Many individuals are known to seek therapy for the fear of abandonment and issues related to it. The fear of abandonment phobia is characterized by extreme dependency on others. It is commonly seen in adults and children who are also diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorders. Such people live in the constant fear that their ‘world will collapse’ if their protectors or loved ones abandon them.
Fear of abandonment can lead to different issues that can cause harm to both the sufferer and his loved ones. Often, the phobic tends to threaten or sabotage his/her relationships using statements like “I will leave you before you leave me” or “You love them more than me” or “You’ve never loved me” and so on. This phobia can also lead to domestic violence: breaking or destroying property or even physically hurting loved ones.
Causes of Autophobia
- Doctors believe that, in majority of the cases, the fear of abandonment phobia stems from childhood trauma when a parent or loved one leaves following a divorce (or dies). Even in adulthood, the sufferer continues to believe and fear that every significant person in his/her life is going to abandon him/her in a similar way. Thus, the phobia stems from behavior learned from childhood experiences.
- Abandonment in childhood can be physical, emotional or financial. All of these can be traumatic to the young child. Death of a parent gives rise to several overwhelming feelings followed by financial difficulties, change of lifestyle, or change of home etc. This deepens the trauma further.
- Sometimes, the fear of abandonment phobia can come on suddenly in adulthood, when one is financially or emotionally dependent on another adult, who dies or leaves leading to significant loss of financial and emotional support.
- Individuals with an adrenal deficiency or those with a general tendency towards being overly anxious or ‘high strung’ are also more likely to suffer from such phobia.
Symptoms of the fear of abandonment phobia
Autophobia varies in degree and intensity leading to different levels of symptoms in suffering individuals. Major symptoms brought on by this phobia include:
- Avoiding intimacy or relationships
- Anxiety and panic attack symptoms such as shaking, trembling, nausea, headaches, gastrointestinal distress, increased heart rate, shallow or rapid breathing etc at the thought of being left alone.
These psychological effects are seen in every aspect of the sufferer’s life to an extent that it may impact his/her social, professional and intimate relationships:
- A spouse constantly suspects his/her partner of having an affair.
- Autophobic parent does not allow his/her child to form intimate relationships with peers.
- A partner constantly sends messages/calls or texts the other.
- One attends office functions or other events where one is not invited.
- Stalks ex-spouse following a divorce.
Overcoming the fear of abandonment
A big part of overcoming Autophobia is developing love for self and confidence in one’s abilities. One must also discuss beforehand all of one’s needs before forming intimate relationships.
Finding a ‘safe and calm haven’ is a recommended technique to overcome this phobia. This is best done through positive visualization and affirmations as well as meditation and other mind-body techniques.
Family or loved ones of individuals suffering from this phobia also play an important role in the therapy. Loved ones need to be firm and not give in to the phobic’s demands especially ones that are unhealthy for them. If one feels physically threatened by the individual, it is best to stay away and get police help. Arguing with such a person is only going to make matters worse and often loved ones find themselves isolated from others.
Hypnotherapy is a tried and tested therapy for treating Autophobia. It gets to the root of the problem and helps reprogram the subconscious thoughts to help dispel the fear.
Other scientific treatments for overcoming fear of abandonment include NLP or neuro linguistic programming and energy psychology both of which are proven methods to overcome Autophobia.
Honestly I don’t know what I have but every time I get left by myself I get very scared. I can hear one noise and I think about the worst things that could possibly happen, mostly thinking someone is in the house and they are gonna come try to hurt me. Idk why. I’ve never been in a bad situation like that but it just comes to my mind and at night it gets 10x worse. I get so scared I start shaking and no matter what, I need to have every light on in the house and in a room somewhere with my back against the wall so I can see everything. Someone please tell me what I could do to help? This has only been going on for about 2 years. I’m only 20.
