Anatidaephobia (Fear of Being Constantly Watched by a Duck)
Anatidaephobia is the irrational fear that one is constantly being watched by a duck. They believe that somewhere in the world there is a duck that is watching them nonstop around the clock. Someone suffering from anatidaephobia may find the mere thought of a duck watching them to be immensely anxiety provoking to the point to where they may even experience full blown panic attacks.
Anatidaephobia is likely to be one of the rarer phobias, unlike arachnophobia (fear of spiders), claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces), and acrophobia (fear of heights), among others. Nevertheless, those suffering from full blown anatidaephobia will find day to day life to be quite difficult as they may become extremely paranoid that they are being watched by a duck.
Their intense fear of being watched by a duck may motivate someone with anatidaephobia to take extreme measures such as isolating themselves from the outside world by staying indoors most of the time. However, depending on the severity of their anatidaephobia, this may not be enough to help soothe their anxiety. Anatidaephobia can be a quite debilitating disorder and may make day to day life very challenging.
Their anxiety may be greatly exacerbated if they were to see a duck looking at them in real life. In such a situation, someone with anatidaephobia may immediately enter into a fight or flight state of mind which may lead them to experience a full blown panic attack. In such an event, they can expect their heart rate to rapidly increase, their rate of breathing to increase, as well as experience muscle tension and perspiration, among other symptoms.
Symptoms of Anatidaephobia
As is the case with virtually all other phobias, anxiety will be the main symptom experienced with someone suffering from anatidaephobia. As mentioned before, they may isolate themselves by staying indoors for much of the day. This would all be done in an attempt to reduce their chances of having a duck watch them. They may also be very resistant to open the blinds in their home in any given day for the same reason.
Avoidance of their fear will likely be a very common behavior that someone with anatidaephobia will exhibit. Although they will likely experience less anxiety when they do things such as staying indoors and avoiding places where ducks may be (e.g. the park, a pond, etc.), such a behavior may be very counterproductive in the long term. This is because someone with anatidaephobia may be reinforcing their irrational fear that they are constantly being watched by a duck due to them constantly trying to avoid seeing or being around ducks.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of anatidaephobia:
Anxiety when thinking of a duck watching them
Intense anxiety when seeing a duck
May avoid going outside or to certain places
Unable to cope with their anxiety
Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
May experience panic attacks
Causes of Anatidaephobia
There is no definitive cause of anatidaephobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play very significant roles in the development of it. For example, someone who has a family history of mental illness, especially of phobias, may have a higher chance of developing full blown anatidaephobia. This may be due to them also having a genetic predisposition to developing mental illness in general.
If someone were to have such a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness, then it may only require that they experience some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown anatidaephobia. Besides experiencing some sort of traumatic event that in some way had something to do with a duck, it is also plausible to conceive that someone may develop an irrational fear of being watched by a duck due to them already suffering from a different anxiety disorder beforehand.
For example, someone suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) may develop anatidaephobia more easily than someone not suffering from such anxiety disorders. This may occur do to them merely extending their irrational fear to being paranoid that a duck is constantly watching them. Though this is not always the case, it is still plausible.
Though we don’t know the exact cause of anatidaephobia, the consensus among most mental health professionals is that both genetics and one’s environment may play very significant roles in the development of any given mental disorder. So, taking a closer look at these two different parameters may shed some light as to whether or not you may be at risk for developing full blown anatidaephobia.
Although there is no form of treatment that is specifically designed to treat anatidaephobia, there are definitely a multitude of treatments that can aid in minimizing some of the symptoms that are associated with this condition. Such treatments which can be used to help treat some of the symptoms of anatidaephobia include, but are not limited to, exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and medication, among many others.
Exposure therapy for anatidaephobia
Exposure therapy is one of the most common forms of treatment for people suffering from phobias and can be quite effective at treating anatidaephobia too. This form of treatment works by having the therapist slowly expose the patient to their fear over a given period of time. Exposure therapy is not for everyone and it is crucially important that the therapist implementing it is very adept and experienced as it can be counterproductive if the patient is exposed to too much too soon.
