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Phobias: The Strange, the Common and the Intriguing – Part 2 

by Carolyn Lee Apr 29, 2019

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“Expose yourself to your deepest fear. After that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” – Jim Morrison 


In the last article, we took a quick look at a few unusual phobias. To recap, phobias are persistent unrealistic fears of a person, animal, activity or situation. They can be classified as anxiety disorders.  

Now, let’s have a closer look at some of these phobias, the causes, symptoms and possible treatment options. 


Phagophobia: fear of swallowing 

Yes, there are people with a deep fear of swallowing food, drinks, and medication. Someone with this phobia may experience an extreme gag reflex to swallowing medicine or hard food. If left untreated, Phagophobia can lead to other phobias such as Cibophobia (fear of certain foods) or Emetophobia (fear of vomiting or vomit). This can cause other complications that could affect social activities and impact mental health.

Possible cause(s): Phagophobia may be a result of a strong negative experience while eating. It can be linked to other food fears. 

Symptoms: throat muscles can become tight and constrict, inability to take oral medication, specifically pills, a sudden disinterest in most foods and drinks, severe weight loss, etc. 

Possible treatment options: Once you’ve identified it, there are options for help. Some persons may prefer self-help methods, which involve individual or group experiences. There is also a myriad of resources online that may be helpful. However, a useful step is to speak to a professional (therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist) for expert guidance. 


Taphophobia: fear of being buried alive 

While this can be scary, many of us do not share this intense fear. Persons with Taphophobia tend to avoid situations that others may view as ordinary or unlikely to cause harm. This is not a ‘new’ phobia. Throughout history, persons have requested “escape coffins” for fear of being buried alive.   

Possible cause(s): There is no universal specific cause for Taphophobia. It can be linked to a particularly traumatic event or to an early childhood experience of being trapped. Mental disorders and behavioural issues can contribute to this fear. 

Symptoms: a feeling of terror at the mention of burial or being trapped, shortness of breath, trembling, rapid heartbeat or uncontrollable reactions to burial or being trapped, etc. 

Possible treatment options: It is highly recommended that treatment is done by a mental health practitioner.  


Anthophobia: fear of flowers 

We were just as surprised as you are to discover this phobia. This is an uncommon phobia, yet it causes deep distress to those who have it. Persons with Anthophobia realise that they are not under threat from flowers but struggle with accepting this. 

Possible cause(s): This may be the result of a possible traumatic event from the past that involved flowers. Anthophobia may also result from content (movies, TV shows, and videos) or (terrifying) conversations about flowers. 

Symptoms: panic attacks, dizziness, extreme fear, dread or panic (around flowers or thinking about them), dry mouth, inability to think or speak clearly, etc. 

Possible treatment options: A mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist) may prescribe a course of treatment. It may include the use of medication to treat the symptoms of Anthophobia. To control or be cured of this phobia, work with a therapist to treat what may be causing it. 

If you are struggling with a phobia and need help, there are professionals who you can work with. Do not allow fear to steal your joy. Get the help you need now! 


Sources: Harvard Health Publishing, Medical News Today, MedicineNet, All About Counselling.