Bibliophobia (fear of books): causes, symptoms and treatment

Phobias are a fairly common type of anxiety disorder. Humans can be afraid of many stimuli and this can be normal; however, phobic disorders are characterized because the fear they cause is irrational.

Most everyone would be afraid to be alone with a lion, but not with a clown. There are people who feel terror when they are close to these funny characters, which is called coulrophobia.

Phobias create discomfort and anxiety in the sufferer, which tends to prevent the phobic stimulus produced by this unpleasant sensation. There are different types of phobias, one is bibliophobia or fear of books and reading. In this article, we will talk about this phobia and explain its causes, symptoms and consequences.

What is bibliophobia

Bibliophobia is a phobia and therefore an irrational fear of a phobic stimulus, in this case books and reading.. It usually starts at an early age, for example at school, when children may have an unpleasant reading experience. Imagine a child who has difficulty reading and has to read a text aloud because the teacher asks him to do so.

In front of the class, the child begins to read, but he does it very slowly and the words get stuck in his nerves. The child becomes more and more nervous, and the laughter of classmates hurts him so much that this experience is not forgotten. Over the years, he continues to remember this lived situation every time he has to read a text. This unpleasant experience marks him and he feels a great discomfort when he sees a book or has to read it. In fact, he avoids having books in his hands at all costs because they cause him great anxiety.

the causes

As you can see, one of the origins of this phobia can be a traumatic experience, and like in the previous example, it usually starts at an early age. Learning this irrational fear can occur due to a type of associative learning called classical conditioning, and the reasons for these unpleasant experiences can be a lack of understanding of the text and low self-esteem, learning disabilities. different or bullying and teasing for not reading correctly. .

One of the most important characteristics of this type of learning is that it involves reflexive or automatic responses., No willful conduct. Classical conditioning is the connection between a new stimulus and an existing reflex, so it is a type of learning whereby an originally neutral stimulus, which does not elicit a response, ends up causing an associative connection of that stimulus with the stimulus. . which usually elicits this response.

Characteristics of classic packaging

One of the great theorists of classical conditioning was Ivan Pavlov, who devoted part of his life to its study, and is famous for his experiments with dogs.

Ivan Pavlov was not a psychologist but a physiologist who sought to investigate the process of salivation in dogs. His experiment consisted of measuring the saliva of dogs when he presented them with food. However, this clever character noticed that after repeatedly showing them the food, the animals would salivate even when the food was not present, simply in the presence of Pavlov, because the dogs knew that when he appeared near the door, they were going to receive the food. It was because the dogs had learned that Pavlov’s presence equaled the presence of food.

Without a doubt, Pavlov was important in providing knowledge and data on this phenomenon, but the first scientist to study conditioning with humans was John Watson. It is known for one of the most famous and controversial experiences in history, but it has been used to understand what happens to our bodies when we have a phobia. In the following video, you can find the Watson experience explained.

Other causes of fear in the books

Learning phobias through classical conditioning refers to the fact that the environment plays a determining role in a person being phobic. However, other theorists throughout history have stated that this disorder could have a genetic origin, which means that some people may be more likely to suffer from this disease through inheritance.

In addition, there is another theory called Seligman’s “Readiness Theory” which states that the fear response is the key to human survival because it activates the combat response. Therefore, biologically, we are programmed to be more easily afraid of certain stimuli. Such associations are called primitive and non-cognitive, which are not easily changed by logical arguments.

Symptoms of this phobic disorder

Although there are different types of phobias, they all share the same symptoms, the only thing that varies is the phobic stimulus that causes them. Phobias are characterized by the discomfort and anxiety they generate and the avoidance behaviors they cause.

When a person experiences an irrational fear of books or reading, tends to avoid situations where you might be in contact with this stimulus which causes an unpleasant feeling.

In summary, the symptoms of phobias are:

  • Extreme anxiety and fear of the presence or imagination of the phobic stimulus.
  • Accelerated heart rate.
  • Tremors.
  • Avoidance behaviors.
  • Thinking that the person is going to run out of air.
  • Thoughts of great discomfort.
  • Hyperventilation.
  • Dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness and headache.
  • Hyperspiration.
  • Chest pain or tightness.

Treatment and therapy

Like the vast majority of phobias, the treatment that enjoys the most scientific support is cognitive behavioral therapy., Which involves correcting and modifying the thoughts or behaviors that cause discomfort in the patient. There are several techniques used, including relaxation techniques or exposure techniques.

The latter is the treatment par excellence, and more precisely the explanatory technique of systematic desensitization, which consists in gradually exposing the patient to the phobic stimulus while learning effective adaptation tools.

However, other types of psychological therapy have also been shown to be effective in different studies, for example, mindfulness or acceptance and commitment therapy.

In severe cases, drug therapy may also work, as long as it is not the only treatment option and is combined with psychotherapy.

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