Symmetrophobia is an often overlooked but nonetheless debilitating phobia that affects a surprisingly large number of people. It is the fear of symmetry, and it can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from anxiety when confronted with perfectly balanced objects to even more extreme reactions such as panic attacks or avoidance behaviors. For those afflicted by symmetrophobia, the world can seem like a very frightening place indeed.
This article explores what causes this condition, how it manifests itself and some coping strategies for dealing with its symptoms. We will also look at some real life examples of individuals who have suffered from this fear in order to gain insight into their struggles and triumphs over this powerful force.
With increased understanding and awareness we can help bring comfort to those affected by symmetrophobia and provide them with the tools they need to live happier lives free from fear and pain.
What is Symmetrophobia?
Symmetry is often considered to be the epitome of beauty, balance, and harmony. But for some people, this notion couldn’t be further from reality. Symmetrophobia is an unusual and somewhat rare fear which entails an irrational fear or dread of symmetrical things or patterns.
The term “symmetrophobia” is composed of two Greek words; “symmetro” which means equal, and “phobia” which means fear. It is often interchangeably referred to as “Symmetry Fear” or “Pattern Fear.”
Symmetry refers to the idea of similarity of form and configuration on either side of a dividing line, plane, or point. For example, a butterfly has perfect symmetry because, when bisected down the middle, both sides of the insect have identical features. Symmetry, in essence, denotes an exact mirroring of one or more elements on a plane or through a central axis.
While it is still unclear what causes this phobia, studies suggest that it may stem from an individual’s personal experiences, social influences or fears that have developed subconsciously. This fear can result in extreme discomfort, panic, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, elevated body temperature, nausea, and even vomiting at the mere sight of symmetrical patterns or objects.
Interestingly, symmetrophobia is not just limited to inanimate objects or patterns but can also apply to the human body. For example, some people with this phobia experience immense discomfort when looking into a mirror or seeing the symmetry in another person’s face.
Causes of Symmetrophobia
Symmetrophobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by an irrational fear of symmetry. The mere sight of symmetrical objects, shapes, or designs can trigger intense fear, anxiety, and panic attacks in individuals with this phobia. But, what causes this fear of symmetry? Let’s explore some of the possible reasons.
Symmetrophobia can stem from traumatic experiences associated with symmetry in the past. For example, a person may have been involved in a car accident where the car was split into two halves symmetrically. The individual may unknowingly develop a fear of symmetry after such an event.
Some researchers believe that symmetrophobia may stem from evolutionary factors. Symmetry in nature is often an indication of health and fertility. Therefore, humans may have evolved to detect symmetry as a sign of good health, but when they see an unnatural level of symmetry, their brains may interpret this as something wrong.
Cultural and Environmental Factors
Cultural factors and environmental influences can play a role in the development of symmetrophobia. For instance, certain cultures place great emphasis on asymmetrical patterns and designs, leading people that grew up in such cultures to fear symmetry. Also, living in a chaotic environment where everything is not uniform and symmetrical could trigger symptoms of symmetrophobia.
The Relationship with Other Mental Health Disorders
Symmetrophobia can be a symptom of other mental health disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research suggests that people with OCD or PTSD may in fact be more likely to develop symmetrophobia due to the influence of their primary disorders.
Symptoms of Symmetrophobia
If you suffer from symmetrophobia, you may experience a wide range of symptoms that can have a profound impact on your daily life. In this section, we will explore the various symptoms of symmetrophobia in detail to help you understand what to look out for.
Physical symptoms of symmetrophobia may include a rapid heart rate or shortness of breath. You may feel dizzy or lightheaded, and your palms may become sweaty. Some people may experience a tingling sensation or numbness in their body. It’s vital to recognize these symptoms, as they can trigger a full-blown panic attack.
Symmetrophobia can also have several psychological symptoms. For instance, you may develop an intense sense of anxiety, fearing that things aren’t symmetrical or in balance. You may also experience a sense of terror or even a feeling of impending doom. This irrational fear may cause you to go to great lengths to avoid experiencing any symmetrical shapes or designs.
