What is Cherophobia?

Cherophobia is an irrational aversion to happiness or gaiety. Classed as a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, this fear can have widespread social impact for the sufferer, leading to complete avoidance of social situations. A person with Cherophobia will avoid exposing themselves to feelings or displays of happiness or gaiety in themselves and other people, including television, literature, or other forms of media. As such, Cherophobia can lead to feelings of social isolation, alienation, low self-esteem, guilt, and shame.

Those who have this phobia aren’t necessarily sad, but they will be afraid to express happiness or have fun. The fear of happiness, gaiety, or the expressions of these emotions stems from the false thought that bad things will happen as a result. It is possible for Cherophobia to be misdiagnosed as a symptom of another mood disorder.

Although Cherophobia is not defined by someone’s inability to feel happiness or gaiety, a cherophobe may suffer from other mood or anxiety disorders. Other disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia, may be linked to Cherophobia, so it’s important not to get involved in the cherophobe’s treatment.

The origin of the word chero is Greek (meaning to rejoice; gaiety or happiness) and phobia is Greek (meaning fear).

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Symptoms of Cherophobia

  • 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

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Causes of Cherophobia

Cherophobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, centered on non-social key factors. Isolated phobias tend to have some previous trauma (often in childhood and often physically injurious) as a root cause; a fear of bees may stem from an injury in childhood, for instance. Possible traumatic experiences that could lead to cherophobia may include a sudden loss of family fortune, the loss of a loved one, being taught to feel guilty about one’s good fortune, or a series of traumatic events.

Upbringing can also play a role, such as parental warnings about a direct threat (e.g. “snakes can bite and kill you”) which is especially notable in cases where a threat is more imminent. An allergy to bees or peanut butter, for instance, would naturally reinforce a real medical concern.

It is thought that genetics and hereditary factors may play a role in specific phobias, especially those related to a danger of injury. A primal “fight or flight” reflex may be more easily triggered in those with a genetic predisposition, for instance. A knowledge of a cherophobe’s history of mental health can help speed up the process of diagnosis while ruling out other causes.

By contrast, social phobias (like a fear of body odor or touch) are less well understood, are driven by social anxiety and are broadly labeled as “social anxiety disorder”.

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.

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

Learn more about the causes of phobias ›

Treatments for Cherophobia

  • 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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