Fear of Mushrooms (A guide)

This article would include what is the fear of mushrooms, how it develops and how intense the fear can be.

What are the causes and symptoms of Mycophobia? And It will elaborate, different types of mushrooms and will also highlight on the poisonous and magic mushrooms.

It will also highlight on the treatment process.

FEAR OF MUSHROOMS:

Fear of mushrooms is known as Mycophobia.

Myco is derived from Latin and it means “fungus” and mushrooms are also known as a fungal growth that takes a form of a doomed cap.

The most common reason for the fear of mushrooms or Mycophobia because some mushrooms can be poisonous.

Some people with the fear don’t even touch it and if in case they do their heart rate increases, they start sweating and feel nauseated and even dizziness.

How does the fear of mushrooms develop?

Fear of mushrooms develop because of the fear of fungus, people are afraid of getting sick because of fungi.

Fungi include yeast and moulds.

This fear usually develops from the horror stories of fungi from their ancestors or a prenotion to be away from anything that reminds of yeast.

People with Mycophobia are terrified of going to forests or the environment where mushrooms grow.

Some get terrified from the mere thought of walking by a toadstool alone.

It is very rare though to develop a fear of both, toadstool and moulds, it either one of them.

The Mychphobic usually are very worried about cleanliness around him and becomes obsessive about it.

How intense the fear of Mushrooms can be?

Fear of Mushrooms or Mycophobia can be pretty intense, people suffering from it experience high amount anxiety from mere a thought of mushrooms, they even can have a panic attack.

Some experiences increased heart rates, trembling, sweating, breathlessness, feelings like screaming high blood pressure etc.

Mycophobics can sometimes get hospitalized if they get any physical contact with the mushrooms, therefore playing around with mushrooms in front of a Mycophobic can be dangerous and life-threatening.

Though there are not many people who have a fear of mushrooms these days, still safety is necessary.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF FEAR OF MUSHROOMS?

Any phobia develops either because of the heredity or because of the past traumatic events.

Children hearing horror stories and seeing disgusting reactions from their parents develop this fear and disgust. 

Illness or sickness in the past because of the interaction with mushrooms also leads to a terror and which results in avoiding any contact with mushrooms even with the ones those are non-poisonous. 

Genetics also play a role in it like other phobias, if the parents have it, chances are that the children develop this phobia.

And it generally leads to other anxiety disorders like OCD because of contamination is most commonly seen in these patients. 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF FEAR OF MUSHROOMS?

People with this fear often avoid any route or place where they can have any kind of contact with mushrooms or moulds.

They might avoid forests, swimming pools, public toilets, animals etc.

The common symptoms include hot and cold flashes, sweating, dizziness, trembling and nauseated.

Having OCD like symptoms like excessive cleaning is also very common with Mycophobics.

They either clean their immediate environment excessively or themselves because of the fear of developing moulds on them.

Therefore, developing OCD as a co-morbid disorder with Mycophobia is also very common.

WHAT ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MUSHROOMS?

Currently, there are estimated over 10,000 types of mushrooms but all have been put into 4 categories:

  • Saprotrophic: 

These mushrooms are known decomposers, therefore, decaying wood, plant and even animal can be food for them.

This category includes medicinal mushrooms and some of them are even edible and used in the kitchens in some countries.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is one of the mushrooms which is used as medicine in some Asian countries.

Shiitake (Lentinuala edodes) is also used for medicinal purpose and also it is known to have good taste as well.  

Some edible mushrooms who fall into this category are- 

Oyster- It is a popular edible mushroom which is worldwide known for its cholesterol-reducing effects.

Maitake- It is also another edible mushroom which is popular for its’ anti-tumour properties

White Button- It is the most common in supermarkets all over the world.

Black Trumpet- It is known as the best tasting edible mushroom of all

  • Mycorrhizae

These mushrooms are very successful with plants and trees.

The mycelia of these fungi bring in additional nutrients like moisture, phosphorous into their hosts (plants & trees) and in return, they get the glucose that the plants or trees produce.

This allows plants & trees to grow faster and stronger

An estimation suggests 95% of plants are formed after using mycorrhizae fungus.

These mushrooms are natural and are very difficult to cultivate.

Some delicious edible mushrooms of this category are- Porcini (used in soups and sauces), Truffles, Chanterelles, Matsutake and Caesar’s Mushrooms

  • Parasites:

These types of mushrooms feed on the plants, these fungi infect the plants or the trees and eventually kill them.

Some of the parasite mushrooms are- Honey Fungus (edible), Caterpillar Fungus, Lion’s Mane (edible and helps in healing nerve tissue) & Chaga (medicinal mushroom).

  • Endophytic:

Endophytes are unique types of mushrooms, they partner with plants by invading the host tissue.

But it is different from parasites as unlike parasitic fungi, the plants remain healthy and gain nutrients and it is different from mycorrhizal fungi as they can easily be cultivated with their host present.

But it  is the least understood category of mushrooms

Depth knowledge on mushrooms can be gained from the National Audubon Society   

WHAT MUSHROOMS ARE POISONOUS?

There are some mushrooms that are very poisonous and can lead to instant death.

The structure outline of these mushrooms are, the mushrooms with white gills and has a ring around the stem are often poisonous.

Pink or red colour on the cap or stem of the mushroom can either be poisonous or hallucinogenic.

Here are some of their names-

Death Cap (Amanita phalloides):

It is found in Europe and looks like caesar’s mushrooms.

If eaten, within 6-12 hours abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea which might include blood starts.

It quickly damages cells of the body and attacks liver, kidneys and central nervous system.

And eventually leads to either coma or death of the individual.

