What is it Graphophobia?

An overwhelming and irrational fear of writing or handwriting is known as graphophobia. Sufferers may doubt their ability to write legibly, for instance, even if they are fully capable of good handwriting.

In extreme cases, sufferers are unable to work at jobs that require writing. The fear is especially debilitating in case of students who are unable to progress in school, and this fear may be a “self-fulfilling fear” that stems from a learning disability (such as dyslexia) in the sense that the fear of failure makes the failure worse.

The name originates from the Greek word “grapho” meaning “write” or "draw".

Symptoms of Graphophobia

Sufferers are often extremely guarded about their writing. In extreme cases they may write only at night to avoid being seen by others. They will be particular about where and what they write. Depression, isolation and other difficulties in school or at work are additional signs.

  • extreme anxiety, dread
  • shortness of breath
  • rapid breathing
  • heart palpitation
  • excessive sweating
  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • confusion / inability to articulate clearly
  • lack of focus
  • irritability
  • diarrhea
  • 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 Graphophobia

A fear of exposure and embarrassment can contribute to this fear in the sense that a diary might become public knowledge. Oddly, a fear of future success can also cause a fear of writing in this way. The person who suffers from this fear can become afraid of writing down personal thoughts for fear of being reviewed later.

Graphophobia 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.

Graphophobia, 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

Treatment for Graphophobia

  • 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

Book Shelf

The list of books below are hand picked by the staff at Massive Phobia. It's a mixture of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Habit Strategies, Trauma Healing, Mindfulness, Meditation, Buddhist Knowledge and Somatic Study. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.