Be that as it may, the more they become exposed to their fear during therapy, the less likely they are to have a similar reaction to it in the future. This has to do with them becoming desensitized to it over time. Though this is not always the case, it is the main philosophy of exposure therapy.
With reference to anatidaephobia, the therapist may first expose the patient to their fear of a duck watching them by having them look at a photo of a duck or watch a video of a duck. Although doing so will inevitably give them an influx of unwanted anxiety, it will also help them to become desensitized to that which they are being exposed to.
Someone with anatidaephobia engaging in exposure therapy may eventually improve their condition to the point to where they are ready to be exposed to a real duck up-close. Though this may not be a good idea for every patient, it may indeed help them to become desensitized from seeing ducks in real life. Thus, improving their anatidaephobia as a whole.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for anatidaephobia
CBT is one of the most common forms of treatment used to help those suffering from a range of different anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and even phobias (like anatidaephobia), among several other conditions.
CBT can be used to help someone with anatidaephobia to have a better understanding of their faulty thinking as it relates to their fear that a duck is constantly watching them. With help from their therapist, the patient can expect to pick apart their fears in pragmatic ways which will help them to not only broaden their perspective, but to also help them understand why it is that they believe the things they do and why they feel the way they do about their fears.
Besides becoming more aware of the faults in their thinking, they will also learn that some of the psychological problems they are experiencing is a result of destructive behaviors, which may exacerbate their symptoms of anatidaephobia. In addition to this, the patient can also expect to learn a plethora of different coping skills which can be very important for helping to reduce some of the symptoms of anatidaephobia, especially in the midst of a panic attack.
In short, the therapist will work closely with the patient to try and improve their thinking patterns, as well as their behavior patterns. For those suffering from additional mental disorders aside from anatidaephobia, such as OCD or separation anxiety disorder for example, they may benefit by engaging in CBT as opposed to exposure therapy. However, this is something that should first be discussed by you and your doctor/therapist to ensure that it is the best course of action for you to take.
Medication for anatidaephobia
Anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants may also be effective at helping to reduce some of the symptoms of anatidaephobia. In addition to this, it is not uncommon for someone suffering from one mental disorder to also suffer from an additional one. So, for example, a patient suffering from anatidaephobia and depression may get prescribed an antidepressant, which may be able to help treat the symptoms of both conditions.
However, though this may be the case it may not be very effective to merely take medication alone without any form of therapy along with it. This is so due to the fact that without therapy (i.e. exposure therapy, CBT, etc.), the patient will not have acquired the necessary skills needed to cope with the anxiety that comes with anatidaephobia. So, before you decide to take any medication, you should first discuss your options with your doctor to ensure that it is safe and effective to do so.
If you feel as though you may have anatidaephobia or if you are suffering from some of the symptoms of anatidaephobia described in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated. Upon seeing your doctor and discussing your symptoms of anatidaephobia, you may be referred to get a second opinion by going to see a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist for further treatment.
Anatidaephobia and Paranoia
Due to the paranoia associated with anatidaephobia, there may be a link with this specific phobia and schizophrenia. This is not to say that both disorders go hand in hand with one another, but rather it is merely to point out a glaring fact that both of these disorders are characterized by feelings of paranoia, though for different reasons of course.
Schizophrenia is associated with feelings of being out of touch with reality. The same can be said for people suffering from anatidaephobia who believe wholeheartedly that somewhere somehow, a duck is watching every move they make. Such irrationality is akin to psychosis.
Be that as it may, someone suffering from anatidaephobia alone will not experience disorganized speech patterns and hallucinations, both of which are very common symptoms in schizophrenics. Although, someone with anatidaephobia can be expected to experienced delusions as they will be completely convinced that a duck is watching them at all hours of the day and night.
