Enoclophobia (fear of crowds): symptoms, causes and treatment

One of the most common reasons people see a psychologist is because of a phobia: fear of flying (aerophobia), social phobia, or claustrophobia are some of the most common.

Enoclophobia or demophobia (i.e. phobia of crowds) also leads many people to seek psychological help., Since phobic disorders are not rational fears, but pathologies that seriously affect the life of the person who suffers from them. Phobics know that this irrational fear does not go away knowing that nothing must happen when faced with the dreaded stimulus.

In other words, the fear is so intense that it gets out of hand, and the discomfort forces the person to avoid any contact or idea that could cause the great anxiety characteristic of this disorder. Fortunately, phobias can be cured, and scientific studies have shown that the help of a psychologist is essential to overcome enoclophobia, among other irrational fears. In this article, we’ll talk about enoclophobia and look at its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is enoclophobia

Albert Einstein once said, “I hate crowds and having to give speeches to large audiences. This well-known figure was a genius. So, if you identify with his words, you can rest assured that everyone can suffer from irrational fears, and brilliant people too.

What Einstein said, in extreme cases, could represent a common phobia such as social phobia (for fear of evaluating others) or claustrophobia (fear of being inside); however, this fear (that of the example) has to do with being in front of a large crowd of people, so it would be enoclophobia.

Enoclophobia can happen to anyone, but research suggests the proportion is higher in terms of the number of females than males, and it usually develops when it begins in early adulthood. In most of the cases, the enoclofóbicos hide their feelings of fear and try to act normallyBut inside, they experience great discomfort with the feeling of fear and avoid any chance of being in this dreaded situation because when they are in a crowd, they can feel like they have a heart attack. . They get very anxious and nervous.

Causes of this phobia

Enoclophobia or demophobia, like any type of phobia, is a learned irrational fear, which usually arises as a result of a traumatic experience in the past. This learning occurs through classical conditioning, which is a type of associative learning that was first studied by Ivan Pavlov and then by behaviorist John B. Watson. The latter is at the origin of one of the most controversial studies in the history of psychology, in which he succeeds in teaching a small child, named Albert, to be afraid of a white rat that he loved it initially.

Watson believed that humans could learn strong emotions by conditioning them and then generalizing them to similar situations, and for that he used children. Little Albert was only 8 months old at the time of the study and in the first sessions he was quietly playing with the white rat, but as the sessions progressed Watson began to match the presence of l animal with the powerful sound of a metal hitting the hammer. . Within the few sessions Albert stopped playing with the rat, and each time he appeared he walked away. as a result, he associated the rat’s presence with the sound that frightened him. Not only that, but the little one was also afraid of other furry animals. According to classical conditioning theory, a phenomenon of generalization had occurred.

Today, this study could not be carried out because the ethical principles governing the research would not allow it. Below, you can watch a video explaining Watson’s study.

Classic and vicarious conditioning

Classical conditioning is not the only way to learn a fear, but vicarious conditioning, that is, learning by observing can also cause a person to be afraid of being in a crowd. .

Certain cognitive factors such as irrational beliefs cause enoclophobia, and some experts claim that biological factors are also important, as people can more easily develop fear of certain stimuli. This is so because it has been useful for our survival as a species. These fears would be developed by primitive and non-cognitive associations, so that they are not easily modifiable by logical arguments.

Symptoms and warning signs

Phobias present with cognitive, behavioral and physical symptoms. Cognitive symptoms would therefore refer to the anxiety, fear and anguish a person feels, which in turn leads to narrowing of attention, confusion, dizziness, difficulty concentrating …

These symptoms would lead to other physical and physiological symptoms such as headache, stomach pain, chest tightness., Etc. Behavioral symptoms refer to the person avoiding situations that cause them anxiety.

In summary, the symptoms of enoclophobia are:

  • Thoughts of near death
  • Extreme anxiety and fear of the presence or imagination of the phobic stimulus
  • Thinking that the person is going to run out of air
  • Lack of concentration
  • hyperventilation
  • Hyperspiration
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • tremors
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Dizziness, nausea, dizziness and headache
  • Avoidance behaviors

treatment

Like any phobia, and according to scientific data, cognitive behavioral therapy is effective in treating this disorder. To do this, certain techniques are used such as cognitive restructuring, which helps the patient to realize that his thoughts are irrational; relaxation techniques, which are helpful in reducing symptoms as the disorder manifests; and exposure techniques. Regarding the latter, the ideal treatment is achieved with the systematic desensitization technique, which gradually exposes the patient to the feared stimulus while learning effective coping strategies.

Currently, other forms of psychotherapy are also used, Such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, both of which are included in the group of contextual therapies. They are used for their good results in treating anxiety disorders, according to research conducted to verify their effectiveness.

Pharmacological treatment is recommended only in extreme cases. Always under medical or psychiatric supervision and in association with psychological therapy.

New technologies applied to phobias

The treatment of phobias has also benefited from the advance of new technologies, and some specialized centers use Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality as part of the treatment. Likewise, there are different mobile apps on the market which allow the patient to benefit from these new forms of therapy.

  • You can find out more about these applications in our article: “8 applications to treat phobias and fears of your smartphone”

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