Anatidaephobia: the phobia of jokes linked to the ducks that watch us

There are many stimuli and situations in the world that can frighten us. Having it is in most cases adaptive, as it is an emotion that induces us to active responses to face or flee a potential threat, allowing us to survive and adapt to situations.

However, sometimes the panic reaction that may be felt in the face of a stimulus is excessive in relation to the threat posed by the stimulus, or the stimulus in question presents no danger to the subject in question. This is what happens to people who suffer from phobias. Among them, some are better understood than others, which can sometimes be seen socially as rare or extravagant. in fact, fictitious phobias have been developed in order to generate a comic counterpoint to this type of pathology.

An example of the latter is anatidaephobia: the fear of being observed by a duck. This concept gives us the opportunity to differentiate between probable and improbable phobias. And are some of these anxiety disorders so specific that they seem like sheer fiction.

    What is anatidaephobia?

    The term anatidaephobia refers to a specific fictitious phobia which brings together on the one hand the characteristics of this phobia specific to animals and on the other hand of a situational type. More precisely, we are talking about the fear of being observed by a duck.

    As a specific phobia (lying), it involves the existence of panic and fear of a particular stimulus or type of stimulation, causing exposure to the stimulus or the idea that a level of anxiety will appear very high. This anxiety can lead to different physiological symptoms such as headache, hypertension, increased heart rate and breathing, sweating, fainting or even anxiety attack. Also, to avoid these sensations the subject who suffers from it usually runs away or adopts avoidance behaviors, Or endure with very high discomfort.

    In this case, anatidesphobias, the term that identifies it was coined by a designer.

    The putative effect of anatidaephobia can be variable. Most people have little contact with these birds, it is not common to find them, which apparently makes it difficult for this fear to cause great difficulty, beyond avoiding parks, ponds and lakes. However, the fear in question would appear when observing these birds, which would include the possibility of being observed without realizing it. for that avoidant behaviors might appear even in less obvious places, Like the street (it is a bird with the ability to fly at the end and in the head). On top of that, he can generate relationship problems, derived from the possible ridiculousness of his fear.

    Now … what exactly makes this phobia a joke unlike other true ones that seem so absurd to be so specific? The key lies in the possible causes.

      the causes

      The causes of the existence of different phobias have been the subject of scientific discussions throughout history, developing different perspectives and theoretical models in this regard.

      Among them, there would be, in the case of animal and situational phobias, Seligman’s preparation theory. This author considered that a possible explanation of phobias would be linked to inheritance, as our ancestors would have learned and transmitted the propensity to react with fear to stimuli that threatened their survival, such as spiders and scorpions and even some species of birds.

      In this sense, throwing in the imagination, the phobia that concerns us could have in part an evolutionary meaning: ducks are flying animals that could be compared to birds of prey, capable of stalking us from above. However, the reality is that it makes little sense to develop an innate psychological mechanism of this style. First, because birds of prey neither hunt nor hunt humans (with the possible exception of the now extinct Haast Eagle). Second, because even if there were birds that posed a danger, that should be very important to compensate for always being alert in case a bird is watching us. And third, because it makes no sense to develop this fear only in the case of ducks, and not in that of other carnivorous birds.

      Another great prospect to consider when acquiring a phobia is learning and internalizing the fear of a particular stimulus. This is possible for example when experiencing or visualizing an aversive experience, especially if it occurs during childhood. In anatidesphobias this can occur that in childhood a duck would have attacked us at some point, Observing us and associating their observation with the pain or fear felt during the attack Another option can be given to people who have been humiliated or who have performed or suffered an act that makes them ashamed, in the presence of these animals. But this is unlikely to make the creation of such a diagnostic label absurd.

      What treatments are used for phobias?

      As with other phobias, the most appropriate therapies for Anatidaephobia, if any, would be systematic exposure therapy or desensitization. This therapy is based on progressive exposure to the feared stimulus through the monitoring of a hierarchy developed between the professional and the client, so that the subject gradually exposes himself to situations which generate him anxiety ( starting by generating moderate anxiety to progress slowly).

      In this case, for example, they could include things like approaching a park, going to a farm, seeing a duck from different distances and with supervision, then unattended, and then incorporating more birds. This is however an example, depending on the hierarchy in question of the stimuli provided by the patient or developed alongside the professional.

      Cognitive restructuring is also helpful to change dysfunctional beliefs about these birds or what it might mean to be observed by them. Expressive techniques can also be useful in helping those affected to break free and express their discomfort. Finally, relaxation techniques are strongly recommended to lower the level of activation, and can also in extreme cases use pharmacological treatment.

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