What is Pupaphobia?

Puppets are part of our childhood. They have been tools to entertain and educate young kids and are considered by many to be fun and entertaining. Pupaphobia is a term used to define people with the fear of puppets and this can be brought about by the fear of hard, hand-painted faces of puppets, especially those made in the past. Additionally, they may feel that the smiling faces of the wooden figures are watching them or that at any time, they might come to life.

Pupaphobia is the extreme and irrational fear of puppets and marionettes. This phobia is slightly common, but not as common as Coulrophobia (fear of clowns) and Pediophobia (fear of dolls).

This phobia is also related to Automatonophobia (fear of ventriloquist's dummies, animatronic creatures, wax statues, or anything that represents a being that appears to have feelings or perceptions).

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

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Symptoms of Pupaphobia

  • 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 Pupaphobia

Pupaphobia 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.

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

Sufferers might have watched a puppet show as a child and had terrible nightmares about it or have watched stories of killer puppets in the movies, thus they unconsciously conditioned themselves to fear all puppets.

Some might have developed this fear by watching Pinocchio, who was a puppet, and they fear that if they become bad, they will be turned into a puppet and not the other way around.

Almost all cases of Pupaphobia originate from childhood, because puppets are mainly directed to children. Sufferers would believe that puppets are real animated objects just like living things, even though they're not real. One of the causes include terrible nightmares about killer puppets.

Learn more about the causes of phobias ›

Treatments for Pupaphobia

  • 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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