Everyone knows the expression “for tastes, colors”, which can be extrapolated to a world as complex and, in turn, as limiting as phobias.
There are many phobias, but the surprising thing is that there are even specific groups of phobias like phobias in animals, phobias in environmental phenomena, phobias related to the body …
A rather unknown group of phobias is that which concerns spatial phenomena, being cometophobia, fear of the stars, The specific phobia that we will talk about here. Let’s look at this rare and, in turn, curious phobic disorder.
What is cometophobia?
Cometophobia (from the Latin “star”, in turn from the Greek “kometes”, “hair, tailed star” and from the Greek “phobos” “fear”) is the fear of comets. This is a specific phobia that shares a category with other phobias related to astronomical phenomena or objects, Such as heliophobia (fear of the sun), cosmicophobia (fear of cosmic phenomena), meteorophobia (fear of meteorites), siderophobia (fear of the stars) or spatiophobia (fear of space).
Those who suffer from this phobia experience an irrational fear of the stars or phenomena related to them, and their appearance is usually related to superstitions or misconceptions about outer space. Although, objectively, comets are just a mixture of rocks, ice and stellar dust, some still believe they are messages from the Hereafter or signs that the end is near. There are also those who believe that these are interplanetary ships sent by aliens to invade Earth.
Whatever the cause of this phobia, the truth is that cometophobes have serious difficulty witnessing the passage of a comet, talking about the last time one of them happened, or looking at them in places. science fiction films and space documentaries.
Possible causes of this psychological disorder
As with other phobias, it is believed that the factors responsible for cometophobia are a combination of external events, such as having experienced a traumatic event, and internal predispositions to the individual, Such as their genetics and personality.
In the past, this fear was quite common, as there were no scientific explanations or objective methods to study stars, what they were made of, and when their frequency occurred. For this reason, at times like the Medieval Age, it was believed that the passing of a comet was a sign that the Day of Final Judgment was approaching, or that the destruction of humanity was imminent. Such beliefs were closely associated with religion and related superstitions.
However, today there are still people who are afraid of comets. One of the reasons is that, either for seeing stars in science fiction series or for documenting their destructive potential, comets they are seen as something that could mean the end of humanity, if impacted against Earth. Another belief shared by cometophobes is that the stars could be interplanetary spaceships of very advanced extraterrestrial civilizations that are planning to invade our planet.
As with other phobias and, in turn, other anxiety disorders, cometophobia involves high levels of stress for those who suffer from it. Symptoms may vary depending on the level of fear of the phobic stimulus and the degree of frequency with which you come in contact. Symptoms, and in particular anxiety, appear when the person looks at pictures of stars, although the phobic response can also be given to the simple act of speaking or thinking about these cosmic phenomena..
Phobias are disorders that need to be treated very seriously, since among the symptoms that can occur are panic attacks. When the person, whether cometophobic or suffering from another phobia, exhibits one of these seizures, they may experience physical problems such as palpitations and rapid heartbeat.
Other physical symptoms that may appear in patients with cometophobia, in addition to panic attacks, excessive sweating, tremors, chills, irregular breathing, feeling of suffocation, Tachycardia, chest pain, butterfly stomach, nausea, headache, dizziness, fainting, numbness, tingling sensation in the skin, dry mouth, tinnitus, disorientation, increased blood pressure, confusion and hyperventilation.
When it comes to psychological symptoms, we are afraid of losing control, fear of fainting, fear of dying, fear of having an illness, guilt, shame, isolation from others, depression, hopelessness, difficulty concentrating, feeling disconnected, anger, irritability, mood swings, anxiety and generalized fear.
Cometophobia is a very rare phobia, and since its phobic stimulus consists of comets, which is rare in itself, those who suffer from this phobia rarely decide to undergo therapy. Really, unless they’re working on something star-related like astronomy, cometophobes don’t see the need for treatment because they already have a subjective feeling of being in control of their disorder. They think that as long as they don’t see a star, they can live a normal life.
Thereby it is striking compared to other more common phobic disorders, associated with more daily stimuli, Such as blatophobia (fear of cockroaches), acrophobia (fear of heights) or aerophobia (fear of flying). All of these phobias are often seen in consultation as those who suffer from them suffer from many limitations to avoid cockroaches, heights and planes, respectively. On the other hand, since comets are rare, there is no high degree of interference in cometophobia.
However, asking for help is never too much. Comets are something unusual and, therefore, they are very beautiful natural phenomena which, when they do occur, their observation is considered a real fun activity and a unique experience. The cometophobic individual is at risk not only of missing a historical event, but also of depriving himself of having a good time with his friends and family, who may have decided to spend the night watching the passing of the star.
As part of psychotherapy, the patient is encouraged to recognize patterns of behavior and thought that got him to where he is, what are his beliefs about what a comet is, and if he really thinks they’re as dangerous as he thinks they are. Strategies for dealing with the anxiety associated with their specific form can be taught during the consultation.
Pharmacologically, the most prescribed psychotropic drugs for phobias are antidepressants, anxiolytics and beta blockers. These drugs do not cure phobias, but they reduce their symptoms and provide the patient with greater well-being. However, to ensure that the person manages not to have an irrational fear of the stars or to be able to acquire effective strategies to cope with it, psychotherapy will be the best option to achieve this goal.
Apart from conventional psychopharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatments, there are other less empirically proven options that could have good results on the cometophobic person, such as neurolinguistic programming or hypnotherapy, although, to date, there is little evidence. research that found this type of alternative. effective treatments to treat anxiety disorders.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
- Bados, A. (2009). Specific phobias: nature, evaluation and treatment. Electronic publication.