Every day, millions of people suffer from phobias. A phobia is an extreme, irrational fear of something or someone. Most of us have experienced the fear of breathing underwater, on heights, or in the dark. These are common phobias. But rhabdophobia (aka phobia about magic) is less common, and psychologists have long studied it.
Rhabdophobia can be highly debilitating, interfering with your ability to work, sleep, socialize, and even leave the house. Most people don’t realize they’re not alone; others have rhabdophobia. This article examines the definition and causes of rhabdophobia and ways to relieve its symptoms for sufferers! Let’s take a look.
What Is Rhabdophobia or the Fear of Magic?
Rhabdophobia, or fear of magic, is considered a specific phobia. People experience this phobia in particular ways. They fear being tricked, fooled, deceived by tricksters, or harmed in some way by magicians.
In either case, the afflicted person experiences anxiety, autonomic nervous system arousal, and even physical symptoms of fear when confronted with magic or magicians on television shows, in the movies, on the stage, or at a magic show.
Most people who fear magic fear how it seems to control or defy customary, consensual laws of reality. Some are also afraid of being cut off from existence entirely. But for most people with rhabdophobia, the fear of magic stems from a more specific source of anxiety.
What Are the Causes of Rhabdophobia?
Rhabdophobia is often rooted in childhood trauma. Children often absorb their fears from their parents, including their reactions to potentially scary situations. For example, a child raised by parents who are afraid of magicians may grow up to be frightened of magicians as well. These may be caused by genetics and may run in the family.
Traumatic events can also cause rhabdophobia. A survivor of a traumatic event may develop a phobia in that event’s aftermath. A minor incident can also trigger it. A phobia of magic, for example, may be triggered by a frightening magic show experience.
Some people can also develop as a result of a perceived threat. For example, if you grow up in an area where unrealistic activities are prevalent, you may fear them.
What Are the Symptoms of Rhabdophobia?
Phobias are extreme, irrational, persistent fear of an object, activity, place, or situation that creates anxiety. The symptoms of a phobia include:
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Feeling faint and nausea
- Increased sweating
- Muscle tension
- Increased blood pressure
- Feeling trapped
- Being unable to think clearly
- Being unable to move
How to Deal With Rhabdophobia?
The treatment for rhabdophobia either includes medicines or a combination of different therapies. The type of therapy a person gets will depend on how severe their phobia is and what is causing it. Psychotherapy, medication, and exposure therapy effectively treat phobia.
It involves exposing the sufferer repeatedly to whatever they are most afraid of, most exposure sessions being forms of exposure therapy. In the case of rhabdophobia, it gradually introduces the sufferer to images of magic that aren’t scary and then moves on to more disturbing scenes that might contain anything from a rabbit on a unicycle to a tiger emerging from an empty box.
Another way around this is hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy for rhabdophobia builds on CBT principles by training patients to control anxieties through the relaxation techniques they learn in sessions. It is an altered state of consciousness where the person is awake but very relaxed, similar to daydreaming. The goal of hypnotherapy for phobias is to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Medications for treating phobias include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, beta-blockers, and beta-blockers in combination with antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and tricyclic antidepressants.
While Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium, are sedatives that affect your nervous system. They treat phobias by calming your nerves. Antidepressants, on the other hand, are also usually effective in treating rhabdophobia. Some medications have side effects and may interact with others you’re taking. Your doctor should be aware of any medications you’re taking already.
While it is generally true that the best course of action is to seek professional help, you should never ignore any form of phobia. It can slowly begin to control your life, making it harder for you to perform even the simplest tasks.
However, the good news is that effective treatments are available today to help you overcome your fear or phobia. If you or your loved one has rhabdophobia, consult a mental health professional to get the best treatment plan for your phobia.
- Ollendick, T. H., Öst, L.-G., Ryan, S. M., Capriola, N. N., & Reuterskiöld, L. (2017). Harm beliefs and coping expectancies in youth with specific phobias. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 91, 51–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2017.01.007
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