What is Hylophobia?
Hylophobia is defined by an irrational fear of wood, forests or trees.
Specific trees may afflict a person negatively and evoke strong and relentless anxiety.
Hylophobia is considered a specific phobia, and it is also related to or referred to as dendrophobia (fear of forests, wood or trees) and xylophobia (fear of wooden objects and/or forests). Another closely related fear is nyctohylophobia, the specific fear of dark wooded areas or of forests at night (from “nycto” meaning “night”).
The root word “hylo” is Greek meaning “forest”.
Symptoms of Hylophobia
- 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
Causes of Hylophobia
Especially for children, a fear of the unknown can contribute to this fear. Tree branches during winter can provoke fearful imagery in low light, and shadows of dancing leaves or the sound of swaying branches might cause a sense of Gothic darkness or terror, which is reinforced in Halloween references.
Hylophobia 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.
Hylophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.
Treatment for Hylophobia
- Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
- Habit strategies to relax
- Cognitive therapy (CT)
- In vivo exposure
- Response prevention
- Group therapy
- Energy Psychology
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.