In this blog we will discuss the symptoms, causes and treatment of Aurophobia.
An intense fear of gold is called Aurophobia. It is a type of specific phobia which comes under the category of anxiety disorders in the DSM-V.
Gold is one of the most valuable metals. People, especially women, use it as jewellery and desire having more of it.
Like gaining money, an individual’s aim of working hard is to be able to buy gold. Mostly, in South Asian cultures it’s a symbol of extravagance and prosperity.
People wear it or make use of it on happy/holy occasions and or to depict their wealthiness.
However, someone suffering from Aurophobia will undergo extreme anxiety when exposed to gold.
To them, even the thought of getting exposed to gold can trigger unpleasant feelings, such as full-blown panic attacks.
In order to evade these intrusive thoughts, one avoids coming in contact with their fear stimuli, gold.
The acts of avoidance one does maintains their fear because of the feelings of safety it produces in the absence of gold.
This assures one that gold is something to be feared of.
Therefore, a sufferer finds this way of minimizing anxiety as legitimate and continues repeating it. Repetitive acts of avoidance can turn into compulsions, causing OCD in the future.
According to the DSM-V, this avoidance, caused by anxiety in Aurophobia affects one’s social and occupational functioning.
For example, one will avoid going to shops where they may encounter gold, such as a jewellery shop.
Others will refrain from meeting people or going to someone’s house in order to avoid getting exposed to gold.
For example, in couriers like India and Pakistan, where gold is one of the most common forms of jewelry women wear, one will isolate himself in their house.
This isolation can lead to depression.
Aurophobia is an irrational fear of gold. It is a type of specific phobia whose name originates from the Latin word ‘auro’ meaning gold and the Greek word ‘phobos’ meaning fear.
Symptoms of Aurophobia
Like in the case of all other specific phobias, Aurophobia too has anxiety as its focal symptom.
Individuals suffering from an irrational fear of gold suffer from extreme anxiety which, as mentioned earlier, can result in one having panic attacks.
When one undergoes extreme anxiety, the body experiences other physiological symptoms as well. Such as increased heart rate or palpitations.
When the sufferer thinks about his fear stimuli, he goes into flight or fight mode because of an adrenaline rush.
In this state, the body’s physiological responses help one make decisions when in fear causing situations.
They either decide to escape the situation (flight)-faint or suffer from panic attacks or stay and combat their fear (fight)-by taking counterproductive actions.
Sufferers of Aurophobia experience symptoms in different ways. One might have more severe symptoms than the other, based on their past experiences and intensity of the phobia.
Though, as the DSM-5 suggests, one must experience anxiety lasting for at least 6-months.
Symptoms one experiences in Aurophobia are:
- Excessive anxiety when exposed to gold
- Excessive anxiety when thinking about gold
- Inability to manage anxiety
- Full-blown panic attacks
- Avoiding gold
- Increased heart beat
- Muscle tension
- Feelings of dizziness/fainting
- Feeling depressed
- Fear of an impending doom
- Excessive sweating
- Hot/cold flashes
- Butterflies in the stomach
- Drying up of the mouth
For one to be diagnosed with Aurophobia, a person should experience at least 3-5 of these symptoms (including anxiety).
Causes of Aurophobia
Like every other specific phobia, Aurophobia is a result of either genetics or a past traumatic experience.
Someone who has a family history of anxiety disorders or specific phobias has a higher chance of developing Aurophobia than someone who doesn’t.
This is because they are genetically predisposed to develop it.
Genes and neurotransmitters also play a significant role in this genetic predisposition.
This genetic tendency to develop a mental disorder/specific phobia can also be referred to as a Diathesis-stress relationship.
According to this, one with a genetic predisposition will not develop symptoms of Aurophobia until and unless there is some trigger event, instigating anxiety or fear of gold.
Additionally, a sufferer might fear gold because of the fact that people get killed by their own loved ones for the sake of it.
This thought can be a result of either their own personal experience (seeing their parents suffer from it) or hearing someone else experience this incident via news.
Also, one can fear gold because he has seen people or his own family members quarrelling over it due to greed.
The negativity gold spreads in one’s life can be the biggest reason for Aurophobia to develop.
