What is Orthophobia? (An Overview)
In this blog we will discuss the symptoms, causes and treatment of Orthophobia.
Fear of property is called Orthophobia.
Property includes one’s house, cars, money, jewellery and or any other expensive thing which can be sold in the future in return for money.
In simpler words, it means someone’s belongings or things in his possession.
One spends his entire life in the quest to make as much property as possible.
In this competitive world, people, even children aim to gain more money, more gold, more houses to secure their and their family’s future.
One’s possessions are highly valued and taken good care of.
However, sufferers of Orthophobia are terrified of property. Being a specific phobia, it comes under the category of anxiety disorders in the DSM-V.
When exposed to property (such as money, gold etc), one suffers from extreme anxiety.
Even the thought of property is enough is to instigate anxiety.
This anxiety causes hurdles in one’s daily activities, which is referred to as social occupational functioning in the DSM-V.
These hindrances are a result of avoidance one does in order to get rid of his unpleasant feelings.
Someone suffering Orthophobia avoids getting exposed to property.
For example, they won’t buy jewellery, expensive things, cars or new houses. They will prefer living a simplistic life.
One will even avoid going to places, such as one’s house, parties etc where they feel they might get exposed to property (for instance, an expensive car or a luxurious house).
Orthophobia, as a result can cause one to develop a fear of money (Chrometophobia) or fear of gold (Aurophobia).
Because these acts of avoidance are repetitive, an individual becomes obsessive and repeated actions can turn into compulsions.
Thus, this social occupational dysfunction can lead to the formation of OCD and or depression in the future.
If one is unable to avoid his fear stimuli, which is property in the case of Orthophobia, they experience extreme anxiety which causes full-blown panic attacks.
Orthophobia is an irrational fear of property. It is a type of specific phobia in which one suffers extremely high levels of anxiety when exposed to their fear stimuli.
Symptoms of Orthophobia
All anxiety disorders, including specific phobias, have anxiety as their pivotal symptom.
Therefore, someone suffering from Orthophobia will experience extreme anxiety when exposed to their fear stimuli, property.
Specific phobias are irrational fears. Similarly, this fear of property is completely irrational because property causes no potential harm to anyone.
Their fear is out of touch with reality and thus, are unable to justify their phobia.
Avoidance as mentioned earlier is repetitive.
These recurrent actions maintain one’s fear by producing feelings of security, which makes one believe that property is to be feared of.
According to the DSM-V, to be diagnosed with Orthophobia, one needs to experience anxiety lasting for at least 6 months and at least 3-5 symptoms (from the list mentioned below).
- Excessive anxiety when exposed to property
- Excessive anxiety when thinking about property
- Inability to manage anxiety
- Full-blown panic attacks
- Avoiding property
- 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
Causes of Orthophobia
It is argued that all anxiety disorders, including specific phobias have no real cause.
They are caused by either a genetic predisposition and or environmental factors.
According to the genetic/biological model, specific phobias are developed due to a genetic predisposition.
Someone who has a family history of anxiety disorders has a higher chance of developing Orthophobia.
This is because any alteration in the genes of his parents will be transferred to him.
Someone who has alterations in their neurotransmitter levels of the brain can also develop Orthophobia.
These alterations are low dopamine levels and high serotonin levels.
This genetic tendency to develop a specific phobia is further explained by the Diathesis-stress relationship.
This suggests that someone with a genetic predisposition will develop Orthophobia only in the presence of the correct environmental trigger event.
A sufferer might fear property because of the fact that people get terminated 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 develop Orthophobia because he has seen people or his own family members quarrelling over it due to greed.
The negativity property spreads in one’s life can be the biggest reason for Orthophobia to develop.
Children learn to be terrified of property by seeing their parents act this way when exposed to it.
Therefore, Orthophobia is caused by both genetics and environmental factors.
Treatment of Orthophobia
Orthophobia, like all other specific phobias, has no exclusive type of treatment that is specifically designed to treat it.
Like all the other specific phobias, Orthophobia is treated by a number of different methods: Psychological treatment and Biological treatment.
- Psychological Treatment
• Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is one of the most frequently used treatments for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders.
Orthophobia is defined as the irrational fear of property. 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 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.
• Exposure Therapy
It is one of the most frequently used ways of treating patients with Orthophobia (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 his property (house/cars etc) 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 property.
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 property.
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 property, 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 Orthophobia, the patient will be advised on how to overcome his fear of property.
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 Orthophobia. 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 Orthophobia, 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.
- Biological Treatment
• Drug Therapy
Drugs are used to reduce the physical symptoms caused by Orthophobia.
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 Orthophobia, 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).
Below is a complete list of all Phobias which we currently cover.
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
by Jon Hershfield MFT , Shala Nicely LPC , et al.
- 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.
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 money?
Chrometophobia is the irrational fear of money. One fears its negative aspects and or touches it.
Q2) How is Orthophobia treated?
Like all other specific phobias, Orthophobia is treated using CBT, DBT and or medicinal drugs.
Q3) What causes Orthphobia?
A genetic predisposition with the right environmental trigger event can cause Orthophobia
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