What is Catagelophobia?

Catagelophobia, also spelled “Katagelophobia”, is the irrational fear of being ridiculed.

While people normally have a social concern with ridicule or embarrassment, those with this phobia consider it a trauma to be avoided at all costs, including in extreme cases taking measures to avoid social contact of any kind. Sufferers may go so far as to take overheard comments that are not related to them as a slight.

This phobia is closely related to Agoraphobia, the fear of crowds and Gelotophobia, the fear of being laughed at.

The Greek root words 'cata' means 'put down' and 'gelo' means 'laugh' and the word 'phobia' comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning 'fear.'

If you have this phobia, you most likely have one of these phobias too ›

Symptoms of Catagelophobia

  • Extreme Anxiety, Dread

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Confusion / Inability to Articulate Clearly
  • Lack of Focus
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Feelings of Powerlessness
  • Obsession with the Subject of the Phobia
  • Fear or Feelings of Losing Control
  • Avoidance Behavior
  • Headaches

Learn more about phobia symptoms ›

Causes of Catagelophobia

Catagelophobia is classed as a social anxiety disorder. Social phobias result in avoidance of social situations due to fear of being embarrassed in public. Social phobia affects men and women equally. Extreme social anxieties often start in childhood or adolescence and may be accompanied by other anxiety disorders or depression.

The origins of social anxiety disorders are not as well understood as specific (or “isolated”) phobias, where a direct fear of injury from some specific animal, thing or situation forms a clear basis for the fear. Even so, hereditary factors may be present, such as a genetic tendency to be “high strung” or nervous, etc.

In all kinds of phobias, external experiences and / or reports can further reinforce or develop the fear, such as seeing a family member or friend who is affected. In extreme cases, indirect exposures can be as remote as overhearing a reference in conversation, seeing something in the news, on TV, or in the movies.

Catagelophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.

The fear of being ridiculed usually starts taking root in early years of childhood during a growth phase where people are generally more sensitive emotionally.

Learn more about the causes of phobias ›

Treatments for Catagelophobia

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

  • Habit Strategies To Relax
  • Cognitive Therapy (CT)
  • In Vivo Exposure
  • Response Prevention
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Medication
  • Meditation

Learn more about phobia treatments ›

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