional and mental acupuncture. The technique is smooth for the patients and has shown very positive results over the years during which it has been practiced. The results are:

    • Your behaviors change rapidly from negative to positive.
    • You participate well in the recovery process.
    • Your thoughts change rapidly.
    • You develop skills that will help you maintain a positive attitude for a lifetime.

    Other than these treatments as we have discussed earlier, helping your own self by learning techniques from different sources can get you better too. These processes may not be fast but if applied during the early stages might develop in you the strength to fight phobophobia or fear of phobias.

Prevention of Phobophobia or Fear of Phobias

The fear of being afraid of fear can often cause nothing dangerous to your life and can, therefore, go unnoticed until your children pick up the similar pattern. Thus to prevent phobophobia or fear of phobias from passing it on to the children you must try and get treatment for it. Even regular anxiety attacks can disturb your normal life even if it does not possess a death threat. The thought of being afraid even though is scary for you must be realised that it is irrational and can be controlled.

Recovery Period/Healing Time for Phobophobia or Fear of Phobias

Once it is identified, phobophobia or fear of phobias can be treated medically as most of the patients do not realise that they are suffering from phobia until mentioned by the doctors. The healing time or recovery period will depend upon the type of treatment chosen and the stage of the phobia you are in. The psychotherapist will also be able to tell if you can develop the phobia again or not.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 4, 2017

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