Scriptophobia (Fear of Writing in Public)
Scriptophobia is the irrational fear of writing in public. Someone suffering with this phobia will find it extremely difficult to write in public or even think about writing in public. Doing so will likely give them intense amounts of anxiety. In some cases, their anxiety will be so extreme that they may even experience full blown panic attacks because of it. Though this is not likely to be common, it is definitely plausible to occur nonetheless.
Scriptophobia is one of the rarer phobias and will be much less common than coulrophobia (fear of clowns), triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13), and cynophobia (fear of dogs), among several others. Be that as it may, scriptophobia is still a very debilitating disorder that can make day to day life very difficult for someone suffering from it.
Depending on what they do for a living, someone with scriptophobia may have a very difficult time in their work life. Such an intense fear of writing in public may force them to take on careers that require little to no writing in public.
This may limit them to jobs that they would otherwise not want to do. It is major life decisions such as this which may only worsen their condition in the long run due to them reassuring to themselves that writing in public is something that is worthy of being feared and avoided.
Symptoms of Scriptophobia
Anxiety will be the number one symptom of scriptophobia. In fact, someone experiencing this condition may diligently try to avoid writing in public so they will not exacerbate their anxiety. This may be very difficult if their job includes writing or typing in a public space such as an open office for example. In such a situation, they may be forced to quit their job and find something that doesn’t involve writing in public.
Besides this, they may also experience a full blown panic attack insofar as their anxiety is unbearable enough. If this were to occur, then they can expect to experience an increased heart rate, an increased rate of breathing, muscle tension, perspiration, and sharper senses, among other things. Essentially, their physiology will prepare them for a fight or flight response due to them perceiving that they are in danger. However, they are not really in danger.
Someone suffering with scriptophobia will likely isolate themselves from other people when writing. Though this may give them some immediate relief from their anxiety it will likely only worsen their fear of writing in public in the long run. Besides this, isolating themselves may also open the door for them to develop additional mental disorders, such as social anxiety disorder or depression, among others.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of scriptophobia:
Intense anxiety when writing in public
Anxiety when thinking of writing in public
Anxiety when around people who are writing in public
Unable to cope with their fear
Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
May experience panic attacks
Causes of Scriptophobia
Genetics and environmental factors are likely to be the main causes of scriptophobia. This is also the case with virtually any given mental illness. So, if you have a family history of mental illness, especially of anxiety disorders, then you may be at risk for developing scriptophobia. This would likely be due to you having a higher risk of being genetically predisposed to developing mental illness.
If you were to have such a genetic predisposition, then it may only require that you experience some sort of traumatic event for you to develop full blown scriptophobia. Such an event may be that you were somehow publicly embarrassed while writing in the presence of others. Nevertheless, regardless of what occurred in the event, a traumatic experience may be enough for someone to develop this condition insofar as they have the genetic makeup to do so.
Though we do not definitively know what causes someone to develop scriptophobia, the consensus among most mental health professionals is that both genetics and one’s environment 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 this condition.
Scriptophobia Treatments (abridged)
Exposure therapy may be advantageous for treating someone with scriptophobia. Exposure therapy is one of the most common and effective forms of treatment for people suffering from virtually any phobia. It works by having the therapist slowly expose the patient to their fear over a given period of time.
Though doing so will inevitably give the patient an influx of unwanted anxiety, it will also help them to become desensitized from their fear in the long run. Theoretically, the more someone is exposed to that which they fear, the less it will bother them over time. This is essentially the goal of exposure therapy.
So, with regards to scriptophobia, the therapist may expose the patient to their fear of writing in public by having them write something in front of the therapist. Depending on the way in which the patient improves, the therapist may ask the patient to try writing in public by going to a park or a coffee shop during it’s non-busy hours to write in public. This may be a very big step in getting them to become desensitized to their irrational fear.
Anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication may also help someone suffering from scriptophobia. However, you should first talk to your doctor before doing so. This is important due to the fact that merely taking medication alone without any form of therapy may not be very effective for long term improvement as the patient would not have learned the necessary coping skills and behavior changes.
If you think you may have scriptophobia 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 be referred to see a specialist such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist for further treatment.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Scriptophobia
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 scriptophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with scriptophobia 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 scriptophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Scriptophobia
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 scriptophobia 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 scriptophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with scriptophobia 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 scriptophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
Psychiatric Medications for Scriptophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe scriptophobia 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 scriptophobia 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 scriptophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of scriptophobia.
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 scriptophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Meditation Techniques for Scriptophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from scriptophobia. 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 scriptophobia 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 scriptophobia 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 scriptophobia, 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 scriptophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Consuming Less Caffeine for Scriptophobia
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 scriptophobia 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 scriptophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Scriptophobia
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 scriptophobia 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 scriptophobia 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 scriptophobia 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 scriptophobia. 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 scriptophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Exposure Therapy for Scriptophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as scriptophobia. 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 scriptophobia 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 scriptophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their scriptophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with scriptophobia 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.
Working Out for Scriptophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including scriptophobia. 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 scriptophobia 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 scriptophobia, 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 scriptophobia over time.
Yoga Practice for Scriptophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from scriptophobia. 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 scriptophobia 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 scriptophobia 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 scriptophobia.
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 scriptophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.