Someone with anatidaephobia may even believe they are being followed by a particular duck. Such paranoia adds to the idea that anatidaephobia and schizophrenia are somewhat related insofar as we are looking the symptom of paranoia. This is important to note as anxiety disorders and psychotic disorders are quite different physiologically as they affect different areas of the brain.
This is especially the case with schizophrenia as they may experience auditory hallucinations where the area in their brain which would normally become activated when hearing real sounds actually becomes activated even though there are no real sounds or voices being emitted. By definition, such experiences cannot occur in someone with anatidaephobia alone.
So, if someone is experiencing full blown anatidaephobia to the point to where they are not only paranoid that they are being constantly watched by a duck, but that they are also hearing things that aren’t occuring, like a duck quacking while they are in the shower for example, then they may be experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia or psychosis.
Though we all find ourselves mishearing things from time to time, if you find yourself hearing quacks or waddles in situations where such sounds could not be practically possible, then you may want to discuss these experiences with your doctor or therapist to get their professional opinion. Doing so may help to shed some light as to why such experiences are occurring alongside your anatidaephobia.
10 Interesting Duck Facts
1.) They have superior vision
Ducks have been known to see three times farther than humans. This has to do with them having very powerful muscles in their eyes which control the curvature of their corneas and lenses. This is very advantageous for them as it aids them in hunting and makes them more adept at flying as they will have a much broader periphery. Such a reality is bad news for someone suffering from anatidaephobia as their fear is specifically contingent upon a duck’s vision.
2.) They crave meat
Ducks are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and meat. Though they are known to eat grass and aquatic plants, some of them have appetites for fish, small amphibians, and snails, among other animals. People with anatidaephobia fear that somewhere a duck is watching them. Knowing that some of these ducks crave meat insofar as it is convenient enough for them to consume it may only exacerbate someone’s symptoms of anatidaephobia. However, it’s important to remember that the animals ducks consume are much smaller than them.
3.) Their feet never get cold
Ducks have no problem with walking on ice or swimming in frigid waters as their tiny little webbed feet have what is called a counter-current heat exchange system between the arteries and veins found in their legs. As surprising as this may sound it is in fact the case. So, if you have some symptoms of anatidaephobia and thought that because you live in an icy area that you would be exempt from seeing a duck here and there, you may be unpleasantly surprised. Though ducks typically fly to warmer climates during the winter months, some ducks are quite adept at surviving in icy climates.
4.) They’re extremely vigilant
Ducks are known to be very cautious and are not easily startled. So, if you were at a park where a lot of ducks were swimming and waddling about, the odds are that they will be well aware of your presence. This is an obvious evolutionary advantage that ducks have acquired to help them survive by not only helping them to be aware of nearby predators, but also to be aware of their potential prey. Such vigilance may give those with anatidaephobia an unsettling vibe just knowing that any given duck may be aware of their presence before they’re aware of the duck.
5.) Their feathers are virtually waterproof
Duck’s feathers are very water-resistant as they contain a waxy-oil which helps to make this so. Such an ability to resist water from soaking into their feathers allows them to glide in the water with effortless fluidity. This is very beneficial for hunting and avoiding predators. Someone with anatidaephobia may be fearful of this as they may see it as just another advantage that ducks have to move quickly, especially seeing as how they can already fly very far distances. With this being the case, this may motivate people experiencing anatidaephobia symptoms to avoid going near ponds or lakes.
6.) They can change gender
This is one of the more bizarre duck facts in this list. Though this is very rare, a duck can indeed change their gender. It occurs in about 1 out of every 10,000 birds. Though this may not mean much to someone with anatidaephobia, at bottom it may at least further enhance their overall opinion of ducks as being something worthy of being feared. When a duck changes genders, it engages in behaviors that are known to be normal in the opposite gender. Such a spectacle may further frighten those suffering from anatidaephobia.
