What is Cibophobia?
Cibophobia, also known as “Sitophobia” or “Sitiophobia”, is an irrational fear of food and is a relatively complicated phobia prone to obsession.
People with this phobia are sometimes mistakenly thought to suffer from anorexia or other serious eating disorders. In such cases, the main difference is that anorexics fear the effects of food on body image, while those with Cibophobia fear the food itself.
The root word 'cibo' is Latin meaning 'food' and the word 'phobia' comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning 'fear.'
Symptoms of Cibophobia
Extreme Anxiety, Dread
- Shortness of Breath
- Rapid Breathing
- Heart Palpitations
- Excessive Sweating
- Dry Mouth
- Confusion / Inability to Articulate Clearly
- Lack of Focus
- Feelings of Powerlessness
- Obsession with the Subject of the Phobia
- Fear or Feelings of Losing Control
- Avoidance Behavior
Causes of Cibophobia
Cibophobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, centered on non-social key factors. Such 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.
Upbringing can also play a role, such as parental warnings about a direct threat (such as “snakes can bite and kill you”) which is especially notable in cases where a threat is more imminent. (An allergy to 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.)
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.
Cibophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.
Associations with past experiences of food poisoning, or having eaten something extremely unpleasant may be root causes. Dieters attempting extreme diets may also generate conditions for this phobia to develop.
Another reason for fear of food may be the fear of germs and associated phobias such as Bacillophobia or Microphobia. A simple food allergy can also be a root cause.
Treatments for Cibophobia
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
- Habit Strategies To Relax
- Cognitive Therapy (CT)
- In Vivo Exposure
- Response Prevention
- Group Therapy
- Energy Psychology