We all have things that frighten us or make us uneasy. In case of people with Automatonophobia, the fear is pertaining to human like figures such as dolls, mannequins, robots and so on. The word Automatonophobia comes from Greek autos or automatos which means self-acting and phobos which means aversion or deep fear. Rarely is the fear of human-like figures likely to impact one’s day to day life. However, for people suffering from it, there can be considerable anxiety, nervousness and hesitation around such figures. Let us take a look at the causes, symptoms and treatment options for Automatonophobia.
Causes of Automatonophobia
Anxiety is a normal part of life. It prepares us for danger situations and also helps us act quickly. More than 19 million Americans are estimated to suffer from common anxiety disorders and phobias. Like all other specific phobias, the fear of human like figures arises out of the blue, typically in one’s childhood. It can be traced back to an event in one’s past which causes shock or trauma in the sufferer’s life.
- As a child, the phobic may have seen movies or read books on automatons. Many sci-fi thrillers like I, Robot depict robots with artificial intelligence that become capable of taking decisions and display negative behaviour. A visit to the wax museum having human figures could be a ‘creepy’ experience to someone with a sensitive mind. Siblings or friends of the phobic might have played a prank on her/him as a result of which s/he could develop a phobia of human like figures for life.
- In general, a combination of genetic tendencies, brain chemistry, and other biological, psychological and environmental factors can all cause phobias.
- A learned or acquired response can also be responsible for Automatonophobia. An older anxious sibling or parent could pass on this specific phobia indirectly to a child.
- Some people simply have a strong reaction to panic or fear. This can be embarrassing them and could lead them to develop even more anxiety towards human-like figures.
- Stress and depression, if left untreated, can, over a long period of time, lead to phobia.
Symptoms of fear of human-like figures
The impact of this phobia on the sufferer’s life depends on how easy it is to avoid the object of fear-in this case human like figures. Many individuals will go to great lengths to avoid places where such figures may be present. This includes malls with mannequins, museums and movies linked to automatons etc. Sometimes, this can disrupt daily routine and even reduce self esteem and work efficiency.Not many people understand the fear the sufferer experiences and might laugh at the phobic. This could strain relationships. Here are some symptoms of Automatonophobia:
- Feeling out of touch with reality
- Dizziness, feeling of choking, light headedness etc
- Hot or cold flushes
- Sweaty palms
- Racing heart
- Thoughts of death or dying
- Trembling, shaking
- Nausea, vomiting
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath of feeling suffocated
Automatonophobia can bring on different symptoms in different people. The mere thought of encountering one could trigger an intense panic attack. To the sufferer, this fear can be alarming, even embarrassing. It may make him/her feel out of control and stressed. Most phobics try and avoid situations where they could encounter human-like figures. Avoiding them may not always be possible and could have a significant impact on relationships and day-to-day life.
Treatment for fear of human-like figures
Start by talking about your fear to someone who cares. Having someone listen to you can be a great relief. You can also speak to your family physician who can then guide you to a therapist. Learn to manage your anxiety by reading up everything there is about the fear. This will help manage panic attacks. Try deep breathing and other relaxation techniques like meditation.
Online and offline support groups are available to help overcome anxiety. Sharing your experience with someone who is in a similar situation can be of great help. The fact that you aren’t alone is also very calming.
Cognitive behavior therapy
CBT or cognitive behavior therapy aims to identify connections between thoughts, feelings and one’s responses to them. This helps break patterns to manage anxiety attacks. CBT consists of several different techniques including desensitization which includes exposing yourself to the object of your fear –in this case automatons or human-like figures- until you no longer experience distress or anxiety.
Hypnotherapists implement techniques that help phobics relax so that they can determine the root cause of the fear. Seek an experienced therapist to help relieve symptoms of Automatonophobia.
Antidepressants, tranquilizers and beta blockers calm anxiety and relax the mind. However, you should only use these as a last resort. Many of these drugs have adverse side effects like drowsiness etc.
We hope this guide helps explain what Automatonophobia is all about, its causes, symptoms as well as ways of helping yourself or a family member suffering from it.