Thus, fear of getting robbed (Harpaxophobia) can also cause Aurophobia.
Children learn to be terrified of money by seeing their parents act this way when exposed to gold.
Therefore, Aurophobia is caused by both genetics and environmental factors.
Treatment of Aurophobia
Aurophobia, like all other specific phobias, has no exclusive type of treatment that is specifically designed to treat it.
Like all the other specific phobias, Aurophobia is treated by a number of different therapies including, Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT) and or medications that lower downs the anxiety or other physical symptoms.
• Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is one of the most frequently used treatments for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders.
Aurophobia is defined as the irrational fear of gold. Thus, the therapist helps the patient in replacing these irrational thoughts with more rational ones.
The patients are helped out in analyzing and justifying the way they feel about their fear stimuli.
Therapists assist them in uncovering the reasons behind their fear and later they provide them with alternate, pleasant thoughts.
The patient is told to maintain a thought diary (with ABCD column) which provides them a replacement for every irrational thought they have, when thinking about a particular situation.
The ABCD stands for:
i. A (antecedents) a situation or triggering event.
ii. B (belief) the thought that comes to one’s mind when in that triggering situation.
iii. C (consequences) the symptoms/feelings caused by that event/thought
iv. D (dispute) alternate, rational thoughts provided by the therapist in an attempt to dispute/challenge those irrational beliefs.
This last section of the thought diary is what really plays a role in helping the person feel good/less anxious.
• Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR is a meditation therapy, used to manage stress or anxiety. It is an 8-week program which includes group sessions.
Mindfulness vand Hatha yoga are practiced in these sessions. Lectures and group discussions are also done to talk about mental health and increase interactivity.
In mindfulness meditation the person is told to, for example, focus on the sensations felt while breathing or the rhythm of the chest rising and falling during the process.
This distracts the person’s attention from something stressful to something which is neutral and soothing.
For quick and effective treatment, patients are also given a set of home works, for example 45 minutes of yoga and meditation sessions for 6 days a week and to record their results/feelings in a book or diary for 15 minutes a day.
• Exposure Therapy
It is one of the most frequently used ways of treating patients with Aurophobia (or any other kind of specific phobia).
In this therapy, the patient is exposed to the source of his fear over a certain span of time.
To begin with the therapy, the therapist exposes the patient to the least triggering stimuli, a picture of gold for example.
As the therapy progresses and the patient is able to control his anxious feelings, imagery can be used to take the treatment a step further.
In this part of the treatment the patient is asked to visualize/imagine a situation in which he is exposed to gold.
During this process of imagery, one actually feels that he’s in that particular situation or place, experiencing various senses.
Once the person successfully, without feeling anxious, clears this step of the therapy, he is then exposed to real gold.
While the patient is being exposed to different levels of fear during the various stages of therapy, the therapist simultaneously teaches them coping exercises.
These include, breathing techniques or muscle relaxation methods to lower their anxiety, when in an actual fear causing situation.
This teaches them how to remain calm when exposed to their fear stimuli.
Before actually starting the exposure therapy, the therapist needs to figure out the intensity of the patient’s fear, as to deduce whether they will be able to undergo this treatment, without any physical or psychological harm caused to them during the exposure processes.
However, these steps desensitize one to their fear of gold by exposing them to that stimuli repeatedly, until they learn to undergo the situation without anxiety/panic attacks.
This another form of treatment used with patients suffering from specific phobia or anxiety disorders. It is used with patients who know the cause of their phobia.
First, the therapist collects the patients’ history of different fears. They then identify the real cause of the particular fear/phobia the patient has.
They then discuss any new/latest event that triggered their anxiety and fear in the past few weeks.
People coming with specific phobias are told to imagine their distress causing stimuli.
The therapist then works with the individual in order for them to overcome their fear. In the case of Aurophobia, the patient will be advised on how to overcome his fear of gold.
They do this by creating a positive imagery for the patients’ feared stimuli.
• Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
This is another effective therapy used to treat Aurophobia. It is more commonly used with people suffering from personality disorders, but is also useful with patients suffering from this type of specific phobia.
Coping skills are taught in the DBT group which lasts for about 6-months and can have a number of people (depending on how many join the group).
i.Half-smiling is the first module of DBT. It is a technique that is used with patients who are distressed because of their irrational thoughts.
