What is Zelophobia? (A Comprehensive Guide)
This blog will take us through the causes, symptoms and treatments of Zelophobia.
Zelophobia is an irrational fear of jealousy. It is derived from the Greek word ‘Zelo’ meaning ‘jealousy’ and ‘phobos’ meaning ‘fear’.
According to ‘Psychology Today’ “Jealousy is a complex emotion that encompasses feelings ranging from suspicion to rage to fear to humiliation.
It strikes people of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations, and is most typically aroused when a person perceives a threat to a valued relationship from a third party.
The threat may be real or imagined.”
People suffering from Zelophobia are highly suspicious of their partners or friends because they possess strong emotions and are extremely possessive about them.
This emotion is so negative that the person suffering from Zelophobia starts avoiding the people they are close to in order to avoid the emotion of jealousy.
People mostly feel jealous in romantic relationships where each partner cannot tolerate their mate to be involved with anyone else.
According to research men tend to be more jealous of sexual infidelity, while women are more jealous regarding emotional infidelity.
Jealousy is widely regarded as a negative emotion because mostly it has reverted people to negative actions, but experts call it an emotion that binds relations together, by making them engage in behaviors that maintain important relations.
Zelophobia is an intense fear of jealousy.
The people who suffer from Zelophobia get a full-blown panic attack even if they think of jealousy or its subsequent actions.
They will go to great lengths to avoid the repercussions of their thoughts.
Causes of Zelophobia
Among the leading causes of Zelophobia following are the ones that are most prominent:
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of possessiveness
- Fear of abandonment
- Anxiousness and neuroticism
These can have a dire effect on the person and to avoid the subsequent feelings he will develop Zelophobia.
He uses the defence mechanism of Reaction Formation to avoid the anxiety related to jealousy.
Developing an aversion to jealousy itself and fearing it, will at one time get rid of the negative state of mind and on the other hand give rise to a panic attack.
- Genetic Predisposition
Every person has a genetic tendency to contract a disease or go through a mental illness.
This predisposition is embedded in our DNA and is handed down to us over the generations.
If the person’s ancestors suffered from anxiety disorders, phobias, mental illness, then chances are higher for him/her to suffer from the same or from either of these.
Phobias are familial and most often than not run in families. Their intensity may vary from person to person, from one relative to the other.
- Biological Cause
Hormones play an important role in causing anxiety disorders, specifically phobias as well.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormones (TSH) is directly related to the etiology of anxiety related problems that occur.
Symptoms that indicate a Thyroid malfunctioning are:
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Nervous demeanor
- Losing or gaining weight
Low levels of Testosterone (male hormone) can also lead to anxiety.
Serotonin, is also called a happy chemical and depletion of this hormone can also cause anxieties of varying levels.
Dopamine, the ‘feel good’ chemical or neurotransmitter is involved in happiness and a state of elatedness.
When the levels of Dopamine drop anxiety and a feeling of dread become a common forte.
Adrenaline rush is another biological factor that emanates the ‘flight or the fight’ response.
This response is triggered when the brain suffers from a threat. This threat may be caused by a stimulus that causes anxiety.
This stimulus is the very stimulus that initiates a phobia fear. In the case of Zelophobia, this stimulus will be jealousy.
- Behavioral Cause
Children learn behaviors and attitudes from people around them.
These people may be their parents, siblings, extended family members like uncles or aunts, grandparents or any significant others they are attached to.
- Traumatic Incidence/s
Zelophobia may also be caused due to an incident of infidelity that might have happened and invoked deep jealousy that could have been pathological, therefore, to avoid such a state of the mind or body the person may develop Zelophobia.
- Media, Literature & Facts
There are many movies that depict traumatic scenes of accidents happening up in the mountains or plains high on hilltops, these all contribute to the fear of confronting these places either in imagery or in person.
Symptoms of Zelophobia
Different people display the symptoms of the same phobia differently; with varying degrees of severity.
There are two types of symptoms; Physical symptoms and Psychological symptoms.
The Physical Symptoms include those that involve changes in the bodily sensations and are felt by the sufferer.
- rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Sweating and trembling
- dry mouth
- raised blood pressure
The Psychological Symptoms include those that impinge on the mind and are visible through a person’s behavior.
