In this blog we will discuss the causes, symptoms and treatment of Phronemophobia.
Phronemophobia is an irrational fear of thinking.
The person suffering from Phronemophobia is scared of thinking perse and keeps him/herself away from thinking about things.
Thinking is a cognitive activity that involves the conscious participation of our brain to help us make sense of everything that is around us.
It helps us in processing stimuli and determines our reaction or response to it.
Our brain never stops thinking, and developing a fear of a process that never stops, leaves the sufferer in a sorry state of mind.
We are taught to think in certain ways depending on religious and cultural upbringing.
This takes direction with time interspersed with knowledge acquisition and experience. Thinking and the ability to think naturally develops in early childhood.
How we interact and respond to one another is determined by how we are brought up schematically.
Symptoms of Phronemophobia
These are intense and can begin without any prior warning.
The person suffering from Phronemophobia 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
- Bizarre behavior
The Psychological Symptoms
During panic attack the person suffering from Phronemophobia may experience the following
- fear of being in an institution (mental asylum)
- feelings of dread
- fear of being ridiculed
- Socially withdrawn
- fear of losing control
- fear of self harm
- fear of mental illness
- feeling of hopelessness
- feeling of disconnect
- lack of concentration
- mood swings
- afraid of rejection
- incapacitated to enjoy the company of their partner
- false happiness facade
Causes of Phronemophobia
As with most phobias and anxieties, there is no clear consensus about what causes Phronemophobia, but still a very plausible cause could be a fear of going insane or suffering from one or another mental illness.
The most common explanation is a childhood traumatic episode where a child may have experienced a parent or a loved one suffering from a mental illness.
The pain, caring responsibilities and the embarrassment at the public outbursts may definitely contribute to the onset of Phronemophobia.
The sufferer does not want to end up like that parent or significant other. He/She may also be scared of the physical display of spiked emotions in a mental illness and is thus afraid of making him/herself a public spectacle.
His thoughts would revolve around not being ‘normal’.
People raised in strict or conservative households often suffer from Phronemophobia, because they are not allowed to ‘speak their thoughts’. This restricts their thoughts.
Person suffering from Phronemophobia may suffer from low self-esteem, because he might have been raised to think that no matter what he achieves he may very well be inept.
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 Phronemophobia 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 Phronemophobia.
Other causes can be as follow:
- Learned behavior
- Traumatic experiences
Etiological Models of Phronemophobia
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 mental illnesses and how 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 Phronemophobia
Phronemophobia can be treated through different treatments.
These include Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), 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.
For the treatment of Phronemophobia, the therapist separates the problem into parts.
These may include: thoughts, feelings and actions.
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.
2) 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.
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!
In Phronemophobia 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.
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.
7) Psychiatric Medication
There are a number of medicines that the Psychiatrist can prescribe if the symptoms of Phronemophobia 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 Phronemophobia 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.
We are always here to answer if you have any queries.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can we lose our mind from anxiety?
Anxiety is quite intense in that it can cause confusion and irritability couples with intense emotions as well.
It does not mean that you are losing your mind, it only means you are overwhelmed by a mental state that is quite out of control.
What does it mean to lose your mind?
Losing one’s mind means that a person is suffering from acute anxiety and cannot think rationally.
Why is thinking so important?
Thinking is important because it is one of the distinguishing faculty that establishes a difference between humans and animals.
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
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Change Your Life Right Now with Simple Techniques to Manage and Retrain Your Brain from Anxiety and Depression, Learn How to Fight Panic, Negatives Thinking and Anger by Stephen Habits, Duane DeSalvo, et al.
- 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
Examples of other interesting phobias
Content of their thoughts
Phronemophobia is the fear of thinking. The origin of the word phron is Greek (meaning thinking) and phobia is Greek (meaning fear). Phronemophobia is considered to be a specific phobia, which is discussed on the home page. Phronemophobia is also related to Mnemophobia (fear of memories).
nt, usually a traumatic experience at an early age. Social phobias and agoraphobia have more complex causes that are not entirely known at this time. It is believed that heredity, genetics, and brain chemistry combine with life-experiences to play a major role in the development of phobias.