The technique is known as ‘Half-smiling’ because the person is first advised to think about the stimuli that fears or upsets them, and while doing so they are told to lift the corners of their mouths by subtly smiling.
Smiling is not that will help one get rid of these unpleasant thoughts, it is the person’s ability to constrain itself from thinking about those thoughts while half smiling.
ii.Mindfulness, the second module, is another technique used in DBT groups which helps the individual in getting rid of those negative thoughts.
Individuals are told to focus on the present and be attentive to what is going on around them at the moment.
This helps in breaking the link between their mind and any negative thought that might come to them then.
For example, a person is told to focus on his breath or on the sound of the wind around them, making use of their auditory sense.
iii.The third technique or module of the DBT is distress tolerance skills. This module teaches people to calm themselves down in healthy ways when they are distressed or emotionally overwhelmed.
Individuals are allowed to make wise, rational decisions and take immediate action, rather than being captured by emotionally destructive thoughts that might make the situation worse.
Reality acceptance skills are also learnt under this model so that people fully accept reality and later make plans on how to address the problem.
They are not just one of the many treatment therapies used for Aurophobia, instead they are one of the most common ways of relaxation used by many people.
Yoga tends to stimulate the meditative state of one’s mind while the person is in a particular yoga posture.
Through yoga/meditation the mind is diverted towards something more productive and calm, allowing the person to escape the negative, distress causing thoughts.
Out of a number of yoga types, one can benefit from any yoga type/pose they like. Hatha yoga is one of the different types of yoga.
The breathing techniques or the imagery one creates while in a yoga posture are the real factors that makes the person feel less anxious and diverts their mind, away from the thoughts about their fear stimuli.
• Drug Therapy
Drugs are used to reduce the physical symptoms caused by Aurophobia.
Drugs are very quick in effectiveness, as they start showing progress in the patients’ health at least 2 weeks after the medicine is taken.
This type of biological treatment is usually more effective if the cause of the phobia is only genetic.
However, these drugs/medicines are not to be taken without a doctor’s prescription or consultation.
Two types of drugs are used in the treatment of this phobia:
i. Antidepressant Drugs
These drugs, as the name suggests don’t only treat depression but are also very effective in treating phobias.
Medicines like Paxil reduce the anxious feelings of a person and makes him feel calm. They need to be taken on a daily basis but not without a doctor’s advice.
Medicines like Klonopin are anti-anxiety drugs. They are most commonly used with patients who experience panic attacks and also lowers their anxiety by binding to receptor cells of the brain that cause these unpleasant symptoms.
Whether the cause of Aurophobia, or any other type of specific phobia is genetics, environmental or both, the best and the most effective way of treating them is by using a combination of both biological treatments (drugs) with cognitive treatment (for example CBT/exposure therapy).
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
Titles to read
- Invested: How I Learned to Master My Mind, My Fears, and My Money to Achieve Financial Freedom and Live a More Authentic Life (with a Little Help from Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, and My Dad)
by Danielle Town and Phil Town
- Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts: A CBT-Based Guide to Getting Over Frightening, Obsessive, or Disturbing Thoughts
by Sally M. Winston PsyD and Martin N. Seif PhD
- The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD: A Guide to Overcoming Obsessions and Compulsions Using Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)
Part of: New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook (73 Books)
by Jon Hershfield MFT , Tom Corboy MFT , et al.
by Jon Hershfield MFT , Shala Nicely LPC , et al.
What we recommend for Phobias
- If you are suffering from Phobias then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you address the fears you are facing.
Weighted Blankets may help you sleep better if your phobias are affecting your quality of sleep. Weighted blankets apply enough weight on you that they make you feel much more relaxed and calm at night.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1) What is the fear of gold?
Aurophobia is the irrational fear of gold. One fears its negative aspects and or touches it.
Q2) How can I get over my fear of gold?
Like all other specific phobias, Aurophobia is treated using CBT, DBT and or medicinal drugs.
Q3) What causes Aurophobia?
A genetic predisposition with the right environmental trigger event can cause Aurophobia
Below is a complete list of all Phobias which we currently cover.