Death is part of life and therefore inevitable. While we may find it a bit difficult to cope with, eventually we will all die.
Some people have serious problems coming to terms with this fact, in addition to feeling a real panic at the thought of everything related to death and the unknown, especially where we will end up: the cemeteries.
Coimetrophobia is the phobia in these places and everything related to it. In this article, we will discuss in more detail what this specific phobia is, as well as the details of its symptoms, certain causes, interferences in the life of the affected person, and treatments.
What is coimetrophobia?
Coimetrophobia is the irrational fear of cemeteries and related aspects such as corpses, tombstones, embalming., Zombies, among others. While it may seem like this specific phobia should be common, the truth is that experiencing a high degree of fear towards cemeteries is not as common as you might expect.
Cemeteries themselves are places that generate some discomfort, and in most cultures the afterlife is disturbing. However, co-metrophobic people not only express their fear in cemeteries, but truly exhibit very exaggerated emotional and physiological responses to such sites.
This phobia can be very detrimental to the life of the patient, because the mere thought of a burial, the sight of graves or the passage near a cemetery are situations that generate a lot of anxiety. In addition, physical problems such as a sudden increase in heart rate and hyperventilation can occur, as well as panic attacks.
It is common for people with coimetrophobia to exhibit other phobias related to death and the unknown as well., Just like acluphobia (fear of the dark) and fasmophobia (fear of ghosts).
As with most phobias, the main symptom of coimetrophobia is anxiety. Depending on the degree of severity, a person suffering from this type of phobia may change their daily habits, such as going to the supermarket or going out with friends, to avoid walking past a cemetery at all costs. These examples are cases of avoidance behaviors.
Anxiety can arise at the mere thought of a cemetery or its proximity, accompanied by muscle stiffness, dizziness, tremors, tachycardia, hyperventilation, nausea, dry mouth and sweating, in addition get to the point of having a panic attack. It can also lead to the case of being mute and having disorganized language.
Assignment in daily life
Even going to the cemetery is not a daily task, nor is it the main place of recreation on most people’s agenda, the truth is that not even being able to approach it can be a very problematic thing.
Although with the expansion of cities, cemeteries have been moved to the outskirts, there are still some in the center. It is common for people who are co-metrophobic to avoid walking down the same street as a cemetery, tombstone store, or cremation site.
This can be detrimental to the well-being of the person with coimetrophobia, because, to give an example, if their environment of friends decides to stay close to the area where a cemetery is located, the person simply won’t want to stay. , which can affect their long-term sociability.
One of the situations in which this phobia can manifest itself most clearly is during a funeral.. Such events are very important from a social point of view, as they are a sign of affection and respect for the dead. Not attending such celebrations is not socially welcome, and the coimetrophobic person who has been away may feel bad for not saying goodbye to a loved one.
Possible causes of this phobia
There is no clear cause for the development of this phobia. Genetics and the environment, as in most phobias, can be factors influencing the onset of coimetrophobia.
Because in Western cultures death is treated as a taboo and negative subject, cemeteries are seen as extremely negative places, which is a major cultural cause in the development of phobia.
Fear of the unknown, myths about cemeteries, and associated urban legends can help develop coimetrophobia. This phobia also seems to be closely related to the fear of being buried alive.
Traumatic events can also be a condition for the development of the phobia. For example, having seen a horror movie as a child or having had an unpleasant experience while attending a funeral.
As this is a rare and very specific phobia, there are no specialized manuals for its treatment.However, general treatment for anxiety disorders can be used.
Exposure is one of the most common treatments for phobias. The goal of this type of therapy is to make the person desensitized to what is scary, in this case cemeteries.
A good way to work is to get the person to gradually move closer to a cemetery, to be able to watch movies where there are scenes that take place in a place like this, or to talk about death. Cognitive behavioral therapy can teach techniques and hone skills for working with anxiety in front of cemeteries.
If necessary, the most useful pharmacology to work on phobias are anxiolytics and antidepressants. These drugs help reduce a person’s anxiety and prevent panic attacks. It is also a good idea to reduce the consumption of caffeinated substances, such as coffee and tea, given their physiological activating effects.
Mindfulness, guided meditation, yoga, and exercise have been found to be helpful in eliminating phobias, as has fear in cemeteries. Mindfulness allows us to work mindfully and teach the person that indeed we will all die one day, that this is normal and that we should not be afraid of it. Meditation and yoga allow the body to relax when there is a stressful situation associated with thinking about cemeteries.
Exercise, especially that which activates the circulatory system, such as anaerobes, helps to de-stress, as well as to secrete endorphins in the brain which induce a feeling of well-being and calm.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
- LeBeau RT, Glenn D, Liao B, Wittchen HU, Beesdo-Baum K, Ollendick T, Craske MG (2010). “Specific phobia: A review of the specific phobia of DSM-IV and preliminary recommendations for DSM-V.” Reduce your anxiety.
- Rachman, SJ (1978). Fear and courage. San Francisco: WH Freeman & Co.