Papyrophobia: Fear of Paper

  • Time to read: 5 min.

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For some people, the sound of paper rustling or the feel of paper against their skin can be enough to send them into a panic. This phobia is called papyrophobia, and it can be a very debilitating fear. People with papyrophobia may experience anxiety, shortness of breath, and an increased heart rate when they are around paper.

In severe cases, this phobia can lead to a full-blown panic disorder. It is a specific phobia, which means that it is an irrational fear of a particular object or situation. Papyrophobia can manifest itself in many different ways. Some people may be afraid of all types of paper, while others may only be afraid of certain types, such as lined paper or construction paper. Others may be afraid of touching paper, or even just looking at it. 

It can manifest itself in a number of ways, including the fear of touching paper, the fear of being near paper, or the fear of seeing paper. People with papyrophobia often go out of their way to avoid any contact with paper products. For example, they may avoid using public restrooms that have touched-screen toilet paper dispensers or use disposable gloves when handling paper money.

What Causes Papyrophobia? 

There is no one specific cause of papyrophobia. In most cases, it is thought to develop as a result of a bad experience with paper. For example, a child who is repeatedly scolded for tearing up sheets of lined paper may come to associate the act with negative feelings like fear and anxiety. Over time, this association can become so strong that the mere sight or thought of paper is enough to trigger these feelings. 

Papyrophobia can also be caused by observing someone else’s reaction to paper. If you see someone else exhibit signs of fear or anxiety when around paper—such as sweating or trembling—you may begin to feel the same way yourself. This phenomenon is known as “vicarious conditioning” and is a well-documented cause of specific phobias. 

Finally, papyrophobia may also be caused by genetics. If your parents or grandparents have this phobia, you may be more likely to develop it yourself due to something called “familial conditioning.” This occurs when children learn to fear something by observing their parents’ reactions to it. 

Additionally, some people may have a genetic predisposition to papyrophobia or other anxiety disorders.

How To Live with Papyrophobia

a paper processing plant

If you have papyrophobia, there are some things that you can do to manage your fear and live a normal life. Here are some tips: 

  • Educate yourself about papyrophobia and how it affects you. This knowledge can help you to understand your fear and give you a sense of control. 
  • Identify your triggers and avoid them if possible. If you know that seeing paper makes your anxiety worse, try to avoid places where you are likely to see it. 
  • Challenge your negative thoughts about paper. When you have a negative thought about paper, take a moment to examine it. Is it really true? What evidence do you have to support it? 
  • Practice relaxation techniques. When you feel your anxiety begin to rise, take some time to practice deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. These techniques can help to calm your body and mind. 
  • Seek professional help. If your fear of paper is severe, you may want to consider seeking treatment from a mental health professional.

Once you understand your fear and have some tools to manage it, you can begin to live a normal, productive life despite your fear of paper.

Other Treatments for Papyrophobia

If you suffer from papyrophobia, there are treatment options available that can help you to manage your fear. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one type of treatment that has been shown to be effective in treating phobias.

During CBT, you will work with a therapist to identify the thoughts and beliefs that are causing your fear. Once these thoughts and beliefs are identified, you will work on changing them.

Exposure therapy is another type of treatment that may be used to treat the fear of paper. Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing yourself to the thing that you are afraid of. This exposure therapy for phobias can be done in vitro (in imagination) or in vivo (in real life). With exposure therapy, it is important to start with small exposures and work your way up to larger ones.

Medications such as beta-blockers and benzodiazepines may also be used to treat the symptoms of papyrophobia.

My Life with Papyrophobia

My Life with Papyrophobia

Let’s hear from someone that actually suffers from this phobia:

“I have lived with papyrophobia for as long as I can remember. It started when I was a child and my parents would scold me for tearing up pieces of paper. I didn’t understand why they were so upset—it wasn’t like I was destroying something important. But their reactions made me afraid of paper and I’ve been afraid ever since.

My fear of paper has had a big impact on my life. I avoid places where there is paper, like offices and libraries. I also have to be careful about what I wear, because I can’t stand the feel of paper on my skin.

I know that my fear is irrational, but that doesn’t make it any less real. I’m working on managing my fear and I’m hopeful that someday I’ll be able to overcome it.”

Phobias Related to Papyrophobia

There are a number of phobias that are related to papyrophobia.

Some of these related phobias include xerophobia, which is the fear of dryness, and pulvillophobia, which is the fear of anything related to rain. Paper can also trigger a number of other phobias, including claustrophobia, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder.

In extreme cases, papyrophobia can lead to panic attack and excessive sweating. If you think you might be suffering from papyrophobia, it’s important to seek professional help. With treatment, it is possible to overcome your fear and live a normal life.


If you suffer from the fear of paper, you are not alone. This phobia affects many people around the world. Luckily, there are treatments available that can help you to manage your fear and live a normal life. If you think you may suffer from papyrophobia, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional about treatment options.

FAQ – Papyrophobia: Fear of Paper

Is fear of papercuts the same as papyrophobia?

No, they are two different phobias. Papyrophobia is the fear of paper, while the fear of papercuts doesn’t really have a name, but could be considered a sub-type of papyrophobia.

Does papyrophobia include wet paper?

No, this phobia specifically refers to the fear of dry paper. However, some people who suffer from papyrophobia may also be afraid of wet paper. In the end, everyone’s exposure to their fear is different and unique to them, so it’s important to talk to a professional if you’re concerned about your level of fear.

Is papyrophobia a real phobia?

Yes, this is a real phobia, just like other phobias like acrophobia. It is an anxiety disorder that can cause significant distress in those who suffer from it. If you think you may suffer from papyrophobia, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional about treatment options.