Sometimes referred to as monophobia, autophobia is a paralyzing fear of being left alone. People with this type of emotional condition are often unable to rest comfortably unless someone is relatively close, such as in another room of the home. In extreme conditions, a person suffering with this phobia must have someone in the same room during all waking hours or the individual will begin to experience extreme attacks of anxiety, regurgitation and other severe physical and emotional reactions.
A broader autophobia definition involves not on the fear of being physically alone, but also a sense of being unable to trust oneself in any setting. Within the context of this understanding of the phobia, an individual must have a caretaker nearby at all times. The second party functions as a guardian that, in the mind of the autophobic, will be able to compensate or correct any foolish or unpleasant actions that may take place. Without this guardian nearby, the autophobic feels lost and unable to function even in a public setting with many people around.
Common autophobia symptoms include a constant sense of impending danger whenever another trusted individual is not within easy reach. Often, the autophobic will also have a heightened fear of experiencing some catastrophe with no one there to save him or her from a terrible fate. This often includes a fear of naturally occurring events ranging from being struck by lightning to being buried alive in an earthquake. It is not unusual for an individual suffering from this condition to also have an extreme fear of being burglarized or experiencing a heart attack when no one is nearby to help them through the crisis.
Effective autophobia treatment often involves a combination of therapy and medication. Anti-anxiety medication can sometimes help to calm the overwhelming sense of fear an autophobic faces during an episode. Therapy can assist the sufferer to explore the underlying causes for the phobia and defuse them over time. Therapeutic techniques such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT, can also begin the process of changing behavioral responses to situations that trigger the extreme suffering and fear experienced by people suffering with autophobia.
Since this type of phobia normally is the result of some type of traumatic experience, it is important for loved ones to be supportive as the treatments begin. As with many phobias, treating autophobics involves a process that sometimes seems to move forward quickly and at other times slow to a crawl or even lose ground. Loved ones should keep in mind that successfully overcoming any phobia is different from healing a broken bone, in that the rate of progress will vary from one day to the next. Patience, reassurance of their personal worth, and encouragement to stick with the therapy can go a long way in helping the autophobic to eventually be free from the phobia.