In this blog we will deliberate about the causes, symptoms and treatments of Carnophobia.
Carnophobia is an irrational fear of meat.
People suffering from this phobia have an aversion to meat and cannot tolerate either thinking about meat or even looking at it, let alone eat it.
They can suffer a full-blown panic attack if they even think of meat.
It is a specific phobia and leaves the person suffering from it in a position where his social and occupational stance can be negatively affected.
The life of the person from phobia is affected that they are unable to enjoy the common things in life due to their fear.
Carnophobia is an intense fear of meat and if the person finds out that he has ingested meat by mistake unknowingly he will suffer immensely at the hands of his own obsessive irrational thoughts.
There are religions and cultures in the world who cannot eat meat due to religious restrictions. They develop an aversion to the meat.
Symptoms of Carnophobia
To avoid the experience of anxiety itself the individual may develop Carnophobia, so as to avoid the very cause of the uncomfortable condition.
- Anxiety at the thought of meat
- Anxiety when seeing meat
- Unable to attend any event that would have meat included in the meal
These are intense and can begin without any prior warning.
The person suffering from Carnophobia experiences the full physical intensity of either all of these or some of these in combination with others.
- hot flashes or chills
- shortness of breath a choking sensation
- rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
- feeling faint
- dry mouth
- ringing in ears
- raised blood pressure
The Psychological Symptoms
During panic attack the person suffering from Carnophobia may experience the following
- fear of fainting
- feelings of dread
- fear of dying
- fear of losing control
- fear of harm
- fear of illness
- feeling Of hopelessness
- feeling of disconnect
- lack of concentration
- mood swings
Causes of Carnophobia
As with most phobias and anxieties, there is no clear consensus about what causes Carnophobia, but still a very plausible cause could be a fear of being left alone and not having someone to share their life with.
The most common explanation is a childhood traumatic episode where a child may have experienced raw meat or the slaughtering of sheep or cow that provides meat.
This phobia develops mostly when people who grow up on farms may gety attached to the animals they raise or breed.
They cannot bear the loss of their animals and might develop this fear that is Carnophobia.
It could also be that he does not like the feel or the texture of meat and also some might not like the taste also.
A person who grew up in a vegan household would never have eaten meat and would have been taught to detest meat of all sorts.
There are plenty of people with Carnophobia who cannot even recall the traumatic incident that would have developed this fear.
Scientists believe that a combination of genetic tendencies, brain chemistry, and other biological and environmental factors could cause such fears to develop.
As is common in specific phobias, the cause Carnophobia may lie deep in the person’s childhood or its onset may be due to an environmental factor.
Genetics also plays a pivotal role in the cause of developing Carnophobia.
Other causes can be as follow:
• Learned behavior
• Traumatic experiences
Etiological Models of Carnophobia
1. Biological (Genetic) Model
Genetics also determines how a person reacts and feels. Therefore, people inherit fears and phobias as well from their families.
The brain cells (neurons) release certain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
Serotonin and Dopamine are two neurotransmitters that in depleted states can cause anxiety like symptoms.
2. Psychodiagnostics Model
If a person has suffered from a traumatic experience in early childhood it can have a severe dire impact on his later life.
A childhood traumatic experience could be where children experienced a negative impact of events due to a change in their life.
This may leave a long lasting impression.
Reading books that have a detailed account of broken relationships and single miserable people, also anecdotes of unwarranted changes that altered the lives of these people, can add to the fears.
3. Behavioral Model
According to this model, irrational fears may be caused through behaviors that are learned by replication.
Children often replicate unique behaviors of their adults, parents or a favorite aunt or uncle.
If a family member is already suffering from anxiety or is scared of one or another thing, then chances are higher that only by observing this, the child may develop fears.
Treatments of Carnophobia
Carnophobia can be treated through different treatments.
These include Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Exposure Therapy, Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction MBSR) and forms of meditation.
1) Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
In CBT the therapist helps the client to amend his thoughts so that a desirable behavior can be achieved.
This therapy is effective, because if the thoughts or cognitions alter then there will be a lasting impact on behavior.
The therapist helps the client to discover the reason for this thought, his behavior in regards to changes in life. This therapy is goal oriented and short termed.
Therefore, the results are seen soon. It changes the way a person thinks and feels.
CBT does not focus on probing the past to resolve current problems, rather it concentrates on the present situation.
Our thoughts determine how we act or react to certain stimuli and situations. Therefore, negative thoughts bring about a negative behavior response or an undesirable behavior.
Whereas, positive thoughts propagate desirable and healthy attitude and response.
- What thought is invoked at the thought of meat?
- How do you feel when you see meat?
- What do you do when you think of eating meat?
