Bibliophobia (Fear of Books)
Bibliophobia is the irrational fear of books. Someone suffering from this condition will find the mere thought of books to be extremely anxiety provoking. In fact, in some extreme cases of bibliophobia, they may even experience full blown panic attacks as a result of their intense fear of books. In fact, such panic attacks may result in them needing to be hospitalized. However, such experiences will vary from person to person and will be heavily dependant on the severity of the individual’s bibliophobia, among other things.
Someone suffering from this condition will have a very difficult time even being near a book, let alone actually holding or reading one. Although they may realize that their intense fear of books is not based in reality, when they are in the midst of a book or several books, they will likely not be so pragmatic as the can expect to then experience several symptoms associated with their bibliophobia, such as intense anxiety.
It is important to note that someone with bibliophobia does not have epistemophobia by default, which is the fear of knowledge. Although one can make a reasonable connection between these two phobias seeing as how books contain knowledge, the person suffering from bibliophobia does not fear knowledge itself, but rather the books that such knowledge is encapsulated in.
However, it is still possible for someone with bibliophobia to also suffer from additional phobias as well. So, such a case will likely be contingent on their specific genetic makeup, as well as the way in which they were raised and in what environment.
Symptoms of Bibliophobia
Just as the case is with virtually every other phobia that exists, anxiety will be one of the most profound symptoms that someone with this phobia can expect to experience. Depending on the severity of their condition, they may refuse to have any books in their homes, as well as refusing to go to any place of business where books may be sold. Books are sold in a plethora of different places, so it may be quite challenging for someone with bibliophobia to successfully avoid seeing them altogether.
Although avoiding books may seem like a good idea for someone with bibliophobia as they will almost certainly experience less acute anxiety as a result of such avoidance, they may also be worsening their condition in the long run due to the fact that by actively avoiding books they are also reinforcing their fear of books at the same time. Such constant reassurance may actually fuel their phobia.
Although not as pertinent nowadays as it would have been before the 90’s, it may still be somewhat challenging for someone with this condition to obtain certain types of knowledge, especially about esoteric topics. However, given how easy it is to access information on the internet, this will likely not be much of an issue for someone with bibliophobia.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of bibliophobia:
Anxiety when thinking of books
Intense anxiety when near/holding a book
Unable to cope with their fear of books
Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
May experience panic attacks
Causes of Bibliophobia
There are no known causes of bibliophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may both play very significant roles. For instance, someone who has a family history of mental illness may also have an increased risk for developing this phobia. This may be due to them then having a genetic predisposition to developing mental illness in general. In such a situation, it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown bibliophobia.
Such traumatic events don’t necessarily have to have anything to do with books per se, but as long as they were involved in their traumatic experience in some capacity, then they may develop bibliophobia as a consequence of that experience. For example, a young adult may develop bibliophobia if they were once beaten with books as a child. There are many different ways that someone can develop this condition and what will cause one person to develop bibliophobia will have little to no effect on the next person. It is also important to take the individual’s genetics into consideration as well.
Although we do not know the exact causes of bibliophobia, the consensus among most mental health professionals is that both genetics and one’s environment play very significant roles in the development of virtually any 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 bibliophobia.
Bibliophobia Treatments (abridged)
There are no treatments that are specifically designed to treat this phobia. However, there are still many different treatments which can be very beneficial for someone suffering with bibliophobia as they can significantly help to reduce the various symptoms associated with this condition. For example, exposure therapy is one of the most common forms of treatment for people suffering from anxiety disorders and may also be useful for treating the symptoms of bibliophobia as well.
With regards to bibliophobia, exposure therapy would entail the therapist gradually exposing the patient to books for a given amount of time. For example, depending on the severity of their fear of books, the therapist may first show the patient pictures of books. Although this does not sound like much exposure, for someone suffering from an intense fear of books it may be extremely anxiety provoking. Eventually, the therapist may expose the patient to a real book insofar as they are ready to be exposed to it. This will likely include the patient observing it and even holding it.
If you think you may have bibliophobia or if you are suffering from some of the symptoms 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, you may then be referred to see a specialist such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist for further treatment. However, this will likely depend on the severity of your symptoms, among other factors.
Reducing Caffeine for Bibliophobia
It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with bibliophobia to experience panic attacks.
So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.
Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with bibliophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Bibliophobia
DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like bibliophobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.
One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with bibliophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.
Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with bibliophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.
Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with bibliophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your bibliophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Meditation for Bibliophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from bibliophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimeous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.
Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from bibliophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.
For someone with bibliophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.
To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of bibliophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.
Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with bibliophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Bibliophobia
CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with bibliophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.
CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with bibliophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with bibliophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.
Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with bibliophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Bibliophobia
MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from bibliophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with bibliophobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.
Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of bibliophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Exposure Therapy for Bibliophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as bibliophobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with bibliophobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.
The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with bibliophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their bibliophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with bibliophobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.
Exercise for Bibliophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including bibliophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.
According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of bibliophobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.
There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of bibliophobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with bibliophobia over time.
Medication Therapy for Bibliophobia
These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as bibliophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of bibliophobia.
These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of bibliophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe bibliophobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.
These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their bibliophobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.
Yoga for Bibliophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from bibliophobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with bibliophobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.
There are many different types of yoga that someone with bibliophobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with bibliophobia.
If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of bibliophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.