Aichmophobia is characterized by an extreme and irrational fear of sharp things such as pencils, knifes, needles, protruding corners or even a pointing finger or umbrella. Many people might associate these fears with what is more commonly known as trypanophobia, which is an extreme fear of hypodermic needles, or more generally, procedures involving injections. This phobia is most often seen in children, but when witnessed in adults, it usually indicates aichmophobia. If left untreated, aichmophobia can worsen over time and can even hinder normal everyday activities and development. Furthermore, in some extreme cases, those with this disorder can be fearful to a degree at which they faint when they are presented with a sharp object, especially needles. The attendant increases in heart rate and blood pressure that causes the fainting can be life threatening to some.
Symptoms of Aichmophobia
Identifying aichmophobia should be easy. If the person who has the disorder becomes extremely fearful or exhibits other nervous behaviors when exposed to sharp objects, they may have aichmophobia. Some of the most immediate symptoms that might appear include:
- Feelings of dread or panic when in the presence of sharp objects
- Automatic or uncontrollable reactions in response to their fear (fainting, for example)
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme avoidance
Causes of Aichmophobia
There is no universally specific cause of this disorder. Rather, unique and specific instances and possible evolutionary factors instill the victim with fear and a possible predisposition to developing aichmophobia. Some traumatic instances that could have instigated the phobia include painful medical procedures, either that the victim had to endure or simply witnessed, physical or emotional restraint, accidents that involved injury by a sharp object, or iatrophobia, an extreme and irrational fear of doctors.
Treatment of Aichmophobia
A psychotherapist or mental health expert is one of the best sources of treatment for aichmophobia. The goal of any such expert is to first target the initial inciting factor that caused the person’s irrational and extreme fear. The patient and therapist talk about why the fear is unfounded, how they can come to terms with any traumatic experiences that caused the phobia, as well as ways to deal with the symptoms of the condition. However, unlike other phobias, aichmophobia may be grounded in far more than simple psychological factors. Physical factors such as hypersensitivity may also contribute. In this case, exposure to a sharp object such as a hypodermic needle would understandably and justifiably cause panic and fear. Typical treatment for hypersensitivity is usually some type of anesthesia.
Other forms of psychotherapy include exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. With this type of treatment the patient meets with the therapist on a regular basis and, in a systematic and gradual progression, confronts the source of fear while learning to control their physical and mental reactions to it. By facing the phobia head on, the patient becomes accustomed to it and thus ultimately realizes that his or her initial fears were not grounded in real or imminent danger.
If you are looking for help with aichmophobia, it is not out of reach. Therapists, doctors and peer groups are always willing to help you deal with the psychological stresses and symptoms that come with this disorder. Do not let aichmophobia be an ongoing source of fear in your life.
American Psychiatric Association – info about phobias in general, causes, treatment.
Wikipedia – definition of aichmophobia.
Wikipedia – further info on fear of sharp objects.
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