What is Ochlophobia?

Ochlophobia (also spelled “Ochilophobia”) is an abnormal fear of crowds or mobs. It is closely related to Agoraphobia, the fear of public places and open spaces. Regardless of the cause, it can prevent the sufferer from functioning normally in even the smallest of crowds, such as those found in the lobbies of movie theaters, restroom lines, or small meetings or classes.

Those with an irrational fear of crowds may rationalize their fears by making note of the potential for being attacked, contracting a disease, becoming lost, etc.

Ochlophobia is considered a social phobia and it is also called Demophobia or Enochlophobia.

The root word 'ochlo' is Greek meaning 'crowd' and the word 'phobia' comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning 'fear.'

If you have this phobia, you most likely have one of these phobias too ›

Symptoms of Ochlophobia

  • Extreme Anxiety, Dread

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Confusion / Inability to Articulate Clearly
  • Lack of Focus
  • Irritability
  • 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 Ochlophobia

Ochlophobia is a social anxiety disorder. Social phobias result in avoidance of social situations due to fear of being embarrassed in public and affect men and women equally. Extreme social anxieties often start in childhood or adolescence and may be accompanied by other anxiety disorders or depression.

The origins of social anxiety disorders are not as well-understood as specific (or “isolated”) phobias, where a direct fear of injury from some specific animal, thing, or situation forms a clear basis for the fear. Even so, hereditary factors may be present, such as a genetic tendency to be “high strung”, nervous, etc.

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, seeing something in the news, on TV, or in the movies.

Ochlophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.

The chronic use of tranquilizers or sleeping pills (such as benzodiazepines) has been linked to Agoraphobia and related disorders such as Ochlophobia.

Previous trauma such as becoming lost in a crowd, being part of a crowd that turns violent, being trampled by a crowd, or being injured in a crowd are direct causes.

Learn more about the causes of phobias ›

Treatments for Ochlophobia

  • 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