“Gelos” is the Greek term for laughter, and “phobia” is the Greek term for fear. Put them together and you get gelotophobia, which is the fear of being laughed at. While most of us don’t necessarily enjoy being laughed at, those that suffer from gelotophobia have an intense and excessive fear of it. A person with gelotophobia has a hard time differentiating laughter and always takes laughter to be a form of ridicule.

A person with this phobia may relate laughter they hear in a public place such as in a restaurant, and associate it with themselves and take it as a form of ridicule. For most people, laughter is seen as a happy reaction, but the opposite is true of gelotophobes. They always associate laughter with negativity and ridicule. People who suffer from this phobia are usually highly introverted and usually avoid social situations whenever possible, to avoid the fear of being laughed at. Gelotophobia can have many negative effects on a person’s life and can lead to other issues such as depression and social anxiety.

Common Facts about Gelotophobia

  • Social withdrawal to avoid being ridiculed
  • Appearing humorless or with no sense of humor
  • Humor and laughter are not enjoyable experiences
  • Lack of liveliness, spontaneity and joy
  • Physical disturbances such as tension headaches, blushing and sleep disturbances

Causes of Gelotophobia

Gelotophobia is a fairly new phobia and is being intensely researched. This, plus the fact that every individual is different and has had different life experiences, is the reason why there is no set cause of gelotophobia.

There are some speculated causes though. Like most other phobias, gelotophobia is probably the result of a traumatic event experienced earlier in life. A person who was never taken seriously or constantly laughed at as a child may grow up to develop gelotophobia. Another possible cause could be someone who was constantly laughed at or bullied as a teenager or young adult may develop gelotophobia. Whatever the cause may be, gelotophobia can be a life altering fear, which can either be the result of, or lead to low self-esteem, social anxiety or depression. This is why it’s important to seek treatment if you think you suffer from gelotophobia.

Since this phobia is relatively new there are no medical treatments for it and other forms of treatment are still being researched. Therefore, seeking help from a professional psychologist or psychiatrist is your best bet. A professional psychologist or psychiatrist would use different types of therapy to help you overcome your fears.

Realizing that you suffer from gelotophobia is the first step towards recovery. Seeking professional help is the next step. A professional healthcare provider can help you better understand yourself and the phobia from which you suffer.

View Resources:

  • Wikipedia – Information regarding gelotophobia

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