Entamaphobia or the fear of doors is a debilitating phobia often associated with Agoraphobia and Claustrophobia. The word Entamaphobia is derived from a combination of Greek words ‘Eisodos and portos’ for entrance or entryway and ‘phobos’ which is the Greek God of fear.
In a way, Entamaphobia is very similar to Agoraphobia or the fear of open doors. In Entamaphobia however, most people are afraid of all kinds of doors irrespective of whether they are closed or open. In Agoraphobic individuals, on the other hand, there is generally a tendency to avoid walking out of open doors towards the outside world. In sufferers with the general fear of doors, there may be the general tendency of being afraid of the insecurity or fear of the unknown that lies outside. The fear of doors is also linked with Claustrophobia- the fear of cramped spaces-where the victims feel that closed doors might cramp up or suffocate him/her. Celebrity and popular Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey is known to be afraid of revolving doors.
Causes of Entamaphobia
As in case of most phobias, Entamaphobia also has its roots in one’s past. A person might have had a negative experience related to a door as a child. In one case, for example, the sufferer describes the fear he felt when he was alone at home, watching a creepy show on TV when the door which had been slightly left ajar started slowly creaking open, giving the sufferer a nasty feeling of “someone watching him”.
A child growing up with a strong sense of dependency, particularly to one’s mother, could also develop Entamaphobia. Going out of a door alone might be a haunting experience for the child. Also, children who are born hesitant or timorous could also develop the fear of open doors.
A traumatic or negative experience in childhood-violence, abuse etc or even the death of a loved one can also trigger the fear of doors. The fear of walking through revolving doors could arise from the embarrassment, or the fear that one might fall, trip and embarras or hurt oneself.
Phobias, in general stem from various occurrences as well as deficiencies or even genetic traits. A nervous minded person could develop the phobia suddenly particularly if s/he is also already suffering from other common anxiety disorders.
Symptoms of fear of doors
As is the case with most phobias, Entamaphobia is also known to give rise to various symptoms, both physical and emotional. These include:
- Crying, shaking, or getting hysterical at the thought of doors or simply at their sight or the idea of walking through one.
- Some phobics will first peek outside to check if there are any dangers outside the doors. This becomes a habit that often calls for ridicule from friends/family. The phobic might even go to great lengths to lock the door properly. S/he might install several locks on all doors.
- Shivering, sweating excessively, trembling, running away from doors or getting fearful or negative thoughts of death are some other symptoms associated with this phobia.
- Dizziness, gastrointestinal distress, headache, nausea or other physical symptoms like racing heart, shallow breath are also typical in the phobia.
- Many victims of Entamaphobia describe feeling suffocated or as if “they might die of heart failure”.
The panic attacks often get so severe that the phobic’s day to day existence could become difficult. S/he tends to give up jobs, or going out for shopping and other errands. Relationships also get strained as the phobic is often ridiculed for such behavior.
Treating the phobia of doors
Neurolinguistic programming/NLP and cognitive behavior therapies are some of the well known treatments for Entamaphobia. Both these treatments get to the root cause of the fear and find out the specific patterns that trigger the sufferer’s panic attacks. The therapists can then help the phobic replace his/her negative associations of doors with positive ones. Hypnotherapy is another well known treatment option for this phobia which can help change the construct of the phobic’s mind to help him/her deal with the anxiety that triggers the fear of doors. Gradual desensitization therapy could also help in many cases; here the phobics learn to gradually expose themselves to doors-both open and shut- until they are able to deal with their Entamaphobia in their daily lives.