What is Hylephobia?

Not to be confused with “hylophobia” (a fear of forests or wood), hylephobia is the irrational and persistent fear of materialism or of epilepsy. Since the word roots for epilepsy are quite different, this name association seems odd, and research does not show how the term came to mean “fear of epilepsy”. On the other hand, the Greek term hyle means “movement of the spirit” and this may have provided the origin of the term as the fear of materialism.
Symptoms of Hylephobia

When a person with this fear learns that someone they may come in contact with has epilepsy they may be quick to cancel any personal contact. They struggle with the potential for something they can’t control so it is just easier to simply stay away from that which they believe to be uncontrollable.

While the epileptic can’t control when or where they may have a seizure the phobic personality may exercise control over where and with whom them spend their time. This phobia can lead to social anxiety thereby encouraging other phobias to co-exist with hylephobia.

  • 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 Hylephobia

When one gets a seizure attack, he or she losses self-control and inhibition, may lose consciousness and may cause other people around them to panic. This can cause the person to feel embarrassed and can lead to poor self-esteem. People with uncontrolled epilepsy are usually introverts and may limit their group of friends to people they know can respond with professionalism when they get an attack.

If you don’t live with the seizures personally you might fear them because by observing them you are left feeling frightened with a hint of hopelessness. There doesn’t seem to be much you can do to help and the seizure is both unexpected and a personal struggle.

You might also find that a struggle with this fear in the life of another contributes to your own sense of fear. We model what we see so if you had a relative who found this a difficult situation it is likely you will have similar feelings about epilepsy.

Hylephobia 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.

Hylephobia, 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 Hylephobia

  • 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.