Imagine being afraid of a large group photo, where everyone is standing too close, creating symmetry in the photo. Even everyday objects like kitchen utensils and coffee cups could trigger your anxiety if they are arranged symmetrically. The mere thought of entering a room with symmetrical decorations could be enough to set off a panic attack.
Coping Strategies for Dealing with Symmertophobia
If you are experiencing symmetrophobia, coping strategies can help you manage your fear and live a happier life.
Here are some coping strategies that might help you manage your symmetrophobia:
Mindfulness comprises exercises that help to calm the mind and tame anxiety. Mindfulness can be done by taking deep breaths, practicing meditation, or any other calming strategy that helps you relax. When you feel anxious or stressed due to symmetry, try practicing a mindfulness activity to help reduce anxiety and help you cope with your fear.
Gradual Exposure Therapy
Gradual exposure therapy is a technique that involves gradually exposing yourself to situations in which you experience symmetrophobia. Exposure therapy for phobias helps to desensitize you to the fear, and over time, the fear will be less strong. For instance, if you are afraid of seeing symmetrical objects, you can start by looking at pictures of symmetrical objects and work towards encountering symmetrical objects in real life.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a therapy method that helps you recognize and change negative thought patterns that may contribute to other anxiety disorders or your fear of symmetry. A therapist will guide you through practical exercises to help you understand your thought process and teach you how to manage your fears. This technique helps you to gain a better understanding of how your fears work and can be particularly helpful if your symmetrophobia negatively impacts your day-to-day life.
Joining a support group can be helpful as you will meet other individuals with symmetrophobia. Support groups provide a safe environment where individuals can share their experiences and provide emotional support to one another. They can also teach coping strategies and give advice on how to manage your fears.
Real Life Examples of the Fear of Symmetry
Symmetrophobia, also known as the fear of symmetry, is a condition that affects a small portion of the population. People suffering from this phobia may experience intense anxiety, panic attacks, and avoidance behaviors in response to symmetrical objects or patterns.
One real-life example of this condition occurred in a woman who was unable to leave her home due to the presence of symmetrical patterns in her environment. She experienced panic attacks whenever she saw anything with perfect symmetry, including tiles, curtains, and even her own reflection in the mirror.
Another example is that of a man who would avoid public places with symmetrical architecture or buildings. He would walk on only one side of the street to ensure that he did not have to look at the symmetrical buildings on the opposite side.
Interestingly, some individuals with symmetrophobia have reported that they feel as though the symmetry in their environment is “watching” them. This feeling can further exacerbate their anxiety and depression levels and lead to agoraphobia or social isolation.
It is important to note that while symmetrophobia is a real condition, it is also treatable through therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and medication. With proper treatment, those suffering from this phobia can learn to manage their fear and live normal, healthy lives.
FAQ – Symmetrophobia: Fear of Symmetry
Is the opposite of symmetrophobia a fear of asymmetry?
No, the opposite of symmetrophobia is not a fear of asymmetry. While symmetrophobia is the fear of symmetry and asymmetry, the opposite would be a lack of fear or anxiety in response to symmetry. The fear of large objects, whether symmetrical or not, is called megalophobia.
Why does symmetrophobia cause agoraphobia?
Symmetrophobia can cause agoraphobia due to the fear of encountering any kind of symmetrical pattern in public places. This can lead to social isolation and avoidance behaviors as the individual will avoid going out in order to avoid coming into contact with symmetrical patterns.
How is symmetrophobia treated?
Symmetrophobia can be treated with a variety of therapies and medications, including exposure therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and medication. It is important to consult with a doctor or mental health professional in order to determine the best treatment plan for you.
What kinds of objects can trigger symmetrophobia?
Symmetrophobia can be triggered by any kind of symmetrical object or pattern, including buildings, curtains, tiles, and even reflections in the mirror. It is important to remember that this condition can affect individuals in many different types of ways, so it is important to consult with a mental health professional if you believe that you may suffer from symmetrophobia.