What is Scelerophobia? (A Comprehensive Guide)

In this blog we will discuss the causes, symptoms and treatments of Scelerophobia.

What is Scelerophobia?

Scelerophobia is the fear of robbers and burglars, and someone with this fear might often not be able to sleep at night because they are just so terrified of running into a thief or burglar, or of someone robbing them in their home. The word Scelerophobia comes from the Latin word “scelero”, which means “wickedness” or “crime”.

Scelerophobia is an irrational and intense fear of burglars and people who indulge in crimes.

Scelerophobia is the fear of burglars, bad men or crime in general.

The word Scelerophobia is derived from the Latin word, ‘scelero’ meaning ‘wickedness or crime’ and ‘phobos’ meaning ‘fear’.

The rate of crime is high now in the current times and people are more afraid of falling victims to it.

Therefore, if they fear crimes and the criminals it might not be invalid or irrational.

But fearing to an extent that something is bound to happen at all times and bordering a panic attack, is a condition that is part of anxiety disorder.

People suffering from Scelerophobia may be afraid of going out to far off places far from being looted.

They can even develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD) and will keep on checking and locking the doors and fastening the windows in  fear that they will be burgled.

They will also not travel alone in the same fear.

Scelerophobia is an intense fear of being robbed or being the victim of a crime, they are also afraid of the people who commit these crimes and will do everything that they can to avoid the anxiety.

The people suffering from Scelerophobia will always be tired of fulfilling their compulsions to evade their anxieties, thus affecting their academic, occupational and daily living.

Causes of Scelerophobia

As is common in specific phobias, the cause Scelerophobia 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 Scriptophobia.

Other causes can be as follow:

• Learned behavior

• Traumatic experiences

Etiological Models of Scelerophobia

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. 

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.

Women are more afraid of crime than men and it is commonly found that their ci=oping and fighting back skills are not as those of the men (with the exception of a few).

People who are elderly will also suffer from Scelerophobia because these people are on the target list of criminals as they cannot fend for themselves as a young or a middle aged person can.

Scelerophobia can also be developed by Trauma Transference, that is when a previous traumatic experience like seeing someone or a loved one being victimized 

Trauma transference which occurs from watching a friend or a loved one become the victim of crime. These people are likely to develop extreme obsessions regarding their security.

Media plays an integral role in creating a hype about crimes and romanticising the criminals.

The continuous news of people being shot, raped or kidnapped instill fear in people and they can easily become Scelerophobe. 

Symptoms of Scriptophobia

To avoid the experience of anxiety itself the individual may develop Scelerophobia, so as to avoid the very cause of the uncomfortable condition. 

  • Anxiety at the thought of writing in public.
  • Anxiety when seeing other people write in public.
  • Unable to be involved in activities that include writing in public.

Physical Symptoms

These are intense and can begin without any prior warning.

The person suffering from Scelerophobia experiences the full physical intensity of either all of these or some of these in combination with others.

  • hot flashes or chills
  • headaches
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • shortness of breath a choking sensation
  • rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • feeling faint
  • numbness 
  • dry mouth
  • ringing in ears
  • confusion 
  • hyperventilation
  • raised blood pressure
  • Bizarre behavior when expected to write in public

The Psychological Symptoms

During panic attack the person suffering from Scelerophobia may experience the following

  • fear of being victimized in a crime
  • feelings of dread
  • fear of being terminated
  • Socially withdrawn
  • fear of losing control
  • fear of self harm
  • fear ofpen/pencil/other writing tools
  • self-blame
  • feeling of hopelessness
  • Feeling of helplessness
  • feeling of disconnect
  • confusion
  • lack of concentration
  • anger
  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • afraid of rejection
  • incapacitated to enjoytraveling away from home

Treatments of Scelerophobia

Scelerophobia can be treated through different treatments.

These include Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Exposure Therapy, 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 Scelerophobia, the therapist separates the problem into parts.

These may include: thoughts, feelings and actions. 

  1. What thought is invoked at the thought of criminals?
  2. How do you feel when you see people who commit a crime?
  3. What do you do when you witness a crime? 

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) Exposure Therapy 

It is one of the most frequently used ways of treating patients with Scelerophobia.

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.

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 that makes him anxious.

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 real life situations.

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. 

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 Scriptophobia 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. 

5) 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 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 Scelerophobia 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 Scelerophobia 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 the phobia of someone breaking into your house?

The phobia of someone breaking into your house is called Scelerophobia.

How can I get over my fear of thieves?

You can take up CBT and mIndfulness exercises to get rid of your fear of thieves.

How do you deal with someone who steals from you?

If someone steals from you then it should be reported to the authorities first.

Is stealing a mental illness?

Not all stealing is a mental illness, only kleptomania is called compulsive stealing.

Do thieves feel guilty?

Guilt varies from person to person. Some thieves might feel guilty ,others might not.


  • www.psychtimes.com
  • www.verywellmind.com
  • www.amazon.com
  • www.transformpsychology.com
  • www.brain.org

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!