In most of the cases, our fears and anxieties are normal and commonplace which are present in the mental life of every healthy person. However, in some cases, certain phobias may appear, which are pathological and totally irrational fears that adversely affect our quality of life.
Sometimes these phobias are based on things that are objective and easy to recognize: for example, in the case of canine phobia, the source of terror and stress is almost always easy to identify in our surroundings. But … what happens when what produces extreme terror is something that doesn’t even exist? This is the case with spectrophobia, or the extreme fear of ghosts..
What is spectrophobia?
Spectrophobia is defined as a mental disorder that occurs when someone experiences extreme and persistent terror in ghosts and phantoms in general … or rather to what he interprets as a manifestation of a frightening entity.
Usually the fear of ghosts is so extreme that the attention of people with spectrophobia very easily shifts to any stimuli in the environment which can be interpreted as an eye opener of the presence of ghosts nearby.
This presence of delusions works like a fear feedback system: anxiety and stress lead to a state of alertness in which one is very sensitive to everything that is happening nearby, and the possibility of coming into contact with spirits is so scary that all psychological processes are geared towards avoiding this class of situations.
How are people with spectrophobia?
People with spectrophobia remain in a state of constant tension when in a space they believe frequented by supernatural entities such as ghosts. This means that they avoid being alone in places that are dark, closed or that have been associated with the supernatural. through urban legends.
The proximity of one of these places coinciding with a context in which there are no companions or are very few in number causes the spectrophobe to enter a state of extreme anxiety which leads in some cases to panic attacks or to mental blocks.
Of course, a certain fear of ghosts is still relatively common even among many adults who in principle do not believe in supernatural entities, but in the case of spectrophobia this terror it is powerful enough to affect a person’s quality of life.
Moreover, this fear will not arise only by seeing, hearing or hearing, for example, immersive works of fiction that work with the idea of spirits and ghosts; it spreads to all areas of life and its symptoms can appear at any time, and the person cannot control it.
The latter is relative, because people with spectrophobia they tend to want to be informed about issues related to parapsychology and the supernatural, And somehow they learn to read their own lives as if it were the script of a horror movie to be as prepared as possible for the possible arrival of ghosts.
The contagion of fear to the spirits
As with most phobias, suggestion also plays a very important role., And what they say and what others do can intensify this extreme fear.
This is relatively common, as the fear of the person with spectrophobia is often contagious to the rest (albeit to a lesser extent), which in turn reinforces the delusional idea that there are ghosts nearby. Moreover, while the fear experienced by people who see how the person with spectrophobia reacts is fleeting and only appears in such specific situations, the latter’s terror is persistent and does not depend on the presence of others to reveal their symptoms.
The symptoms of spectrophobia are physiological, cognitive and behavioral.
1. Physiological symptoms
The entry into the state of alert produced by this phobia is triggered by the mediation between the limbic system of the brain and the hormonal glands which are distributed throughout the body. Within seconds, the person with spectrophobia notices how his pulse and breathing rate suddenly quicken and sweating begins.
Also, at this point, the sympathetic nervous system causes the thinner and shallower blood vessels to narrow to prevent possible blood loss, causing the skin to take on a pale tone. The muscles are tense so that they can act quickly in case it is necessary to escape. Usually, all signs of anxiety appear.
2. Cognitive symptoms
In the cognitive facet, spectrophobic crises are characterized by the induction of a state in which one stops mentally wandering and attention is totally focused on the elements of the exterior, Always moving. The person goes into a high alert state to try to find out where the danger might be coming from.
3. Behavioral symptoms
The most obvious behavioral symptom of people with spectrophobia is constant avoidance of places considered dangerous by the risk associated with being a place where ghosts appear. If you are in one of these places, you will do your best to get out of it, even if it comes at a high cost to your public image or to your personal or professional medium and long term projects.