In this blog we will discuss the symptoms, causes and treatments of Mageirocophobia.
An intense fear of cooking is called Mageirocophobia. This is a type of specific phobia which comes under the category of anxiety disorders in the DSM-V.
Someone suffering from it will experience extreme anxiety when cooking.
Not just this, but watching someone cook or thinking of cooking can also give rise to anxiety.
If this anxiety worsens, one can have panic attacks. In order to terminate this anxiety, the sufferer tries to avoid cooking.
Avoidance produces pleasant feelings, which persuade one to repeat these actions. This validates one’s fear of cooking and thus, maintains their phobia.
However, this repetition can take the form of compulsions. Someone suffering from Mageirocophobia can also develop Obsessive-compulsive Disorder.
The DSM-V suggests, anxiety that results in avoidance affects one’s social and occupational functioning.
For example, sufferers will avoid stepping foot in the kitchen in order to elude the sight of seeing someone cook.
They will refrain from going to restaurants where they think they’ll encounter a chef cooking live.
Not just this but one will prefer marrying someone who can cook, so they don’t have to. For college going students, living in dorms can be troublesome because they’ll have to cook for themselves.
Therefore, one will prefer studying in a college near their house, even if their quality of education is compromised.
Mageirocophobia is an irrational fear of cooking. It is a specific phobia which can be treated if one’s fear intensifies overtime.
Symptoms of Mageirocophobia
People with Mageirocophobia, like in all other specific phobias, experience intense anxiety about having an encounter with a situation where they need to cook.
They’re unable to control this anxiety and thus, end up feeling more anxious. This anxiety, in extreme cases, can give rise to full-blown panic attacks.
Sufferers go 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 panic attacks or stay and combat their fear (fight)-by taking counterproductive steps.
Symptoms one suffers from in Mageirocophobia, including anxiety are as follows:
- Extreme anxiety upon encountering a situation where one needs to cook
- Extreme anxiety when thinking of cooking
- Inability to manage anxiety
- Full-blown panic attacks
- Avoiding cooking
- Increased heart beat
- Muscle tension/tremors
- Feelings of dizziness/fainting
- Fear of an impending doom
- Excessive sweating
- Butterflies in the stomach
- Drying up of the mouth
Out of these, one should experience at least 3-5 symptoms, including anxiety lasting for at least 6-months, to be diagnosed with Mageirocophobia.
Causes of Mageirocophobia
Mageirocophobia, like all other phobias, has no known cause.
In this phobia, one is fearful of cooking because they assume they’ll make mistakes in the recipe/presentation or encounter a fire accident.
Specific phobias can be a result of a number of factors such as biological (genetics) and or environmental (past experiences or social learning).
Genetics refers to the genes and neurotransmitters in our body. Someone with a family history of a phobia/mental disorder has a higher chance of having the same or different disorder in the future.
This is because the genes of the parents are transferred to their children, thus any alteration in the genes of one’s parents is inherited by the child.
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 Mageirocophobia until and unless there is some trigger event.
A triggering event can be a past traumatic experience. For example, as a child/teenager one might have encountered a fire accident while cooking. Maybe they burned their hand or escaped a big hazard.
Another instance can be where they saw or heard someone encountering chip pan fires. They are fearful of cooking because of these unpleasant incidents.
Sufferers might also develop Mageirocophobia because they fear they will burn the food or it won’t taste good.
This can be because they had overly critical parents or households, where presentation and taste of the food held great importance.
Additionally, one can fear cooking because he gets anxious about whether the food he has cooked is hygienic, healthy or a source of any kind of illness.
Therefore, Mageirocophobia is caused by both genetics and environmental factors.
Treatment of Mageirocophobia
Mageirocophobia, like all other specific phobias, has no exclusive type of treatment that is specifically designed to treat it.
Like all the other specific phobias, Mageirocophobia is treated by a number of different therapies including, Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT) and or medications that lowers anxiety or other physical symptoms.
• Exposure Therapy
It is one of the most frequently used ways of treating patients with Mageirocophobia (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 someone cooking, 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 cooking.
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 a situation where he is asked to cook.
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.
However, these steps desensitize one to their fear of cooking, by exposing them to that stimuli repeatedly, until they learn to undergo the situation without anxiety/panic attacks.
• Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is one of the most frequently used treatments for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders.
Mageirocophobia is defined as the irrational fear of cooking. 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.
• Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
This is another effective therapy used to treat Mageirocophobia.
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.
• 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 meditation and 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.
They are not just one of the many treatment therapies used for Mageirocophobia, 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 Mageirocophobia.
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:
- 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.
2) Anti-anxiety Drugs
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 Mageirocophobia, 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).
Titles to read
by Robert Scher
by Mrs Jean N Petranto
- Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear into Vibrance, Strength, and Love
by Judith Orloff
by Claire Weekes
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1) What is the fear of cooking called?
Mageirocophobia is the irrational fear of cooking.
It is a type of specific phobia in which one experiences extreme anxiety when exposed to a situation where they have to cook.
Q2) How do I overcome my fear of cooking?
Therapies like exposure therapy and CBT, including medicinal drugs are effective in treating all specific phobias including Mageirocophobia.
Q3) What causes Mageirocophobia?
A genetic predisposition and or environmental factors cause one to develop Mageirocophobia.
Q4) Do I have Mageirocophobia?
One can be diagnosed with specific phobias if they experience extreme anxiety lasting for at least 6-months and other physiological symptoms.
Examples of other interesting phobias