Galeophobia: Fear of Sharks

  • Time to read: 6 min.

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Sharks are some of the most feared creatures on Earth. And for good reason – they can be incredibly dangerous. But what is it about sharks that scares us so much? That gives people galeophobia? Is it their razor-sharp teeth? The fact that they can swim so fast? Or maybe it’s just the way they look.

Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that sharks can be pretty scary. And for some people, the fear of sharks is so strong that it completely takes over their lives. This phobia is known as galeophobia, and it can be extremely debilitating.

If you suffer from galeophobia, even thinking about sharks can send you into a panic. Seeing them on TV or in movies can be enough to trigger a full-blown anxiety attack. And in some cases, the fear is so strong that it prevents people from going into the water – even if they’re just swimming in a pool!

What is Galeophobia

what is galeophobia

Galeophobia is the fear of sharks (which is different than ichthyophobia, or the fear of fish). While most people never have to worry about encountering a shark, the media portray them as dangerous predators, which can make galeophobia worse.

Symptoms of galeophobia include anxiety, shortness of breath, and an overwhelming feeling of dread. In severe cases, people may even avoid bodies of water altogether. If you’re struggling with galeophobia, there are treatment options available.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you to challenge your negative thoughts about sharks and gradually expose you to situations that trigger your fear. With treatment, it’s possible to overcome your fear and enjoy swimming, diving, and other water activities again.

How Many People Are Afraid of Sharks?

At least 50% of all Americans admit to being “absolutely terrified” of sharks. That’s a lot of people who admit their fear of sharks, even though the odds of being attacked by a shark are very low.

In fact, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to be attacked by a shark. And yet, popular culture would have us believe that sharks are lurking around every corner, just waiting to attack.

What are the Symptoms of Galeophobia?

Symptoms of Galeophobia

Galeophobia, or fear of sharks, is a relatively rare phobia that can cause physical and psychological symptoms. People with galeophobia may experience anxiety, panic, and avoidance when they are near sharks or bodies of water where sharks may be present. In some cases, the fear is so severe that it can interfere with daily activities and quality of life.

Physical symptoms can include sweating, rapid heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. People with galeophobia may also avoid swimming, diving, or even watching shark documentaries or movies. If you think you might have galeophobia, it’s important to talk to a mental health professional who can help you manage your symptoms and create a treatment plan.

What Causes a Fear of Sharks?

There are several reasons why sharks evoke such a strong reaction in people. First of all, they are large and powerful predators. They have sharp teeth and can swim very fast, making them a dangerous opponent.

Additionally, sharks are often associated with violence and death, due to their role in popular culture. Movies like Jaws have made people extremely afraid of shark attacks, even though they are actually quite rare.

Finally, sharks are mysterious creatures that we know very little about. This lack of knowledge can make them seem even more dangerous.

Combine all of these factors together, and it’s no wonder that so many people are afraid of sharks.

Why Do Some People Fear Sharks More than Others?

There’s no doubt that sharks are predators. They’re big, they’re fast, and they have sharp teeth. But for all their fearsome reputation, sharks rarely attack humans. In fact, most shark species are more likely to flee than to fight when they encounter a human.

So why do some people fear sharks more than others?

Part of the answer may lie in our evolutionary history. For millions of years, humans have been prey for large predators like lions and tigers (just like the fear monsters, or teraphobia). As a result, we’ve evolved to be wary of anything that might pose a threat to our safety. Sharks share some characteristics with these other predators, which may trigger our natural aversion to them.

Additionally, sharks are often portrayed as dangerous villains in TV shows and movies, which can contribute to our fear of them. (Can anyone say fear of amputation?)

How to Overcome Galeophobia

How to overcome galeophobia

While most people associate sharks with attacks on humans, these incidents are actually quite rare. In fact, you are more likely to be struck by lightning than to be attacked by a shark. If you suffer from galeophobia, there are a few things you can do to overcome your fear.

First, it is important to educate yourself about sharks. Learn about their behavior and habitat, and understand that they are not out to harm humans.

Second, try gradually exposing yourself to images and videos of sharks. Start with pictures and then work your way up to videos.

Finally, consider taking a trip to an aquarium or marine park where you can see sharks up close in a safe setting. With time and patience, you can overcome your fear of sharks and enjoy the water again.

Treatments or Therapies for Galeophobia

While galeophobia can be debilitating, there are treatments and therapies available that can help people to overcome their fear. Exposure therapy, for instance, involves gradually exposing people to their fear in a controlled and safe environment. This can help them to understand that their fear is unfounded and that they can control their reactions.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, meanwhile, helps people to challenge their negative thoughts about sharks. By working with a therapist, people with galeophobia can learn to view sharks in a more positive light and ultimately conquer their fear.

What If You See a Shark while in the Water?

If you find yourself in the water and you see a shark, the best thing to do is to stay calm. Sharks are attracted to fast movement, so if you start thrashing around, you’re more likely to attract its attention.

Slowly back away from the shark and try to move toward shore. If the shark does attack, fight back. Hit it with whatever you have– fists, elbows, kicks, rocks, or even shells. Aim for the eyes or gills, which are sensitive areas.

Remember that your goal is to get away from the shark, not to kill it. If you can make enough noise and commotion, you might be able to scare it off. Once you’re out of the water, get medical help.

Bottom Line

Galeophobia, or the fear of sharks, is a common phobia. Sharks are predators, and they can be dangerous. However, attacks on humans are rare. If you suffer from galeophobia, some treatments and therapies can help you to overcome your fear.

If you see a shark while in the water, try to stay calm and slowly move away. If it attacks, fight back and make as much noise as possible.

FAQ – Galeophobia: Fear of Sharks

Is Galeophobia common?

While it’s difficult to quantify how many people experience Galeophobia specifically, fear of sharks is fairly common, due in large part to their portrayal in media as dangerous predators. However, only a fraction of these fears would be diagnosed as Galeophobia, which is an intense, disruptive fear.

How is Galeophobia treated?

Like other phobias, Galeophobia is typically treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, or a combination of the two. In some cases, medication for anxiety may be used in conjunction with therapy. A licensed mental health professional can guide individuals to the most appropriate treatment plan for them.

Can Galeophobia be cured?

Yes, many people with Galeophobia are able to manage or even overcome their fear with appropriate treatment. However, it’s important to remember that everyone’s journey with this phobia is unique and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, it’s essential to seek individualized treatment from a mental health professional.