7.) They have 3 eyelids
Ducks have 3 eyelids: One at the top of the eye, one at the bottom of the eye, and one on the side of the eye. Knowing this may increase the severity of someone’s anatidaephobia and overall fear of ducks when juxtaposing the eyes of ducks with our own. A large reason as to why most people favor dogs over reptiles is due to the fact that dogs resemble humans much more than reptiles do. For example, the cold-emotionless demeanor of a snake can be seen as the antithesis of a playfully jumping, barking, and tail-wagging dog. This same logic can be used toward ducks. So, an extra eyelid may only add more fuel to someone’s anatidaephobia.
8.) They can sleep with one eye open
Some say that sleep is the cousin of death. Ducks may be aware of this apothegm as some ducks are known to sleep with one eye open. According to a study done at Indiana State University, scientists observed mallard ducks as they slept in a large group. What they found was that as they slept in a row, the ducks toward the ends of the row had one eye open (the eye looking away from the group), while the other ducks in the middle of the row had both eyes closed. This fascinating observation may be quite frightening for those with anatidaephobia as they may feel like even as a duck sleeps, it is still watching them.
9.) They can fly very high
When migrating, ducks can fly at altitudes of around 200 to 4,000 feet. However, there are many ducks that can far supercede such heights. In fact, one of the highest documented flights by a North American waterfowl was 21,000 feet as a jet plane flying over Nevada hit a mallard duck at this altitude. The fact that ducks can fly at such impressively high altitudes may only heighten one’s symptoms of anatidaephobia as this is intimation that they can fly across very far distances.
10.) They live in all climates
Though some ducks prefer some climates over others, ducks as a whole can be found in virtually any sort of climate. They can be found in freshwater and seawater, as well as in warm and cold environments. They can be found on every continent, except for Antarctica. With such a wide range of habitats with which ducks can reside in, this may evoke a great amount of fear in those with anatidaephobia as they can be found in any area where humans can be found. So, the odds that someone suffering from anatidaephobia would be able to successfully avoid seeing ducks entirely is little to none.
10 Unique Ducks to Test Your Anatidaephobia
1.) Hooded Merganser anatidaephobia
The Hooded Merganser is a very unique looking duck that can be seen as majestic or utterly creepy depending on where you are on the anatidaephobia spectrum. The Merganser’s deep yellow eyes and pencil thin pupils can be perceived to be quite unsettling and even “evil” looking.
This duck comes from the genus Lophodytes and the species L. cucullatus. The Merganser can be found waddling around in the United States where ice isn’t commonplace. This duck can also be seen in some parts of southern Canada as well, among some other areas.
The Merganser has been known to eat aquatic insects, fish, and even crustaceans such as crabs. Such a carnivorous diet, along with its frightening appearance may be enough for someone with anatidaephobia to be very weary of this duck.
The unique appearance of the Hooded Merganser may be very difficult for some people with anatidaephobia to handle. Though this is not the case for everyone, it can easily be understood as to why this reptilian looking duck can inflict unsettling fear in people experiencing symptoms of anatidaephobia.
2.) Harlequin Duck anatidaephobia
The very unique looking Harlequin Duck belongs to the genus Histrionicus and the species H. histrionicus. To some, this duck may appear to look quite stunning given its lovely color patterns. However, to those suffering from anatidaephobia, the Harlequin Duck may in fact be terrifying.
They can be found in some areas of Eastern Russia, Greenland, Iceland, and Northwestern North America, among other areas. Just as with the Hooded Merganser, this duck also eats insects and crustaceans.
Though the beautiful lines of the Harlequin Duck may leave you with feelings of admiration, the photo you see here is of the male Harlequin. The female Harlequin is much less vibrant and is nearly unrecognizable when compared to the male Harlequin.
Be that as it may, people who suffer from anatidaephobia will not be swayed by such peacocking as their fear of being watched by a duck is far deeper than superficial characteristics such as attractive color patterns.
