Scriptophobia: symptoms, causes and treatment

Scriptophobia is a rare phobia; it is the irrational fear of writing in front of other people or in public situations.

While this might sound like a bit of a strange phobia, the truth is that not many people, especially college students, express it. Below, we go into it in more depth.

    What is scriptophobia?

    Scriptophobia is the extreme fear of writing in public (From Latin “scripto”, “to write” and “phobos”, “fear, fear”). It is considered to be a phobia that meets characteristics to be considered as a specific form of social anxiety as well. Like other phobias, it produces feelings of stress, anxiety, and pain in those who are in pain.

    While this may sound like a very rare specific phobia, it truly affects thousands of people around the world, even without them knowing they have a problem that is preventing them from leading normal lives. The others who they know they have a problem they recognize their phobia is irrational, but they still have serious difficulties to adaptively cope with situations in which they have to write in front of others.

    Some of the particularly problematic situations for scriptophobic people are: taking a job where you have to write in front of other people (e.g. teacher, lawyer, …), taking notes in class, giving a phone number on paper , sign a Contract …

    Graphophobia is another phobia closely related to scriptophobia, with a similar definition, although it is more specific. In this case, it would be an extreme and irrational fear to write manually.


    The symptoms of scriptophobia are very similar to those of other phobias, but they appear when a situation arises where the person has to write something in front of others. They arise automatically and get out of hand, either because you are faced with a situation in which you have to write in front of other people, or because you are thinking about possible situations of this type, without being in one of them. .

    People with this phobia they try to avoid any situation where they have to write in front of other people. In fact, in some cases, the phobia is so severe that the person dares to write only at night, without anyone at home awake or given the situation they may find themselves writing in. If you are of student age, it is likely that the person will skip lessons with the intention of avoiding everyone being seen writing.

    The most notable physiological symptoms are dry mouth, palpitations, dizziness, tingling sensation in the skin, headache and in the rest of the body, excessive sweating, nausea, shortness of breath and fatigue.

    As for the more psychological realm, we have a hard time relaxing, mood swings, fear, anxiety, stress and thinking it’s going to be ridiculous or you won’t be able to get out of it. without feeling it. himself.

      Possible causes

      Usually the fear of writing in front of others is caused by the experience of a negative event at a time in life related to it. In many cases, scriptophobes are afraid of being ridiculous when they write or that people think their words are ugly. It is common for people with this phobia to have gone through a time when they were ridiculed for their type of writing or for making spelling mistakes. It could be experienced with such intensity that it encouraged the person to have panic attacks.

      There are people who see in their way of writing an act similar to that of the undressing. In other words, that is to say some feel that writing on a piece of paper is a way of expressing their privacy, Either by doing it in the form of words explicitly related to that idea (e.g., a diary), or because their way of writing is seen as something very personal which, if another person sees, is like if she saw inside, and they don’t like it.

      This may sound like a somewhat far-fetched explanation, but the truth is that not many people would manifest this phobia because of this fact.


      As with other phobias, treatments focused on scriptophobia are primarily cognitive-behavioral in nature and typically appear in traits with other treatments in which anxiety disorders are addressed. Exposure to the phobic situation, in this case the act of writing in front of other people, is usually the main method to work on the phobia., Although gradually and always with the security that grants professional consultation.

      Cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure

      Cognitive behavioral therapies have championed the idea that many phobias, especially those such as scriptophobia and other contextual ones, are due to a style of thinking that is harmful to the person. The thought that it will be ridiculous to write prompts the person to imagine the worst-case scenario, Which causes feelings of anxiety.

      In therapy, you try to get the person to explain exactly why they think they are going to make fun of them or why they think others might laugh at them. It is about approaching the type of thinking and changing it so that the feelings of anxiety are not so high.

      It is also in this type of therapy that the person tries to get used to writing in front of other people. This would be done in front of the therapist first or, if the person feels safe with a family member or friend, have them come to therapy and participate in treatment under the guidance of the professional.


      Psychodynamic therapy takes into account the events and influences throughout the patient’s life that have contributed to his sense of scriptophobia, as well as taking into account his personality traits and seeing to what extent they have contributed to the training of this anxiety disorder.

      The main goal of psychoanalytic therapy is to help the person explore, understand and resolve the causes of their phobia.

      other options

      Although the alternatives that we will discuss are not treatments and the person would still suffer from a phobic disorder, in fact they could be considered preventive behaviors, the truth is that they would be used to start therapy or at least. to facilitate better well-being sooner. to seek professional help.

      As we have seen, some scriptophobic people are afraid to write in front of others because they think their type of writing is not pleasant or they are afraid of making spelling mistakes. These are the simplest cases, because going to classes to improve handwriting, besides being more careful when writing and avoiding making mistakes, would be behaviors that would greatly help in the process of writing. ‘writing.

      In addition, and thanks to the fact that we live in a highly computerized society, you can choose to type on your computer or any other electronic device with a keyboard. Word processors contain spell checkers that detect misspellings, and you can change the font and size.

      Obviously, scriptophobia it does not involve the simple fear of manually writing in front of other people. There are a lot of other things to keep in mind that make the person unable to do this, such as feeling watched, being afraid of being ridiculous, thinking what other people are going to think …

      That is why the alternatives presented in this section, as we have already mentioned, are not a treatment in themselves, but simple ways to improve the course of the disorder before consulting a professional, as they help the person. to take some control over your problem.

      Bibliographical references:

      • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic manual and statistics of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
      • Bados, A. (2009). Specific phobias: nature, evaluation and treatment. Electronic publication.

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