Eicophobia, also spelled ecophobia is the irrational and obsessive fear of houses, being in a house, home surroundings and certain items in a house. The types of items people fear in a house vary, but are generally familiar and can be such things as bedrooms, bathrooms, appliances, electrical items, etc.
The root word “eico” is Greek meaning “house”.
- extreme anxiety, dread
- shortness of breath
- rapid breathing
- heart palpitation
- 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
This fear can be based on events which may or may not be linked directly to the home itself. Individuals who experienced physical or emotional abuse at home can manifest this fear, but a direct link to trauma is not needed for the phobia to develop.
A fear of returning home may derive from thinking that the return to the family home could be perceived as a shameful failure. Low self-esteem can be a root contributing factor in this way.
Eicophobia 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.
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 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.)
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 or seeing something on the news or on TV and movies.
Eicophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.