Catagelophobia is the irrational fear of being ridiculed. Someone suffering from this condition may find the mere thought of being mocked or made fun of to be extremely painful and anxiety provoking. They themselves may already be very self-critical, so when someone else ridicules them or when they perceive that they are being ridiculed by someone else, this may only confirm what they already believe about themselves.
It may not be uncommon for someone suffering from full blown catagelophobia to also experience symptoms of glossophobia (fear of public speaking) or agoraphobia (fear of crowded places) as these two phobias lend themselves to being vulnerable to being ridiculed by others as well. Catagelophobia can also be thought to be the fear of being judged as well due to the fact that being ridiculed, mocked, or teased are all unwanted judgments made at the other persons expense.
Someone experiencing the symptoms associated with catagelophobia may find themselves avoiding people who have ridiculed them in the past for they may fear it could happen again. They may also avoid certain places or situations which they may deem to be potentially pernicious. For example, they may avoid being put in a vulnerable situation where all eyes would be on them or where they would have to speak in front of a crowd, thus risking their chances of being ridiculed.
If someone with catagelophobia happens to be ridiculed to the point to where they deem it to be absolutely unbearable, then their anxiety may be so intrusive and extreme that they may even experience a full blown panic attack. Though this may not be very common, it is still very plausible for it to occur insofar as their catagelophobia is severe enough.
Symptoms of Catagelophobia
People suffering from catagelophobia will experience high amounts of unwanted anxiety when being ridiculed or when perceiving to being ridiculed. Their intense anxiety may entice them to avoid certain places, situations, or to simply avoid other people altogether in an attempt to “protect” themselves from being ridiculed or judged. Though this may give them some relief from their fears, doing so will only confirm their own biases. Thus, worsening their condition in the long run.
As previously mentioned, they may also experience full blown panic attacks as a result of their irrational fear of being ridiculed. Though this may not be very common, it can still occur. Someone with catagelophobia may make conscious efforts in their day to day life to actively avoid certain places, people, or opportunities all in an attempt to help themselves cope with their fear of what may happen. Such a behavior can quickly become toxic if they were to avoid going to job meetings or job interviews, for example.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of catagelophobia:
Intense anxiety when being ridiculed
Intense anxiety when thinking of being ridiculed
Unable to cope with their anxiety
Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
May experience panic attacks
Causes of Catagelophobia
There is no definitive cause of catagelophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may both play very significant roles. For instance, someone who has a family history of mental illness, especially of phobias, may have a higher chance of developing this disorder. This may be due to them also having a higher chance of being genetically predisposed to developing mental illness in general.
If this were to be the case, then it may only require some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown catagelophobia. For example, they may have been humiliated in front of a large crowd once before, causing them to develop this condition. Essentially, any event that was traumatizing enough, which included being ridiculed in some capacity is enough for someone to develop full blown catagelophobia insofar as they have the proper genetic makeup.
Though we do not know the exact causes of all mental illnesses, there is a consensus among most mental health professionals that both genetics and one’s environment play very pertinent roles in the development of any given mental disorder. So, taking a closer look at these different parameters may shed some light as to whether or not you may be at risk for developing full blown catagelophobia.
Catagelophobia Treatments (abridged)
As is the case with virtually all other phobias, exposure therapy may be very beneficial for someone suffering from catagelophobia. Exposure therapy works by having the patient be exposed to their fear over a given amount of time. Though doing so will inevitably give the patient an influx of unwanted anxiety, the goal would be for them to gradually become desensitized to their fear over time.
So, with regards to treating catagelophobia, the therapist may “expose” the patient to their fear of being ridiculed by having them watch a video of someone else getting ridiculed or they may consent to have the therapist ridicule the patient insofar as it would only be effective at helping them to become desensitized to it over time. Though exposure therapy is frequently used for people who suffer from anxiety disorders and phobias alike, it may be limited with regards to how it can help to improve catagelophobia.
Besides exposure therapy, someone suffering with catagelophobia may benefit from engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of therapy works by having the patient learn new and effective ways to cope with their irrational fear of being ridiculed. This can be vitally important when they find themselves at the onset of a panic attack. Besides this, they can also expect to learn how to improve the way they think about the idea of being ridiculed as well. Doing so may greatly help to relieve some of the symptoms associated with catagelophobia.
If you think you may have catagelophobia 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 psychologist or a psychiatrist for further treatment.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Catagelophobia
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 catagelophobia 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 catagelophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with catagelophobia 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 catagelophobia 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 Catagelophobia
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 catagelophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with catagelophobia 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 catagelophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Catagelophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from catagelophobia. 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 catagelophobia 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 catagelophobia 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 catagelophobia, 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 catagelophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Catagelophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as catagelophobia. 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 catagelophobia 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 catagelophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their catagelophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with catagelophobia 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 Catagelophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including catagelophobia. 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 catagelophobia 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 catagelophobia, 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 catagelophobia over time.
Yoga for Catagelophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from catagelophobia. 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 catagelophobia 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 catagelophobia 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 catagelophobia.
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 catagelophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Reducing Caffeine for Catagelophobia
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 catagelophobia 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 catagelophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Catagelophobia
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 catagelophobia 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 catagelophobia 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 catagelophobia 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 catagelophobia. 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 catagelophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Psychiatric Medications for Catagelophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe catagelophobia 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 catagelophobia 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.
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 catagelophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of catagelophobia.
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 catagelophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.