What is Scelerophobia?

Scelerophobia is the fear of criminals, including robbers and burglars. People suffering this fear would worry about the things they own like money as well as their lives. Some who have had a criminal in their home never again feel safe in that home.

Scelerophobia is also related to Harpaxophobia (fear of robbers, thieves, or being robbed).

The name originates from the Latin word 'scelero' meaning 'wickedness' or 'crime' and the word 'phobia' comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning 'fear.'

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Symptoms of Scelerophobia

  • 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 Scelerophobia

Scelerophobia 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.

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

Gender is the strongest predictor of crime. Women fear crime more than men owing to greater possibility of sexual assaults, and other factors like fewer coping skills, irrationality, etc., are also attributed to higher levels of Scelerophobia in women.

Elderly people are also known to suffer from Scelerophobia more than younger people. This may be due to higher number of mugging or breaking-and-entering type of incidents. (Research has actually shown that elderly people are not specifically targets of crimes, but their level of Scelerophobia often exceeds their risk of victimization).

Trauma transference which occurs from watching a friend or a loved one become the victim of crime can also instigate the fear to an extent that one obsesses about locking windows and doors, closing shades and curtains, stowing away valuables, etc.

Geographical location can also lead to fear of crime in that there are higher crime rates in cities than in rural areas.

Learn more about the causes of phobias ›

Treatments for Scelerophobia

  • 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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