The word phobia in the field of psychology is used to refer to that set of intense fear reactions that are often accompanied by avoidance behaviors, having generally been induced by situations (planned or real) that do not objectively justify such response forms.
There is a wide variety of types of phobias, among which in this article we will highlight megalophobia, which is the experience by a person of an intense fear of objects of large dimensions (for example, skyscrapers, large ships , airplanes, trucks, cranes). or even smaller objects than the previous ones).
In this article we will see what megalophobia is and how it could affect this type of phobia in the daily life of those who suffer from it. We will also give some brief guidelines that can be applied for your treatment.
What is megalophobia?
Megalophobia is not a very common phobia in the general population; however, there have been instances or times where many people have experienced something quite similar.
Megalophobia is the panic or fear that some people feel for large things or objectsbeing able to experience an intense sense of anxiety in situations where a remarkably large object is present (eg, passing in front of a skyscraper).
In this case, we are not talking about objects larger than normal, but by their nature large in size, such as planes, trucks or skyscrapers. The same could happen to large animals like a giraffe, elephant, or hippopotamus.
Megalophobia is An anxiety-related disorder that can significantly interfere with the lives of people with anxietyso they generally avoid any type of situation where they are exposed to large objects, so they generally have a preference for the rural environment since there are no large buildings, they can avoid traveling in oversized transports like an airplane or even experience a scary section when you pass near an oversized truck on a highway with your car.
Therefore, in the most extreme cases where you suffer from megalophobia, it may happen that a person does not want to leave their house to avoid exposure to large objects, even missing work, school or avoiding going out with friends, among others (eg high-rise buildings); this usually occurs to a greater extent in people who live in large cities.
It should also be noted that there is no single factor that can generate megalophobia, as is the case with other phobias or even other mental disorders. These factors could include genetic inheritance from a parent who suffered from a similar phobic disorder and on the other hand may also have influenced behavior learned from the past by having experienced a negative stimulus situation in the phobic past. Therefore, megalophobia could be due to the combination of the two factors, both genetics and past experiences.
Major diagnostic manuals on mental disorders, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) ICD-11 and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) DSM-5, may classify megalophobia as phobias, which is one of the types of anxiety disorders. We will see below the main characteristics of the specific phobias in each of the manuals that we have just mentioned.
1. Specific phobia in the DSM-5
The main characteristics of megalophobia, being a specific type of phobia according to the DSM-5 would be the following:
Anxiety or intense fear when the person is in the presence of large objects.
Fear or anxiety is usually presented immediately in front of large objects.
The person tends to actively avoid any situation involving large objects.
The fear of these large objects must last at least 6 months.
The person often experiences clinically significant discomfort that interferes with their daily life.
This condition cannot be explained by another psychopathology (eg, panic disorder or similar).
You may be interested: “Fear of anxiety: why it occurs and how to deal with it”
2. Specific phobia in ICD-11
The characteristics that would allow to diagnose megalophobia, being a specific class of phobiaaccording to ICD-11 would be:
- Excessive or marked fear or anxiety that occurs when a person is exposed to large objects.
- These symptoms of fear or anxiety are disproportionate to the actual danger.
- These large objects are often avoided or overwhelmed by intense fear or anxiety.
- The symptoms of megalophobia that we have just mentioned should last several months.
- In addition, these symptoms must be severe enough to cause discomfort and/or deterioration.
Treatment of megalophobia
If a person thinks they may have megalophobia or any type of phobia (e.g. aerophobia, agoraphobia, acrophobia, etc.) that seriously impacts their quality of life, they may have avoided a wide variety of situations. your daily life, would be recommended contact a mental health professional so that you can help him to face his situation and gradually form a series of guidelines that allow him to face such situations that cause him the phobia he suffers from and thus return to his normal life.
In addition, megalophobia or any other type of mental health problem must be evaluated and diagnosed, if necessary, by a qualified professional, so that he can seek the most appropriate treatment for each particular case.
Below we will briefly explain what they consist of psychological treatments that have a wide range of ways to treat specific phobias.
1. Behavioral therapy
Among the psychological treatments for specific phobias, and more specifically for megalophobia, is behavioral therapy, which It is based on behavioral learning theories and usually begins with relaxation trainingwhich includes a combination of progressive muscle relaxation exercises, attention management exercises and also breathing exercises.
It is important to note that relaxation training is very effective for a wide variety of anxiety-related disorders used in isolation, as well as in combination with other psychological techniques and therapies.
A very effective technique for this type of phobia, like megalophobia, is exposure to the feared stimulus (in this case they would be large objects), which can be applied live, in imagination or even by means of virtual reality, being very advisable the last two when it is complicated to expose during therapy to the dreaded stimulus live, as would happen in the case of megalophobia.
It is important to note that for exposure at work, the person must first be trained to perform this technique correctly, be able to perform it gradually, and manage their thoughts and emotions in a controlled manner during the exposure. Exposure is also a good tool to reduce the cognitive distortions that can be associated with megalophobia.
2. Cognitive therapy
Another psychological treatment that can be used to treat cases of megalophobia is cognitive therapy, since it is based on the dialogue between the patient and the therapist so that the latter helps the former to identify what these automatic, distorted and negative thoughts areso that they can be analyzed and they can be replaced by other more rational thoughts and find better suited to the real situation, as in the case of megalophobia would be exposure to large objects.
Among the most used techniques in cognitive therapy is cognitive restructuring, which would aim in the case of megalophobia to help the patient identify his irrational beliefs about exposure to large objects and modify them through his rational questioning. so that they can be replaced. with another rational and more adaptive perspective.