What is Psychophobia? (A Summary)
In this blog we will discuss the causes, symptoms and treatments.
Psychophobia is an irrational fear of the mind. People who suffer from this are afraid of their minds and also the minds of the others.
This means that they either fear the thoughts or are afraid of the actions that are the result of the thoughts of people.
They get anxious when they think of the mind. They can suffer a full-blown panic attack by merely thinking of what the mind is capable of.
Psychophobia is derived from the Latin word Psych’ meaning ‘mind’ and the Greek word ‘phobos’ meaning ‘fear.’
Psychophobia is a state in which the sufferer tries to avoid anything that is related to the mind – everything is related to our minds.
Our thoughts and the subsequent actions are all connected to the mind. Therefore, the person starts avoiding academic and occupational activities that require thinking.
This condition can easily dilapidate the entire lifestyle of the person suffering from Psychophobia.
Causes of Psychophobia
There are no known causes of Psychophobia. It can initiate suddenly after the person may go through a traumatic event in his life.
Such an event might be related to his academia, where pressure of exams or to perform better and compete may give rise to Psychophobia.
It can be work related where meeting deadlines and a mental block can push the person to fear the very tool that is responsible for thinking, that is the mind!
Genetics also play a pivotal role in causing Psychophobia.
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 Psychophobia 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 Psychophobia.
Other causes can be as follow:
• Learned behavior
• Traumatic experiences
Etiological Models of Psychophobia
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. Psychoanalytical Model
If a person has suffered from a traumatic experience in early childhood it can have a 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 people playing mind games to undermine others or Science fiction where people control another’s’ mind with psychic powers, 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.
Symptoms of Psychophobia
These are intense and can begin without any prior warning.
The person suffering from Psychophobia 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
The Psychological Symptoms
During panic attack the person suffering from Psychophobia may experience the following
- fear of fainting
- feelings of dread
- fear of dying
- fear of losing control
- fear of harm
- fear of illness
- feeling of hopelessness
- feeling of disconnect
- lack of concentration
- mood swings
Treatments of Psychophobia
Psychophobia 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 Psychophobia 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.
3) Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP)
In this therapy the client is asked to
1. Access the phobia in a safe environment.
2. Help them to replay the phobia along with happy emotions.
3. Disassociate from the phobia.
4) 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 Psychophobia 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.
6) 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.
7) 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.
8) Psychiatric Medication
There are a number of medicines that the Psychiatrist can prescribe if the symptoms of Psychophobia 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 Psychophobia 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.
9) 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
What is Psychophobia?
Psychophobia is the irrational fear of the mind.
How common is Psychophobia?
Psychophobia is not very common and can exist in many forms in varying degrees of intensity.
It can also be in the form of people being afraid of what others think.
What is the fear of going crazy?
The fear of going crazy is called Dementophobia.
Is Psychophobia like Schizophrenia?
No. Psychophobia and Schizophrenia are not the same.
Psychophobia is the fear of the mind and Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that involves losing touch with reality.