What is Lilapsophobia? (An Overview)

In this blog we will discuss the causes, symptoms and treatment of Lilapsosphere.

What is Lilapsophobia?

Lilapsophobia is a fear of tornadoes and hurricanes. Lilapsophobia may also be seen as a very severe form of astraphobia, which is a fear of thunder and lightning. Someone with lilapsophobia may find themselves feeling anxiety and even panic even when they see news coverage of tornadoes and hurricanes and they may actively avoid such situations.

Lilapsosphere is an irrational and an extreme fear of tornadoes and Hurricanes,where the person fears their approach or is scared of the extreme intensity they can go to.

It is an extreme form of Astraphobia that is a fear of thunder and lightning.

The sufferer dreads the changes in the weather, even if it gets cloudy he prefers to stay indoors to avoid being exposed to even a slight weather change that indicates high winds or a tornado.

Seeing areas hit by these natural disasters in movies or news channels feeds to the fear and the person starts to avoid that which they fear.

Lilapsophobia is a fear of tornadoes or hurricanes at an extreme level. They are scared of the panic attack that follows the fearful stimulus.

Thus they try to avoid the situation in which there is even a hint of tornadoes or hurricanes.

Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Dorian have wrecked havoc in the Florida and Bahamas, so much so that the entire lifestyle was uprooted and relived.

Causes of Lilapsophobia

Events such as these are enough to drive those who already have a predisposition in their body, to the brink of lilapsophobia.

As is common in specific phobias, the cause of lilapsophobia 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 lilapsophobia 

Other causes can be as follow:

• Learned behavior

• Traumatic experiences

Etiological Models of Lilapsophobia 

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 often see a movie of a tornado or a hurricane creating havoc can also leave a long lasting impression.

Reading books that have a detailed account of these natural disasters engulfing people who were never to be found can add to the fears.

A trauma or accident that took place in a void or open space fuels the anxiety level of the person who is already vulnerable. 

3. Behavioral Model

According to this model, irrational fear of open spaces and voids  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 the hurricanes or even going out when the weather seems windy or a bit fickle and where there are fields,  then chances are higher that only by observing this the child may develop fear of these natural disasters.

Symptoms of Lilapsophobia 

The PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS may include:

•                     Rapid heartbeat at the mention of tornadoes or hurricanes

•                     Avoid to look at the news of such events

•                     Avoid going out at when the weather changes

•                     Breathlessness

•                     Dizziness

•                     Sweating

•                     Trembling

•                     Dry mouth

•                     Hyperventilation

•                     Raised blood pressure

•                    Ringing sound in ears


b)     The PSYCHOLOGICAL SYMPTOMS may include:

•       Irritability

•       Fear of losing control

•       Withdrawn

•       Mood swings

•       Fear of dying

•       Feeling of helplessness

Treatments of Lilapsophobia

Lilapsophobia can be treated through different treatments. These include Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Exposure Therapy (Systematic Desensitization), 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 tornadoes and hurricanes.

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.

For the treatment of Lilapsophobia, the therapist separates the problem into parts.

These may include: thoughts, feelings and actions. 

  1. What thought is invoked at the sight of tornadoes and hurricanes?
  2. How do you feel when you look at the tornadoes and hurricanes?
  3. What do you do when you look at the tornadoes and hurricanes? 
  4. 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 Lilapsophobia, the person sees the tornadoes as very rightly threatening, not because these are dangerous, but because he ‘views’ them as posing some kind of threat to his existence even if he thinks about them or sees them on TV..

2) Systematic Desensitization (Exposure)

This is one of the most common therapies used in treating phobias and an effective way to desensitize the patient. 

In this therapy the client with phobia is exposed to the stimulus (tornadoes and hurricanes) gradually with varying durations of time.

Every time the ‘exposure’ of the feared stimulus is increased.

In Lilapsophobia the client is exposed to images of tornadoes and hurricanes first.

For the fear to be invoked during therapy, the patient must be exposed to an intense stimulus (one that is feared).

He is also asked to narrate any scene from a movie he has seen that involved incidents from these disasters that took place.

It is a type of behavior therapy developed by Wolpe in the 1950s.

The aim of Systematic Desensitization is to remove the ‘feared stimulus’ and substitute it with a ‘relaxation response.’

Initially a relaxation technique that involves deep breathing is taught to the client.

Then the client is asked to present a list that has a hierarchical presentation of his fears, starting from the least fear evoking situation to the most. 

The therapist takes the client through these situations via two methods:

a)     In vitro – where the feared stimulus is made to imagine

b)    In vivo – where the client visits the the feared place in reality

The exposure to the phobic stimulus is of varying durations, where the client exercises relaxation techniques and can revert to a previous non-threatening situation any time.

3. 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! Awareness helps to alleviate the stress symptoms. 

4. Meditation

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 exposure to the open space  and concentrate on his breathing patterns in the presence of the feared stimulus. 

5. 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.

6. 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.

• Improving the sleep cycle:

When we get proper rest, our concentration improves.

When the mind is properly rested then only can it view the beauty of the open space like fields and prairies.

7.         Psychiatric Medication 

There are a number of medicines that the Psychiatrist can prescribe if the symptoms of kenophobia are severe.

1. 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.

2. Antidepressants 

These medicines are not only used to treat depression, but also to alleviate the symptoms of Lilapsophobia 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. 

8.       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.

Frequently Asked Questions about Lilapsophobia.

Do I have Lilapsophobia?

If you are afraid of severe weather like tornadoes and it can cause you to get anxious and panic, then you may have Lilapsophobia

How common is Lilapsophobia?

Lilapsophobia is not as common in children, but can be diagnosed in children if the symptoms  persist for more than six months.

How many people have Lilapsophobia?

One in 10 Americans may suffer from severe Lilapsophobia or other weather fears.

These incluse fears of hurricanes, wildfires or tornadoes. 

Why do people fear tornadoes?

The fear of  tornadoes can develop for many reasons.

Losing a Loved One–Losing a loved one in severe weather can also cause stress and trauma that may result in Lilapsophobia.

Why are tornadoes so dangerous?

Tornadoes cause extensive damage to property and lives as well, that’s why they are considered dangerous.

Examples of other interesting phobias


Titles to Read


  • www.psychtimes.com
  • www.apa.org
  • www.mindfulness.com 
  • www.mayoclinic.com