Taphophobia is an extreme and irrational fear of being buried alive. While any live and conscious person might fear being buried alive, a taphophobic fears it to the extent that he or she avoids situations that others would most likely see as ordinary and unlikely to result in harm. A person with taphophobia also fears interment as a result of being falsely pronounced dead. This has been recorded throughout history as a relatively common phobia resulting in the construction of various “safety coffins.”
Causes of Taphophobia
Like all other phobias, there is no universally specific cause. Rather, unique and specific traumatic instances are usually to blame for such disorders. In regards to taphophobia, some of these instances could relate to early experiences involving being trapped or even simply viewing such situations on television or in movies. Furthermore, other mental disorders or behavioral issues such as substance abuse could be exacerbating the problem or even creating it. Regardless, if left untreated, phobias such as this one carry on into adulthood and become increasingly worse. The sufferer may avoid situations in which they must be in an enclosed building because they are afraid it may collapse or they may even avoid medical procedures that involve anesthesia out of fear of being falsely pronounced dead and eventually buried.
Symptoms of Taphophobia
If the person exhibits the symptoms that follow when presented with a situation in which burial or entrapment are remote possibilities, they may have this disorder. Some of the symptoms to look for are:
- Feelings of dread or panic when the subject of burial or entrapment comes up
- Automatic or uncontrollable reactions to fear of burial or entrapment
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme avoidance of situations in which burial or entrapment are even remote possibilities
Treatment of Taphophobia
Like many phobias, treatment for the disorder is usually best left to a mental health practitioner. 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. This type of therapy is usually very effective, with a vast majority of patients completely overcoming or successfully coping with taphophobia symptom-free for years, if not for the remainder of their lives.
Some therapists opt to use cognitive behavioral therapy. With this type of treatment, the patient meets with the therapist and in a systematic and gradual progression confronts the source of fear while learning to control the 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 searching for help with taphophobia, finding it is quite easy. There are plenty of therapists and peer groups willing to help not only with the disorder but also the psychological difficulties attendant with it. If self-help is not working, do not hesitate to reach out to these resources for support.
- American Psychiatric Association - info about phobias in general, causes, treatment.
- Wikipedia – general info about the fear.
- Fear of being burried alive