What is Orthophobia?

Orthophobia is the irrational and persistent fear of behaving incorrectly. Many sources also list this phobia as a fear of property.

People with this fear are genuinely and deeply fearful about being proper, having good manners, observing correct behavior, etc., which might be considered a more socially-based condition, but this phobia is classed as a specific, or “isolated” fear.

Following the use of Greek root words to describe phobias, a fear of property ownership would nominally use terms such as “Idioktesiaphobia” or “Periousiaphobia”, which are both based on Greek words for 'property' (as in ownership). Listings for these terms, however, are not to be found online, and from available evidence, it seems that Orthophobia refers to both conditions—fear of property and fear of impropriety.

The fear of property is thought to manifest in a fear of the responsibilities of ownership and may manifest in any degree, such as restriction to being afraid of owning land or other real property, avoiding flashy or gaudy fashions or jewelry, etc. This fear may originate from religious strictures regarding a rejection of worldly possessions, but may also originate from a communal environment in which shared property is seen as a higher goal.

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

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Symptoms of Orthophobia

  • 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 Orthophobia

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

Orthophobia, 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 ›

Treatments for Orthophobia

  • 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 ›

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