Webcaps (Cortinarius species):

There are two species of webcap- deadly and fool’s webcap are very similar to each other and to other edible mushrooms as they look very common.

They have a poison known as Orellanin which initially causes common flu. It may take some weeks to cause damage to the kidney and if not treated can result in the death of the individual. 

Deadly Dapperling:

It is found in Europe and Asia and contains amatoxins and is also similar to most of the edible mushrooms.

If consumed can lead to liver damage and can have serious consequences if treatment not received immediately.

WHAT ARE MAGIC MUSHROOMS?

Magic mushrooms, also called shrooms, are cultivated mushrooms and are considered to be wild as they contain psilocybin which is a natural hallucinogen.

Psilocybin can be misused by drug abusers or other substance users and therefore, it is banned in some of the countries.

Magic mushrooms are often consumed after drying and mixing it with some eatables but some take it raw as well.

When consumed, the individual experiences hallucinations and this trip can last for 6-12 hours if consumed in moderation.

These are very harmful if consumed on a regular basis and can even lead to psychotic disorder.

There are some side effects of using these magic mushrooms and those are fatigue, yawning, drowsy, nausea, paranoia and bad trip because of hallucinations and psychosis are the most common among all. 

How to Recognize Magic Mushrooms?

Magic mushrooms have long, thin stems and are whitish-grey with dark brown caps with white in the centre.

They are dried and have a brownish colour with off-white areas.

Many poisonous mushrooms look very similar to shrooms and because of this mistake, many have fallen ill and even have died eating a poisonous mushroom.

What does magic mushrooms taste/smell like?

They definitely do not taste like the mushrooms we cook at home, it has a strong earthy taste and has rubber-like structure because of which it becomes very chewy.

It can be easily mixed with food or home-made tea.

What does magic mushrooms do?

Magic mushrooms contain psilocybin which is a natural hallucinogen which means it can make an individual hear, see and feel things that are not real.

However, to have a good time after using them only depends on the environmental factors, if the person who consumed is sad then there are high chances of experiencing highly negative emotions and which can ultimately lead to serious mental issues. 

Is magic mushrooms also responsible for fear of mushrooms?

Magic mushrooms can be one of the reasons for fear of mushrooms, as the use of it can lead to adverse side-effects and a bad experience of it can lead to a traumatic event, which can eventually lead to fear of mushrooms.

HOW CAN WE OVERCOME FEAR OF MUSHROOMS:

We know that there is no definite cause of Mycophobia or Fear of Mushrooms and therefore there are no definitive treatments for the same.

But there are treatments that help in curing fear or phobia and the following treatment methods can be helpful-

Medications:

Medications might help in treating the targeted issue like here is the phobia or the fear and therefore to help a person, anti-anxiety medications might help.

These medications might help with the panic attacks. 

Anti-depressants might also work with the patients as symptoms of Mycophobia can lead to a sudden decrease in serotonin and dopamine levels in the body. 

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT):

CBT has been found helpful in treating anxiety disorders like GAD and OCD, Mycophobia also leads to the symptoms of OCD and this may be helpful in restructuring the behaviour patterns of the individual.

CBT might help the patient with Mycophobia realize the automatic thoughts and insight into why they have such fear. 

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP):

ERP is also another psychotherapy which helps in treating anxiety disorders and especially phobias.

In the case of Mycophobia, the therapist might start the therapy by showing the pictures of mushrooms and preventing any response from it.

Eventually showing a real mushroom and then with some time touching the mushroom.

This way the individual’s fear gets desensitized.

Mindfulness:

Mindfulness-based breathing techniques have been found very good with anxiety disorders.

It helps in accepting the present, accepting whatever is happening and living in the moment.

It helps in focusing on the breaths and realizing the fact that we are alive.

With Mycophobia, mindfulness breathing and meditation will help in accepting the fear as well as living in the present.

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CONCLUSION:

This blog has discussed the fear of mushrooms, it’s causes, symptoms and how does it develop.

It has also discussed the fear it generates and has also elaborated the types of mushrooms, what are edible and what are usually used for medicinal purpose.

We have also learned about poisonous mushrooms and also about magic mushrooms and how it also contributes to the fear of mushrooms.

Last but not least we learned how to overcome our fear of mushrooms.

Your valuable comments and thoughts are welcomed and it would be wonderful if you can share your personal experiences (if there are any) or experiences of your close ones.  

FAQ:

What is the fear of mushrooms called?

Fear of mushrooms is called Mycophobia

Why are people afraid of mushrooms?

People are afraid of mushrooms because of many reasons like the horrifying stories and disgusted reactions of the parents, self-indulged hatred of yeast and moulds, being ill because of the mushrooms in the past or because of the hallucinogenic compounds of some mushrooms.

What is Selenophobia?

Selenophobia refers to the fear of the moon or even moonless night.

It is also known as Lunaphobia.

What is the weirdest phobia?

Weirdest phobias are Ponophobia, Phonophobia, Phobophobia, Ergophobia, Nomophobia etc.

There are many weird phobias and Mycophobia can also be considered as one.

What is clown phobia called?

Coulrophobia refers to the fear of clowns.

What we recommend for Phobias

Professional counselling

  • If you are suffering from Phobias then ongoing professional counselling may 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.

Panic Courses

  • Phobias and anxiety go hand in hand and in the end they result in Panic. A panic course such as this may help you alleviate those feelings of fears as it has with over 50,000 people.

Weighted Blankets

  • 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.

Citations:

“Do you fear the mushroom” (2018, Sept. 05). 

“Fear of Fungus: Mycophobia”. 

“Mycophobia (Fear of mushrooms)”, 2020. 

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