Alektorophobia or the fear of chickens is derived from the Greek word ‘Alektor’ which means ‘rooster’ and ‘phobos’ meaning ‘fear’. As the name indicates, this phobia causes an irrational fear of chickens (or other feathered creatures as well as their eggs) in the sufferer. It is not only seeing the chickens in person that causes a panic attack in the individual; sometimes, merely the images or photographs of chickens are enough to trigger such reactions.
Causes of Alektorophobia
Alektorophobia is not a common phobia, but those that are impacted by it tend to have had a traumatic experience involving feathered fowls. Naturally, most phobic individuals are never born with the fear; they just learn it owing to certain experiences at social events or during one’s school days.
In Alektorophobia, the fear is mainly targeted towards the live birds (usually not their meat) as one believes the birds might attack them. This type of phobia is hence found to be more common in individuals living on farms.
Often, people suffering from the fear of chickens do not even remember how it started in the first place. They simply remember experiencing the symptoms of fear. Evolutionary psychologists believe that it is a part of the brain that recognizes the flight or fight response on seeing the feathered beings. In majority of these cases, the fear just continues to grow with age.
As with every kind of phobia, the “why” is not as important as the “how”- what this means is that, instead of determining where or why the fear has developed from, it is essential to understand “how” the mind creates the fear (does it create images, what are the thoughts one gets and so on). This is more important for considering the right line of treatment.
Symptoms of the fear of chickens
There are physical and psychological symptoms of Alektorophobia.
- A person might display signs of anxiety prior to visiting a farm. For others, even the mental image of a feathered bird is enough to cause a panic attack.
- Most suffering from Alektorophobia will go to lengths to avoid encountering chickens.
- Irritability or restlessness upon seeing chickens is one of the symptoms of this fear of chickens.
- Dry mouth, sweating and trembling, cardiovascular symptoms like tightness in the chest or difficulty to breathe are few other physical symptoms of Alektorophobia.
- Nausea and other gastrointestinal distress as well as the inability to form words and articulate thoughts are some other symptoms of Alektorophobia.
Treatment of Alektorophobia
There are various methods and therapies for overcoming the fear of chickens phobia.
- Medications like benzodiazepines may be prescribed but they should be considered as the last line of treatment owing to their severe withdrawal symptoms. Moreover, these drugs do not cure the fear but only treat the anxiety symptoms associated with it.
- Hynotherapy or hypnoanalysis is useful in helping the individual determine the exact cause of the fear and develop new patterns or ideas along with positive suggestions for overcoming it. The American Medical Association has approved this line of treatment since 1958 for overcoming many phobias.
- Neuro Linguistic programming is another method used for curing Alektorophobia. This science is based on the principle that an individual creates words related to his/her phobia and continues to use and think them over and over causing the fear in the first place. Therapists practicing this method study the patient’s facial expressions and eventually help in remodeling one’s thoughts when faced with the object of the fears.
- Cognitive behavior and behavior therapies that involve exposure and gradual desensitization can be useful to learn to tolerate the anxiety experienced in such cases. However, the drawback of these therapies is that they take a longer time for complete cure.
- Energy therapies like meditation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong techniques and positive visualization, deep breathing etc are self help techniques that are known to help cure many types of phobias. Energy psychology aims at altering the Chi or life force energy so that one’s fear of chickens is eliminated completely as if it was never there in the first place.
As can be seen, there are various methods for overcoming one’s fear of chickens. But it is essential to choose the right cure that gives permanent results rather than temporarily masking the symptoms of Alektorophobia.