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a form of CBT and designed by Albert Ellis.
According to Ellis, “people are not disturbed by things but rather by their view of things.” This is what subjective perspective is.
In Carnophobia, the person thinks of staying single and gets anxious because there is a fear of being alone for the rest of their lives.
2 Exposure Therapy
It is one of the most frequently used ways of treating patients with Carnophobia.
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.
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 that makes him anxious.
During this process of imagery, one actually feels being 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 life situations.
While the patient is being exposed to different intensities of stimuli 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/anxiety causing situation.
This teaches them how to remain calm when exposed to the 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.
3) Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP)
In this therapy the client is asked to
- Access the phobia in a safe environment.
- Help them to replay the phobia along with happy emotions.
- Disassociate from the phobia.
4) Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR involves being aware of one’s own thoughts, feelings and reducing the interference from around the environment.
We do not pay attention to how we process the various stimuli that affect us.
We do not process the way our bodies feel and respond, there is no focus on our thoughts and how these thoughts are influencing our emotions.
In MBSR, the client is ‘woken up’ to actually experience the various senses. ‘Focus’ is the keyword!
In Carnophobia treatment, the client is made conscious to pay attention to his thoughts when he is thinking of what he is afraid of.
Awareness helps to alleviate the stress symptoms.
For meditation to be effective during treatment, the mind is cleared off all the clutter of random thoughts.
The mind and body are made to be ‘in sync’ with each other, so that the feared stimulus does not invoke a negative thought.
The client will meditate during the thoughts of death and concentrate on his breathing patterns in the presence of the feared stimulus.
6) Self-Help Groups
Self Help groups are an effective type of therapy, in which the client does not find himself as a lone sufferer.
These groups are individuals who are afflicted with the same types of phobias. They come together to share their thoughts, experiences and their coping strategies.
This also helps in developing a ‘sense of I am not the only one’ suffering.
7) Changing Lifestyle
Breaking down the dullness of the daily, helps break down anxiety as well.
• Take up jogging or go for daily walks:
Developing a walk routine can damper the way our negative thoughts control our behavior.
• Indulging in an exercise regime:
Vigorous exercise like aerobics has proved to reduce or alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Exercise helps the mind to cope with stress and stressful situations better.
This is what the American Psychological Association has to say about inducting exercise to eliminate stress or phobias.
• Altering eating and drinking habits:
Cutting down on fatty foods and caffeine can improve self-image, that in turn leads to a raised self-esteem.
This finally diminishes the symptoms of stress to a bare minimum. With high intake of caffeine, the body resembles a ‘fight or flight’ response, thus giving way to anxiety.
When we get proper rest, our concentration improves.
8) Psychiatric Medication
There are a number of medicines that the Psychiatrist can prescribe if the symptoms of Carnophobia are severe.
Anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs)
These should only be taken after the consultation with the doctor and shouldn’t be initiated or discontinued as per personal discretion.
These medicines are not only used to treat depression, but also to alleviate the symptoms of Carnophobia as well as other phobias.
Medicines alone might not be as effective, but if used in conjunction with therapies then the results will be better.
9) Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
This kind of therapy is used to regulate the emotions.
A technique called “half-smiling” is used where the client is asked to lift the corners of his mouth when the feared thought comes to his mind.
Apart from this the mind is to be trained to refrain from thinking about the painful stimulus.
Coping Ahead is another technique in DBT that requires the client to sit quietly and think of the feared situation and strategize what he will do.
We are always here to answer if you have any queries.
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.
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
What is CBT used for?
CBT is used for altering the way we perceive things and think, so that our behavior can also be modified.
Can we fall asleep during meditation?
Falling asleep during meditation is very common.
Due to the relaxing element and the focus on the self, one is very likely to fall asleep.
Is meat good for health?
Meat has protein and yes, it is good for health if taken in a balanced diet that includes carbs, vitamins, minerals and fats as well.
Which meat is good for health?
All meats are healthy if taken in balanced amounts, but fish is considered to be a good source of safe proteins if one is not allergic to it.
Below is a complete list of all Phobias which we currently cover.
Titles to Read
- The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne PhD | May 1, 2020
- Anxiety, Phobias, and Panic by Reneau Peurifoy | Feb 1, 2005
- Dying of Embarrassment: Help for Social Anxiety and Phobia by Barbara G. Markway, C. Alec Pollard, et al. | Oct 1, 1992
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Made Simple: 10 Strategies for Managing Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Panic, and Worry by Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D | May 22, 2018
- The CBT Deck: 101 Practices to Improve Thoughts, Be in the Moment & Take Action in Your Life by Seth Gillihan | Jun 11, 2019