Have you ever been home alone and felt that someone was watching you? Did you get a prickly feeling down the back of your neck, as if someone was intently staring at you? Of course, you would not find anyone doing that since you are home alone. But sometimes, the feeling persists.
So, you end up thinking, what if your house is haunted? What if someone is watching you from a distance? How would you know if this person is hostile or safe? All these thoughts can simmer up a phobia of ghosts. Well, you are not alone if you feel this way. From a very young age, we are taught to be scared of the unknown through media consumption. Small kids are almost always afraid of ghosts, but the fear usually leaves us once we grow older and realize ghosts don’t exist.
Well, we don’t know for sure. Some people, though, retain this phobia of ghosts for all their lives. This fear is known as phasmophobia and is much more common than you think.
What is Phasmophobia?
Phasmophobia is defined as an intense and persistent fear of ghosts. It is a classified specific phobia that falls under the generic bracket of anxiety disorders. Specific phobias, like the phobia of ghosts, are fears triggered by particular objects or circumstances. They are almost always very distressing and extremely anxiety-inducing.
People suffering from phasmophobia may feel anxious at the slightest mention of the supernatural and can panic and be shocked. They may also suffer from related phobias such as fear of the darkness (nyctophobia), fear of shadows (Sciophobia), fear of death (Thanatophobia), fear of animals (Zoophobia), and so on. Almost all of these are linked with a phobia of ghosts, so it makes sense for them to occur in concurrence.
What are Phasmophobia Symptoms?
People who experience an intense fear of ghosts may exhibit symptoms such as the following:
- Sleep problems
- Panic attacks
- Dry mouth
- Breathing issues
- Feeling very cold
- Muscle tension
- Suspicious behaviour
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive fear or worry
Among these, certain symptoms can even be fatal. For example, someone with a phobia of ghosts may be frightened to the extent of suffering from cardiac arrest. Many people with this phobia suffer from a perpetual lack of sleep and daytime sleepiness. They cannot overcome the fear of ghosts and are often referred to psychiatrists for treatment. Interestingly, many people with phasmophobia have deep-seated anxiety issues that manifest as a fear of the unknown.
What Causes Phasmophobia?
While there is no exact cause to pinpoint for a phobia of ghosts, there can be certain factors that can increase its occurrence. Some of them are:
- Genetic factors- certain studies have linked a hereditary component to phobias and anxiety disorders.
- Cultural influences- we live in a society where the supernatural is highly discussed. Many shows, movies, and documentaries have shown ghosts and other supernatural beings. Phasmophobia causes may be linked to such cultural influences.
- Traumatic events- in some cases, such as losing a close one or experiencing a distressing event can also contribute to a phobia of ghosts.
- Learned influences- sometimes, learned experiences, such as witnessing a distressing event, can also cause phasmophobia. A negative experience with horror shows or a haunted house can lead to a persistent fear of monsters and ghosts.
How to Overcome Phasmophobia?
Yes, it is possible to get over a phobia of ghosts. While it is true that no one can confirm nor deny the existence of the supernatural (this is a whole other discussion), it is understood that at the root of a phobia of ghosts lies anxiety.
The associated phobias will also be addressed as long as the anxiety is addressed. It is entirely possible that some people with phobias such as phasmophobia may feel ashamed and embarrassed about their phobia and feel discouraged from sharing it with anyone or getting help.
However, living with a phobia can be a very tasking challenge since it can render people speechless even at impromptu times. The healthcare provider first performs a phasmophobia test to understand your anxieties. The good news is that treatments are available to treat phasmophobia and other related disorders and anxieties. Let us take a look at some of them.
1. Exposure Therapy
This is the most commonly practised phasmophobia treatment. Exposure therapy is a wonderful way to address a phobia of ghosts and other related phobias. In this, a healthcare practitioner slowly introduces a stimulus that affects the patients (exposing them to their fear) and helps them go through the feeling with guided relaxation methods.
Through habituation to the exposure, the patient gets used to the stimulus, can confront anxiety, and finally get over it. It is important to note that exposure therapy should only be practised with a licensed professional since it can also have triggering effects.
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This is also a very common treatment for a phobia of ghosts. This primarily consists of talk therapy with the patient, where the healthcare practitioner talks to them about their anxieties and fears to understand the reason behind the phobia of ghosts. By addressing their belief system and making them see why their fear is irrational, the healthcare practitioner can help the patient overcome the phobia or come to terms with controlling it.
While medications are not the first line of treatment for a phobia of ghosts, a certain combination of drugs can be helpful in treatment. Beta-blockers and anti-anxiety drugs can help reduce phobias such as a fear of ghosts. However, before taking any of these, please mention to your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs.
How can you Cope Up with Phasmophobia?
Living with any kind of anxiety can be extremely debilitating. When the anxiety is a phobia of ghosts, it can be difficult even to complete everyday tasks. Other than formal treatment, there are several ways in which you can manage your phobia. Some of these are:
- Relaxation techniques- deep breathing, meditation, and so on can be very helpful for people dealing with anxieties. Breathing properly can do wonders for our thoughts and can calm us down. Practicing meditation can calm your mind and regulate your thoughts more healthily. Other practices, such as colouring books or journaling, can also help positively divert anxiety and pent-up energy.
- Support groups- it is a great idea to join support groups if you have a phobia of ghosts. Here, you will meet people with similar fears as you do, which can help you deconstruct the idea that it is simply a phobia and that you are not alone in feeling that way. You can join a support group in person or online and find more helpful ways to regulate your anxiety.
Do not think that your phobia of ghosts is foolish or embarrassing in any way. This is like any other form of anxiety and can be treated in several ways. Overcoming a phobia like this can be very difficult, but it is important to go through it to live a happier and more productive life.