3.) Spectacled Eider anatidaephobia
The large sea duck known as the Spectacled Eider not only has a very pretentious name, but it also has a stern look which may provoke your anatidaephobia, depending on how severe your symptoms are. Just as the case with the Harlequin Duck, the one shown in this article is a male. The female Spectacled Eider barely resembles the male as their feather colors are much different.
The Spectacled Eider comes from the genus Somateria and the species S. fischeri. This duck can be found in various locations in Alaska and Russia. So, if your anatidaephobia has slightly exacerbated due to the attached photo, then you can rest assure that you won’t come into contact with the Spectacled Eider insofar as you live anywhere else but near the coasts of Alaska or Eastern Russia.
Though the Spectacled Eider may not look as disturbing as the Hooded Merganser (#1) or the Wood Duck (#5), someone suffering with full blown anatidaephobia may still have a very difficult time looking at the picture alongside this article, let alone actually being near a Spectacled Eider in real life.
This duck in particular will typically get to around 20-22 inches in length. The paler goggles you can clearly see in the picture of the male Spectacled Eider is a key sign of what type of duck it is. The female Spectacled Eider has the same goggles, except with hers being light brown instead of white.
4.) Surf Scoter anatidaephobia
The large sea duck known as the Surf Scoter, which is native to North America has eerily disturbing eyes as they look similar to human eyes, minus the iris. Such an unsettling glare may not sit well with those suffering from full blown anatidaephobia and may exacerbate their symptoms. This seems especially true due to the fact that anatidaephobia is specifically the fear of being watched by a duck.
So, the way the duck’s eyes appear may greatly affect someone’s anatidaephobia.
Similar to the other ducks in this list, the male Surf Scoter, which is displayed in the photo looks very different than the female Surf Scoter as far as the color goes. However, their eyes look similarly reptilian-like.
The Surf Scoter can be found in Alaska and Canada, among other areas. It comes from the genus Melanitta and the species M. perspicillata. They can get up to 2.3 lbs and 19 inches in length on average.
Depending on the severity of someone’s anatidaephobia, the Surf Scoter may significantly exacerbate one’s anxiety and overall fear of ducks, if not for its uncanny eyes then for the mere fact that they may believe this duck to be in some way watching them constantly.
5.) Wood Duck anatidaephobia
The Wood Duck may be one of the most diabolical looking ducks on this list thanks to its grotesque looking red eyes. Be that as it may, when looking past its eyes, one can’t help but notice how beautiful this duck’s feathers are. Due to the Wood Duck’s eyes being the most disturbing area on its body, this can be bad news for those suffering from anatidaephobia.
What seems to be the trend here on this list and perhaps in nature as well, the female Wood Duck looks nothing like the male Wood Duck (shown in the photo). In this instance though, the female looks so different from the male Wood Duck that she doesn’t even share the same deathly red eyes.
A typical adult Wood Duck gets to around 21 inches long with a wingspan of up to around 29 inches. It comes from the genus Aix and from the species A. sponsa. It can be found in various parts of the US and in some parts of Northern Mexico during the winter months.
The red eyes found only on the male Wood Duck can understandably make some people feel uncomfortable. However, such feelings of anxiety can be expected to be greatly exacerbated with someone suffering from anatidaephobia.
6.) Muscovy Duck anatidaephobia
The Muscovy Duck, which looks like the Freddy Krueger of ducks, can be found in various parts of Mexico, the US, Australia, and South America, among other areas. It comes from the genus Cairina and the species C. moschata. These large ducks get as long as 30 inches and weigh around 15 pounds, dwarfing most of the ducks on this list. If its face didn’t make you question your anatidaephobia, then its size may.
Though its eyes don’t look anywhere as unsettling as with the Wood Duck, the Surf Scoter, or the Hooded Merganser as they aren’t nearly as “beady”, the lumpy red skin around the welcoming eyes of the Muscovy Duck will likely discourage any feelings of endearment you may have otherwise mustered up. This may be bad news for anyone with anatidaephobia.
