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What Is Agliophobia?

Deanna Baranyi
By
Updated Feb 29, 2024
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Agliophobia is a psychological disorder that can be described as the fear of experiencing pain. In most cases, the person fears an event that may potentially cause pain. The fear may be worse than any pain that could actually occur, making the fear illogical. A person suffering from agliophobia may stay away from a particular situation if she believes that pain may occur. She may also have problems watching a situation, such as a television show, wherein the signs of pain are mimicked, even if they are for theatrical purposes.

In most cases, agliophobia is caused by a traumatic event. When the event occurred, the person suffered a great deal of pain. As a result, her brain remembers the pain associated with that event and does not want to experience such pain again. The thing that makes an agliophobic condition different from a regular fear of pain is that the person suffering from the condition carries her fear of pain into other events where the chance of suffering pain may be unlikely.

A simplistic example may be that an agliophobic person may never walk to her mailbox for fear of stubbing her toe. The chance that a person will stub her toe each time she walks to the mailbox is low. In addition, although stubbing one’s toe may hurt, it certainly should not hurt so badly as to prohibit a person from walking down her sidewalk to a mailbox. So, a person with agliophobia is so afraid of pain that she is willing to cease walking to her mailbox, even though the chances of extreme pain are unlikely.

People who suffer from agliophobia exhibit a wide range of symptoms. For example, she may experience shortness of breath, dizziness, or rapid breathing. Some people have an abnormal heart rate, nausea, and perspiration as well. In the most severe cases, a person with this condition may have an irrational fear of death or a sense of detachment. She may also suffer from frequent panic or anxiety attacks.

Typically, a person with agliophobia will need to consult a psychologist. The psychologist may specialize in energy psychology or in phobias. As a result, over a period of time the therapist may determine the severity of the disorder and suggest treatments. These treatments may include prescription drugs or hypnosis. Both are geared to relax the person and help her realize that her fears are unwarranted.

Many agliophobics suffer from drug abuse. They feel that the drugs help them escape the daily fears they face. They are able to escape reality and enter into a surreal world that is free from pain. As a result, many people with agliophobia need to be treated for drug addiction as well as their phobia.

What Is the Treatment for Agliophobia?

Etymologically, the word "agliophobia" comes from the Greek "álgos," which means "pain" and "phóbos," meaning "fear." Most people don't enjoy pain, and for good reason; pain is the body's way of signaling that something is wrong. However, someone with agliophobia suffers from an irrational fear of getting into a situation in which they're likely to experience pain. This phobia is considered by some psychologists to be a behavior that is learned. When the behavior is learned, it can become persistent and strong enough to cause major disruption in one's daily life. However, what has been learned can be unlearned and extinguished.

If people with agliophobia hope to live a normal life, they should want the condition to be treated. Otherwise, they are likely to avoid many situations that are routine to most people. If you notice the symptoms of agliophobia significantly impacting your life, it is time to seek the advice of a professional.

As with other phobias, there is no standard treatment that works for everyone. One treatment may eradicate the phobia for one person while making no difference for another. Sometimes a combination of two or more treatments works best. The most effective treatment depends on several factors, such as the severity of the individual's phobia, its triggers, and the initial cause.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the connection between your anxiety and your behavior. When undergoing CBT, you and the therapist work together to determine if your feelings are reasonable. Most likely, if your fear of pain is impacting your life so much you feel the need for counseling, the feelings are irrational. In this case, the counselor works with you to overcome this way of thinking so you can partake in a normal, healthy, happy life.

One approach CBT takes is exposing the person with agliophobia to the feared stimuli in small doses, at first. As the triggers are gradually increased, you learn that they are not necessarily connected to bad outcomes. Eventually, you may realize you can feel very little to no anxiety when in the presence of the once-overwhelming stimulus.

Virtual reality technology has taken this therapy a step further by making triggers much more accessible, especially in situations that may be uncommon or difficult to recreate in real life. The subject can interact with the stimulus in the virtual world while in the safety of the counselor's office. Studies have shown that CBT using VR technology is often the most effective in overcoming various phobias. Additionally, people can use VR for practicing relaxation techniques like meditation.

Medication

Medications such as antidepressants, beta-blockers and tranquilizers are used to treat all types of anxiety, so it makes sense that they would work extremely well for someone with a phobia. Still, not everyone benefits from medication when it comes to treating a phobia, and it may take trial and error to determine which, if any, will be effective.

Counseling

A therapist can help you recognize unhealthy patterns in your life and work with you to change your unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Sometimes simply speaking with a trained professional about your fear and associated behaviors is what you need. There may be complex feelings that you have to resolve before getting over your fear. A counselor is an unbiased person who won't judge you, so you can feel comfortable being open about your thoughts and feelings.

Self-Care

Caring for your overall health can significantly aid you in overcoming your agliophobia. All of your bodily systems are interconnected, which means that your mental health can affect your physical health and vice versa. Make sure you eat a healthy diet, get plenty of quality sleep, and take time to participate in regular physical activity like a daily walk. All of these things can make a big difference in your mental health and even reduce pain.

What Are the Causes of Agliophobia?

Symptoms of agliophobia tend to develop over time but could be due to different factors for different people. As scientists continue to study this phobia disorder, it becomes more evident that classical conditioning typically plays one of the most significant roles. Living through traumatic experiences like being physically abused or any abnormal negative associations related to pain can trigger symptoms and the development of agliophobia.

Phobias can also be caused by genetic factors, as is true for some people with depression, anxiety and other mental conditions. Agliophobia may be due to you undermining your own ability to deal with pain. In some cases you could have an exaggerated perception of the amount of harm that exposure to a stimulus could bring.

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Deanna Baranyi
By Deanna Baranyi
Deanna Baranyi, a freelance writer and editor with a passion for the written word, brings a diverse skill set to her work. With degrees in relevant fields and a keen ability to understand and connect with target audiences, she crafts compelling copy, articles, and content that inform and engage readers.

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Deanna Baranyi
Deanna Baranyi
Deanna Baranyi, a freelance writer and editor with a passion for the written word, brings a diverse skill set to her...
Learn more
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