Necrophobia is an intense anxiety disorder characterized by the fear of dead bodies or corpses. The word Necrophobia is derived from Greek nekros meaning corpse and phob(os) meaning fear or anxiety. People with this phobia often avoid funerals and wakes as they are terrified of seeing dead bodies. Let us study Necrophobia in detail.
Causes of Necrophobia
Like all extreme forms of anxiety disorders, the fear of corpses can be traced back to one’s childhood. The causes naturally depend on the individual and vary from person to person. Below is a list of some common factors that could trigger the fear of dead things:
- A traumatic incident in the past – The phobic might have witnessed the death of a closed one at a young age which later develops into extreme fear about it.
- Learned response – Many anxieties and phobias are actually picked up from the environment. A child might, for example, observe the fearful response of an adult he trusts. S/he then picks up a similar response. Parents who are overly anxious could pass on a similar mindset in their child.
- Genes – Many phobias, including Necrophobia, are hereditary. Certain genes tend to make some individuals more prone to such anxiety disorders than others.
- The response becomes a vicious cycle – The fearful response one has to all things related to corpses or dead things can be quite embarrassing. This in turn becomes a vicious cycle in that, a person becomes afraid of having said response and keeps harping on these negative thoughts and emotions. This causes her/him to be even more fearful about facing a situation involving corpses.
- Stress – Chronic unresolved stress can also cause phobias. Anxiety and depression, as well as work or personal stress if left unchecked, could develop into a phobia.
- Movies books and media – They also play a role in feeding one’s fears.
Symptoms of Fear of Corpses
Phobias produce varying symptoms in sufferers; what you experience may or may not be the same as experienced by another Necrophobic. In general, necrophobia can present emotional, physical and psychological symptoms such as:
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Losing touch with reality-feeling a sense of detachment
- Feeling of choking or shortness of breath
- Sweaty palms and racing heart
- Tightness in chest
- Feeling like running away and hiding
- Unable to think clearly-feeling loss of control
- Feeling like dying
- Hot and cold flashes
- Trembling or shaking
- Fearing fainting spells
Intense symptoms of necrophobia can lead to a full blown anxiety or panic attack. Even experiencing this fear can be terrifying and may make the phobic feel stressed and out of control. Such reactions can also leave one completely overwhelmed. The fear of losing control can lead one to become aloof and unsocial. Many phobics avoid situations where they may be faced with the object of their fear, in this case-funerals and wakes. Even talking about corpses or watching movies in the genre can be terrifying. This often makes him/her an object of ridicule.
Treatment for Necrophobia
Self help is the best form of treatment for overcoming the fear of dead things. Read up all you can about this phobia. Talk to someone you trust-it could be a friend or a family member. Learn to manage anxiety through deep breathing, counting backwards, or relaxation techniques like meditation, positive visualization etc. You can also join a peer group online or offline. Speaking to other people with similar anxiety can be comforting and can give you a different perspective on things.
There are several treatments available for phobias like this one. Your physician can recommend one to you.
- Talk therapy is one of them. Speak to a psychologist or a counselor who can guide you in managing anxiety symptoms.
- Cognitive behavior therapy is also a popular treatment for Necrophobia. This therapy uses a variety of methods including desensitization to change negative thoughts and behavioral patterns to more realistic ones.
- Exposure therapy can also help- the phobic is exposed to the object of her/his fears, in this case, corpses, in a safe manner. Through repeated experiences, you will feel more in control of your fear.
- Hypnotherapy is another line of effective treatment. Seek help from an experienced hypnotherapist.
If the above therapies do not help, then your doctor could prescribe medicines such as anti-depressants, tranquilizers and/or beta-blockers. However, many of these are habit forming and come with adverse side effects and must be only taken as a last resort.