In our article “The 15 strangest phobias that exist” we echoed the strangest phobias that some individuals may suffer. Without a doubt, one of the most atypical and curious phobias is the hippo-tomonstruosisquipedaliophobia or phobia to long words . People who suffer from this phobia must feel a great discomfort just hearing the name of the disorder they suffer from.
As with all phobias, hypopotomonstrualis is an irrational fear, which causes great discomfort and causes those affected with this pathology to tend to avoid those situations in which they come into contact with the phobic stimulus, that is, long words.
A very strange phobia
The truth is that this phobia is rare, as are other strange phobias such as arachibutyrophobia, which is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the palate, and can appear, for example, when a child is about to choke on peanut butter toast.
These types of phobias, which are caused by a specific stimulus, are called specific phobias. These include: fear of spiders or arachnophobia, fear of clowns or coulrophobia, or fear of flying or aerophobia, among others.
- There are other types of phobias that you can learn about in our article: “Types of Phobias: Exploring Fear Disorders”
Classical conditioning and its relationship to phobias
Fear is an emotion that can be adaptive just like anxiety; however, fear does not always have an objective and real cause, as people are capable of developing an irrational fear of practically everything that can be perceived or imagined: clowns, spiders, food, etc.
Phobias are usually learned, that is, that in an unconscious way we can associate a stimulus (that originally did not produce fear) with a negative emotion. This can occur due to the intensity of the negative emotion, which converts that originally neutral stimulus into a phobic stimulus. If we suffer from a phobia, every time we see the feared stimulus or imagine it we feel an intense discomfort, which causes an associative learning called classical conditioning.
Causes of hypo-potomonasquipedaliophobia
Generally, hypopotomonstrosisquipedaliophobia occurs in people who have experienced childhood trauma related to long words . They may have had a bad experience in a spelling contest, or they may have been very embarrassed in front of the class when they had been asked to read a word that they did not understand or could not pronounce well. A traumatic event like this is enough to start the development of a phobia.
Research makes it clear that associative learning is behind phobias, either directly or indirectly (for example, watching a movie about killer clowns and developing a clown phobia), although some say that genes play a role, as some people are more likely than others to suffer from phobic disorders.
Phobias belong to the group of anxiety disorders, since irrational fear causes great discomfort and people who suffer from these pathologies suffer a lot. This suffering is such that they tend to avoid the situations, objects and thoughts they fear.
Therefore, the symptomatology of phobias is characterized by a great fear or panic, accompanied by a great feeling of anguish, anxiety and discomfort, which can make the person feel stomach pain, headache, rapid pulse, etc. When the subject has to face a situation in which, for example, he has to pronounce a long word, he will try not to have to face that feared stimulus to avoid feeling bad.
The vast majority of phobias share physical, cognitive and behavioral symptoms. In summary, they are as follows:
- Rapid pulse and increased heart rate
- Feeling of shortness of breath and suffocation. Hyperventilation
- Excess sweat
- Anxiety and distress
- Dry mouth
- Catastrophic Thoughts
- Loss of concentration and disorientation
- Great Fear or Terror
- Upset stomach
- Headache and muscle tension
- Avoidance of the Feared Stimulus
The treatment for this phobia is the same as for other phobic disorders. Different methods can be used, for example, hypnosis or mindfulness, the latter to accept one’s experience as a person with a phobia and thus reduce the intensity of the symptoms. However, the most commonly used techniques for the treatment of phobias belong to cognitive behavioural therapy, which helps to confront the feared situations and replace irrational thoughts with more adaptive ones.
Exhibition techniques are the most used, specifically systematic desensitization . This method consists of gradually exposing the patient to the phobic stimulus and, at the same time, acquiring more useful coping skills. Thanks to the different therapeutic sessions, the patient is able to face the phobic stimulus, and little by little can pronounce those words that previously produced great anxiety.
Other fundamental treatment techniques are relaxation and breathing techniques. In addition, those with more severe cases may take some drugs (if advised by a therapist or psychiatrist) to reduce anxiety, but always in combination with psychological therapy.
New technologies applied to the treatment of phobic disorders
Cognitive behavioural techniques have been applied for several decades to treat phobias , but new technologies are also beginning to play a role as psychological therapy. Virtual reality and augmented reality have proven to be very effective in the treatment of phobias, since they allow the simulation of those phobic stimuli that patients fear. Virtual reality, for example, can be useful for the patient to be in a room where larger and larger spiders appear, which would belong to exposure therapy.
In recent years, mobile applications are also appearing to treat phobias. You can learn more about these apps in our article: “8 apps to treat phobias and fears from your smartphone”