Anthropophobia is the illogically ‘extreme, irrational and unwarranted fear of people or society.
It is a social anxiety disorder which is used “wrongly” and interchangeably with many other social phobias.
The main difference between the two is that: in Anthropophobia, the individual fears people in most or all situations, whilst in other conditions, e.g. only fearing people during public speaking (glossophobia) or when eating before others, as is the case with social phobias. Henceforth, the difference between other social phobias and the extreme fear of people is slight and not glaringly visible, and hence diagnosis ranges from difficult to almost impossible.
* “In Anthropophobia, the individual’s irrational fear may extend to close friends, loved ones and family relatives. The phobic perceives them as potential danger or as threatening, talk more of a stranger.
* The person with the extreme fear of people understands that his/her fear is illogical. Despite this, they have no control over the phobia and how it affect their daily lives, education or occupation. They also manoeuvre methods that can help them avoid contacts with people and society, thereby reducing their interaction with other individuals.
Causes of fear of people phobia
* An intense negative or traumatic experience with people in the past involving friends or family members might have triggered the phobia of people.
* The mind can sometimes wrongfully or be passively inducted to learn to fear people.
* People with general tendency of being highly strung, over tenses or overanxious and extremely nervous might also develop Anthropophobia.
* Physical problems or adrenal insufficiency can also lead to this condition.
Symptoms of Anthropophobia
Feeling antisocial for a little rational while is okay and normal, but when this exceeds its limit and stars to keep us away from our family, work and other relationships, it’s time to bring out the big guns.
Mood swings, short bouts of anger, can lead to the “feeling of being withdrawn from associating with people”
In case of Anthropophobia however, the mere thought or perception of socializing with people can stimulate a plethora of physical or psychological anxiety symptoms, These include;
* Averison of social events at all costs- going to great lengths to do so.
* Panicking at the thought of going out or experiencing terror when having to meet people. Symptoms may be present days before the actual encounter with people.
* Increased heart rate and fast heart palpitations, shortness of breath, feeling like being choked, difficulty in swallowing, increased blood pressure, sweating, trembling, crying etc are a few common physical symptoms of such panic attacks.
* Thoughts of death (Thanatophobia) fear of embarrassing oneself in public are also experienced by the phobic.
Treating and overcoming Anthropophobia.
The most effective andfast working techniques is the self help techniques:
* Phobics have to understand that this is paranoia that can be overcome.
* Repeating the mantra/line that people do not notice what I think they notice can help.
* Employing CBT and BT (Cognitive behavior and behavior therapies) which include changing thoughts and behavior into positive ones into negative ones. This means: people are sneering at me because I’m too lanky should be changed to people are not thinking about me at all and so on. Writing down negative and subsequent positive thoughts can also benefit the phobic.
Professional therapies are also beneficial in helping one overcome Anthropophobia. Hypnotherapy in particular can help one get to the origin of the problem, following which one can utilize systematic and/or gradual desensitization that involves exposing the phobic in-tandem to stronger fear triggers (stimulus).
Another popular and highly effective therapy to help overcome the fear of people is Morita Therapy from Japan.
This is based on Zen Buddhism principles that help correct phobias by first helping the individual accept them. So, instead of pushing the fear aside, one learns to accept being afraid and then find ways to deal with it positively.
Talk therapy is an important part of coping and overcoming the fear of people phobia. Loved ones and friends of the victims of phobophobia can also render help by being supportive and offering encouragement as far as possible.
It is very important to deal with these symptoms by seeking help. Families and friends should also support the individual as much as possible and encourage him/her to employ self help techniques like deep breathing, meditation etc.