The hardest part of this phobia, for me, is whether I have it or not. I have abandonment issues thanks to an aunt who would always promise to be there but never showed, a half brother and his wife who showered me with affection until they had a kid and went MIA for 10 years, and various other relatives who had no issues ignoring me after my grandma’s death. I am terrified of my mom dying because I don’t want her to leave me alone. I am afraid to be in relationships because I know they’ll leave too. I tried having friends but my best friend left me to live with his mom in another state and it hurt really badly. I felt bad about how I felt so I never told him about it because I was afraid he would stay and resent me for it. I hate going places in public without someone with me. That being said, I am also very antisocial and like to be left alone so I’m constantly struggling between these two polar opposite struggles and it is not only anxiety inducing but exhausting.
One Small Step At A Time says
I have suffered from this for about 2 years and it all started when i was sleeping and i woke from this very light sleep when i heard my dog barking to go outside when i woke up i noticed my parents didn’t take him out and when i did take him out i didn’t see neither of their cars outside and then i got worried and ran to their room and they weren’t there and this is when i ran to find my phone but they left their phones and i was home alone for a day i had things to keep my mind off of it but i was crying so much because it was my only guardian that was at my home but when they came back they said they where going to a friends and got into traffic when they got there it was really late and my mom didn’t really want not drive home and my dad had a few drinks so i wasn’t too mad.
Mike Lipinski says
How old were you at that time? Just asking, because I went through something similar many times when I was about 8 years old. My parents never abandoned me, but their lack of concern and their indifferent parenting skills – my mother was a narcissist and my father her enabler – created a toxic vacuum in my soul, and now many, many years later, I still go through this with my wife and have gone through a similar thing with my son, who is now an adult.
I wish I were. I don’t feel much like an adult when I become emotionally paralyzed when I try to reach my wife by phone and she doesn’t get back to me right away.
the girl who cares says
Hello, i am studying phobias and i think that this is awesome that you did this, so thank you!
I’ve been abandoned by everyone I’ve ever met so of course I fear being abandoned and expect it from everyone I meet its always the same story I can never keep a friend for longer than a few days or weeks or months, longest was 2 years. People have hurt me so much my whole life so I just have a fear of people in general. I wish I had at least 1 person I could trust.
I had a guy friend that was always there for me but then he left without saying anything in 5th grade, but last year when one of my friends that i met in 2nd grade that lived in fremont, came to my school, i didn’t talk to him that much until this year because 7th grade has been hell for me emotionally, especially when someone that i know tried to OD last week. But now we will never leave each other, we will always be there for one another. What im trying to say is, find someone that you have known forever and just keep talking with them almost every day and you’ll have this bond that will never be broken.
Kristen k says
I need help
That’s actually the same for me.
Rather than take an aggressive approach towards it, I stay silent and let it tear me apart. I’m often questioning if I’m good enough for my friends and think they’re going to leave me. I’m incapable of making more than a couple close friends and I can’t stand the idea of my friends having someone more important to them than me.
I have the same problem.
sheetal Gandhi says
i am facing a similar problem
I have the same thing. Yesterday I told my two closest and most important friends about it. It was very difficult to actually say it straightforward. I can’t handle it when they talk about other people. I have already accepted some people in their lives but I still struggle with it. Every time they mention another person I get anxiety. I tried hinting them about this thing before but when I finally told them the truth they were a bit surprised that it was this bad. I knew that this would cause some issues because they didn’t really know how to handle it and they were afraid of hurting me. They thought it was better to shut up but then they didn’t reply and I cried and was afraid that they would leave me. After some more talking they reassured me that they wouldn’t leave me. I can handle the anxiety, I don’t want them to leave because of this stupid thing. I wish that they wouldn’t have to worry about it and just stay the way they are.
Life is one Squeeze Every Moment says
Life is one Squeeze Every Moment PRIYA says
i have been studying psychology throughout my life. I am a MA in psychology. Still I love helping people. I must say I be through these things almost every second day. The one thing you all have to do is accept your thoughts fighting to enter your brain. Its a request, do not fight with your thoughts, let them come to you and accept the situation. The more we fight the more we are in pain and fear which will result in anxiety and panic attacks.
Phyllis A Locke says
That’s really excellent advice. Thank you. I have a hard time letting myself feel what I feel.