Bovinophobia is the excessive (and often irrational) fear of cows or cattle. The word originates from Latin bovi meaning ox or cattle and Greek phobos meaning fear. Its alternative terms are Taurophobia, where tauro is Latin for bull.
People with Bovinophobia cannot stand thinking about or being around cows or cattle. Thankfully, most urban places do not have these animals. Cattle are generally only seen on farms and unlike other phobias, the person suffering from Bovinophobia is not afraid of cows or bulls all of the time. Thus, the phobia should not really interfere with one’s day to day life. However, if a cow or bull is to suddenly spring up on TV or other least expected places, the person might experience a full blown panic attack.
Causes of Bovinophobia
Just like every other zoophobia, the fear of cattle or the fear of cows and bulls usually originates from a traumatic event pertaining to cows. A child might have witnessed a horrific incident related to these animals.
Compared to most animals, cows and bulls are huge creatures and they additionally have fierce horns. In Spain, bull fights are known to kill many people each year. If statistics are to be believed, since 1700, nearly 325 matadors have perished in the arena. The aggressive nature of bulls can be attributed to testosterone. Most prize fighting bulls are left un-castrated and in the mating season they generally get highly irritated at the slightest provocation. This makes them amazing fighters and many people, other than Taourophobic individuals, get a kick out of watching such fights.
In places like India, cows are considered holy and worshipped. They are even allowed to roam free on highways or roads in busy urban areas. Outsiders visiting the country often find this appalling since cows tend to cause traffic jams or accidents. However, being a sacred and worshipped animal, people do not attempt to move these creatures away, instead implement changes to accommodate these animals.
Cows generally live in herds. Charging herds can be dangerous even though these occurrences are rare. Cows are usually harmless creatures known to lead laid back lives on farms, chewing hay all day. However, a person suffering from some anxiety disorders or other phobias might keep thinking of dangers associated with cows in herds, often times blowing the whole thing way out of proportion.
Cows are known to be maternal; they go out of their way to protect their young. If a cow were to feel threatened by a human, especially her calf, she would naturally attack the source of the harm. Having witnessed such an incident could lead one to permanent Bovinophobia.
Symptoms of fear of cows and bulls
Bovinophobia usually manifests itself in the form of several mental and physical symptoms including
- Shaking, shivering, trembling
- Having an increased heart rate
- Feeling nauseated
- Feeling like fleeing or hiding
- Trying to avoid encounter with cows and bulls- this includes refusing to go to farms or all other places where one might encounter a cow.
Treating and overcoming Taurophobia
There are 5 major self help steps to overcoming Bovinophobia.
- Understand that phobias are common. Thousands of people suffer from different types of zoophobias and many among these are Bovinophobes.
- Face your fear of cows by studying the animal’s body language. If you happen to encounter cows or bulls on a daily basis, it is important that you learn to face them. Cows are generally harmless and they will not do anything unless attacked, teased or harmed. Try as far as possible to stay away from cows that have a baby calf with them.
- Avoid cows and bulls that look angry or happen to be growling, snorting, pawing the ground etc.
- Gradually desensitize your fear by first envisioning being near cattle, feeding them etc. Call up a neighboring farm and schedule a visit to see cows and bulls in this habitat. Pat, pet or feed a cow provided the farmer is there with you.
- Spend at least 40 minutes to 1 hour with the cattle to ensure that you have overcome the fear.
If these tactics fail, make sure to see a professional psychotherapist to help you out. These days, many treatments like Cognitive behavior therapy, NLP and Hypnotherapy etc are available to help one get to the bottom of their Bovinophobia (or Taurophobia) and relieve its anxiety once and for all.