Amatophobia: causes and symptoms of fear of dust and dirt

Few sensations are as painful and make you feel as bad as fear, which can manifest itself as the presence of real or imagined danger. Fear arises when a stressful stimulus causes the release of a series of substances that cause the heart to accelerate, increase breathing, and prepare the body for the fight-flight response.

Although fear is an adaptive response, it can sometimes cause a great deal of suffering to the person who suffers from it. Especially when the fear is not real and manifests itself over and over again.

In this article we will talk about a phobic disorder called amatophobia. In other words, an irrational fear of dust and dirt.

    What are phobias

    Phobias are irrational and pathological fears that cause great suffering to the person who suffers from them. They are included in anxiety attacks because their main symptom, in addition to fear, is the anxiety and distress that the person is experiencing. Phobias cause the phobic individual to avoid the stimulus that causes him discomfort.

    When we talk about phobic disorders there are three types. Agoraphobia, which is an irrational fear that is characterized by the fact that the person who suffers from it is afraid of being in situations where they will not be able to receive help in the face of a crisis. Social phobia is a disorder (or disorders) that appear in social interaction with other people, for example, erythrophobia or fear of turning red. Finally, specific phobias are those which develop in front of a specific object or being. For example, arachnophobia or fear of spiders, coulrophobia or fear of clowns or amatophobia or fear of dust, which we will discuss in more detail in the following lines.

    Causes of amatophobia

    Amatophobia is the lingering, irrational fear of dust and dirt. Like any phobia, it causes avoidance of the dreaded stimulus and high levels of anxiety. It can affect the normalcy of an individual’s life, as dust can appear anywhere. For example, in the house itself.

    Among the most common causes that we can find …

    1. Traumatic experience

    Traumatic experiences can be the source of a phobia, due to classical conditioning a person can learn to be afraid of a harmless stimulus due to the association that occurs when presenting two stimuli simultaneously. Classical conditioning became popular thanks to the experiments of John Watson. To learn more about classical conditioning, you can read our article: “Classic conditioning and its most important experiences”.

    Due to the intense emotions we can experience with people, a single traumatic incident can cause a person to develop this pathology.

    2. Learn by observation

    But traumatic experiences are not the only cause of this disorder and an individual does not have to undergo the classic conditioning on their own skin. One need only look at another person going through the traumatic event, for a phenomenon called proxy conditioning. In the case of amatophobia, watching a movie in which toxic dust appears can lead to the development of this disorder.

    3. Biological predisposition

    Phobia experts say that humans are biologically predisposed to experience irrational fears because the emotion of fear is adaptive and usually does not respond to logical arguments. This is because it has its origin in primitive and non-cognitive associations.

    Symptoms of this disorder

    Phobias belong to the group of anxiety disorders because anxiety is one of the characteristic symptoms along with fear.

    When the phobia develops, the phobic subject experiences cognitive symptoms, such as anxiety, catastrophic thoughts, irrational fear, or dizziness. Behavioral symptoms also appear. For example, the attempt to avoid the dreaded stimulus. Finally, physical and physiological symptoms such as hyperventilation, rapid pulse or chest tightness are also common.


    Anxiety disorders, and in particular phobias, have been studied scientifically on several occasions. Based on extensive research data, psychological therapy appears to be very effective.

    There are many types of therapy, but for the treatment of phobic disorders, cognitive behavioral therapy is often used, which applies different methods such as relaxation techniques or exposure techniques.

    In fact, an ideal technique for treating phobias is systematic desensitization., Which consists of gradually exposing the patient to the phobic stimulus while learning different coping strategies such as relaxation techniques.

    • If you want to know how this technique works, just read our article: “What is systematic desensitization and how does it work?”

    New therapy to treat phobias

    In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, other therapeutic models have also been used in recent years and have been shown to be effective.. Of particular note are two, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or acceptance and engagement therapy, both of which are referred to as third generation therapies or contextual therapies.

    In addition, thanks to new technologies, virtual reality therapies have been applied, which expose the patient to the phobic stimulus without having to be present. With the technological advancement of smartphones, it is possible to find this tool in certain applications.

    • If you want to know more about this topic, you can read our article: “8 applications to treat phobias and fears of your smartphone”

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