- feelings of dread
- fear of dying when at a high open place
- fear of losing control
- fear of harm
- fear of illness
- feeling of helplessness
- mood swings
Therapeutic Interventions for Zelophobia
Phobias can be treated through a variety of therapeutic interventions. a) Systematic Desensitization b) Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) c) Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP) d) Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction MBSR) d) meditation e) medication
- Systematic Desensitization
This is one of the most common therapies used in treating phobias and an effective way to desensitize the person suffering from phobia.
In this therapy the client with phobia is exposed to the stimulus gradually with varying degrees of severity, varying durations of time.
The degree of severity is hierarchical, ranging from low to high. Every time the ‘exposure’ of the feared stimulus is increased.
In Alliumphobia the client is exposed to images of garlic first. For the fear to be invoked during therapy, the patient must be exposed to an intense stimulus (one that is feared).
The aim of Systematic Desensitization is to remove the ‘feared stimulus’ and substitute it with a ‘relaxation response.’
Initially a relaxation technique that involves deep breathing is taught to the client.
Then the client is asked to present a list that has a hierarchical presentation of his fears, starting from the least fear evoking situation to the most.
The therapist takes the client through these situations via two methods:
a) In vitro – where the feared stimulus is made to imagine
b) In vivo – where the client visits the the feared place in reality
The exposure to the phobic stimulus is of varying durations, where the client exercises relaxation techniques and can revert to a previous non-threatening situation any time.
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
When phobias start to prevent the daily activities of the person, therapy becomes inevitable.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy is one such approach that shows the relation between thoughts, beliefs, feelings and behaviors.
It alters the way of identifying and substituting destructive thoughts and emotions that have a negative impact on behavior.
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. It helps the person change the way he thinks.
The therapist helps the client to discover the reason for this thought and behavior that follows.
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.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
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.
c) 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.
d) 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!
Alters the emotional attachment one has to his/her thoughts.
This attachment is actually the root cause of Alliumphobia and other phobias as well. Meditation helps to disconnect is by far the quickest, most effective way to do this.
Meditation helps one to detach their thoughts from the emotional content of the phobia.
Meditation helps you to alleviate all irrational thoughts.
Relaxation and maintaining focus gives one the strength to press into the phobic fear and gain access so that it can be eroded, session by session.
e) Group Therapy
Group Therapy is one of the most effective treatments available for phobias. In this the client does not find himself as a lone sufferer.
These groups are individuals who are afflicted with the same types of phobias or anxieties.
They come together to share their thoughts, experiences and their coping mechanisms. This also helps in developing a ‘sense of I am not the only one’ suffering.
These groups are a great support system for the person who suffers from anxiety.
Knowing that there are others like him gives a great relief and the encouragement that is received from these groups is unsurmountable.
f) Routine Modification
The person suffering from Bufonophobia is advised to alter his daily routine and bring about a change.
The change is always considered to be a healthy way of dealing with stress and phobias in particular.
- Adopt a walking regimen
- Induct exercise on a daily basis
- Alter eating and drinking habits
- Improving the sleep cycle
There are a number of medicines that the Psychiatrist can prescribe if the symptoms of Alliumphobia are severe and hinder the daily activities of the sufferer.
- 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 Alliumphobia 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is jealousy a negative emotion?
Jealousy is a negative emotion because it creates a rift in relations and brings upon intense feelings of anxiety that can emanate from one and so onto others as well, destroying the mental peace.
How can one get rid of the anxiety?
One can get rid of the anxiety by therapeutic interventions such as Cognitive Behavior therapy, mindfulness and meditation.
What is the fear of jealousy called?
The fear of jealousy is called Zelophobia.
Which medicines can be given in phobias?
Medicines like anti anxiety drugs or anti depressants can be given for treating phobias, if the need arises.
Below is a complete list of all Phobias which we currently cover.
Titles to Read
by Andy Stanley
- Jealousy–The Sin No One Talks about: How to Overcome Envy and Live a Life of Freedom by R.T. Kendall
- I Want to Change My Life: How to Overcome Anxiety, Depression and Addiction
by Steven M Melemis
by Jill Weber PhD
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