Electrophobia (fear of electricity): symptoms, causes and treatment

Fear is one of the oldest feelings and emotions in the animal kingdom, and one of the most useful for survival, albeit unpleasant. Thanks to it, we can prepare ourselves to fight or flee to avoid dangerous stimuli.

However, sometimes there may be an irrational or disproportionate fear of stimuli that are not dangerous or that, although they may pose a danger, the risk of facing them is not as high as is feared. One of these is the panic that appears in electrophobia, Which we will discuss below.

    Electrophobia: basic definition

    It is called electrophobia to a specific type of phobia, in which it appears extreme fear or fear of electricity.

    As a specific phobia which is the existence of an irrational and / or disproportionate fear of a given stimulus or type of stimulation, in this case the aforementioned electricity. Exposure to the stimulus or the mere idea of ​​coming into contact with it generates great anxiety in the person, to the point of generating physiological symptoms such as hyperventilation, tachycardia, dizziness, nausea and vomiting and may experience seizures. anxiety.

    The fear of electrophobic people is generally towards electricity or electrocution, although it generally extends by association with most plugged-in electrical devices. Sometimes it is also possible for fear or phobia to appear during lightning storms, as a closely related phobia.

    symptoms

    The great fear and anxiety generated by the stimulus causes active avoidance or escape from it and whatever may be related to it is generated. In the particular case of electrophobia, the subject tended to avoid approaching or using most electrical devices, approaching high voltage towers or lightning rods, or handling cables or installation. home electrical (eg thermal). You will also tend to avoid traffic jams.

    This avoidance will have an important impact on the subject, given the high prevalence of the use of electricity in our daily life. Many jobs or recreation systems can be very anxious for these people, In addition to causing difficulty in using or repairing, if necessary, tools, instruments or apparatus. In some cases, the idea of ​​using electrical items necessary for the health of the subject can even cause anxiety, such as devices that use electrodes, respirators, or certain implants.

      Causes of this phobia

      Electrophobia is a highly disabling specific phobia in a society like that of today. Its causes are not entirely clear, although there are different hypotheses in this regard.

      The truth is that unlike other phobias, this fear makes some sense because it really poses a danger: you can really be electrocuted if you handle electrical devices. However, this does not mean that the fear and avoidance of electronic instruments is not disproportionate to the real risk of electrocution.

      The emergence of this phobia may be due to the experience of aversive experiences related to electricity: many of us have sometimes received a spark handling electrical equipment, and in some people may appear fear of what would have. could be a higher electric current.

      too much it is possible that electricity is associated with the experience of traumatic events: Having seen someone die of electrocution (by accident or suicide), having lost a loved one for this reason, having had an accident which gave rise to feelings of helplessness or which led the subject himself or acquaintances to hospital or even all of them to have been tortured. In these cases, pain and helplessness may be associated with electricity, and fear and anxiety may appear in the presence of electricity.

      treatment

      Electrophobia can have serious repercussions on the daily life of the patient, so it is necessary to find an effective treatment to solve it.

      One of the most effective therapies in treating this phobia and others is Exposure therapy. To do this, we must prioritize the exposures, that is to say, draw up an ordered list of situations generating anxiety. It is important to keep in mind that the goal is not to feel anxiety but to acquire the ability to manage it (which in the long run will probably lead to the disappearance of fear and anxiety. anxiety).

      In this case, of course, we will not electrocute the patient, but we can develop a hierarchy that now incorporates observation and be at different distances from a socket or electrical cables, connect or disconnect devices, or use a device you need electricity.

      It could also lead to the use of mild electrical stimulation in the form of mild, controlled shocks that cannot cause damage in a controlled environment. It should be noted that some elements that the patient may imagine should be avoided as they can be dangerous, and in this case should be reconsidered.

      Once the hierarchy is established, an exhibition will be done gradually, By starting with elements that generate an intensity which does not generate excessive fear but which is stimulating. Exposure to a specific element will be carried out until the level of anxiety regarding exposure is significantly reduced and is perhaps imperceptible in two consecutive trials.

      Along with the above therapy, cognitive restructuring is generally helpful, in order to work on the patient’s beliefs. It is first of all a matter of observing the patient’s beliefs with regard to electricity and the risk it presents, and of working to find a less threatening and more realistic interpretation of situations of anxiety with regard to of the possible risk.

      In any case, it will always be necessary to assess what their fear means to the patient, when it appeared and what is considered to have caused it. Also its consequences both negative and positive. All of this will allow you to work with both the above techniques and other alternatives.

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