Though the male and female Muscovy Ducks both look quite different, their faces are both quite similar. So, though their color patterns may differ slightly, the face of the Muscovy Duck is easy to identify.
People suffering from anatidaephobia may find the Muscovy Duck to be quite frightening given its grotesque face and large size. However, this will vary from person to person.
7.) Ruddy Duck anatidaephobia
The Ruddy Duck is a very unique looking specimen. In this photo, you will see a male Ruddy Duck. The male looks very different from the female as it’s easily distinguishable due to its light blue bill, which is absent on the female. Though this duck doesn’t look as disturbing as the Muscovy Duck, superficial characteristics such as facial features are often nothing more than deaf undertones for someone with anatidaephobia as their fear is often much deeper than that.
The Ruddy Duck is from the genus Oxyura and the species O. jamaicensis. They can be found in various parts of Europe, among other areas. They get to a length of about 17 inches and a weight of just over a pound. They will typically have a wingspan of around 18-19 inches.
Though as attractive as its light blue bill may appear to some, those suffering from anatidaephobia will likely not feel such endearment as the anxiety they will experience from merely being near such a duck may be enough to cause them to experience a full blown panic attack.
The point here is that the convictions that people with anatidaephobia hold are based on irrational premises which have no grounding in reality. Though it may be common to think that the more attractive an animal is, the less it will be feared, this is not necessarily the case for those suffering from anatidaephobia.
8.) King Eider anatidaephobia
The pompously named King Eider is from the genus Somateria and the species S. spectabilis. It can be found near the Arctic coasts of the Northern Hemisphere. So, unless you live near the Arctic tundra, you will likely not come into contact with the King Eider on many occasions.
Though its beautiful colors are pleasing to the eye, its lumpy head, which appears whale-like may make you question whether or not you find this duck to be attractive. However, such superficial opinions will likely fall on deaf ears with those suffering from anatidaephobia as they will likely fear all ducks.
This large sea duck can get as long as 28 inches with a wingspan of around 40 inches. They can also get to a weight of just under 5 lbs. The females, which are often called the Queen Eider look very different from the male Eider as their feathers are mainly comprised of different shades of brown.
Those suffering with anatidaephobia may find the King Eider to be very frightening as they may believe that it is somehow watching them at all times. However, unless you live near the Northern Hemisphere, you will likely not come across this duck very often.
9.) Mandarin Duck anatidaephobia
The very unique looking Mandarin Duck is a perching duck found in East Asia. It is from the genus Aix and the species A. galericulata. It looks spectacularly interesting at first glance as its different feather colors and patterns make it a truly unique duck.
It can get as long as 19 inches with a wingspan of up to 30 inches. The female Mandarin Duck looks much different than the male and is just as interesting looking with different color patterns of grey and brown. The photo here is of a male Mandarin Duck and is almost unrecognizable to that of the female Mandarin Duck.
They mainly eat plants and seeds, and even snails and fish. This omnivorous diet may make someone suffering with anatidaephobia to feel somewhat unsettled.
Asians suffering from full blown anatidaephobia will feel deeply anxious as they will believe that in some way somehow, the Mandarin Duck is watching them at all times of the day and night to the point of having no privacy whatsoever.
10.) Pink-eared Duck anatidaephobia
The Pink-eared Duck comes from the genus Malacorhynchus and the species M. membranaceus. This duck can be found in numerous areas of Australia. It is a fairly small duck that is easily recognizable due to its “pink ears” which is merely a pink coloration where the ears would be expected to be located.
They eat plankton, crustaceans, and various insects. Unlike virtually every other duck in this list, the female Pink-eared Duck looks very similar to the male.
The Pink-eared Duck is not only known for its “pink ears”, but also for its very long bill, which is about twice the length of its head. Such a feature may evoke unwanted anxiety in those with anatidaephobia.
Anxious Australians suffering from full blown anatidaephobia may find the Pink-eared duck to be absolutely terrifying insofar as they believe it to be watching them at all times without rest.