Pyrophobia is quite a common phobia and many people around the globe are known to be deeply afraid of fire. The word Pyrophobia originates from Greek ‘pur/pyr’ meaning fire and ‘phobos’ meaning fear or deep dread. To an extent, the fear of fire is healthy, evolutionary and normal. However, in case of a phobic, the fear turns debilitating, often affecting his/her daily life wherein one is unable to withstand even small or controlled fires.
To a Pyrophobic individual, the mere smell of smoke or something burning can trigger an intense anxiety attack. This causes him/her to constantly check the stove/gas leading to obsessive compulsive personality disorders.
Causes of fear of fire phobia
It is easy to understand where the fear of fire originates from.
Since ancient times, mankind has depended on fire but has also been burnt by it. Fire can cook food but it is known to cause large scale destruction. Since childhood, we are warned by parents and caregivers to stay away from fire.
House fires, though rare today, can still cause massive destruction to life and property. Man has been able to control them to an extent, by using sophisticated fire alarms and smoke detectors. But despite these things, dangerous blazes do occur even in the most advanced countries from time to time.
One such negative or traumatic experience with fire in the past (direct or indirect) is the most likely cause of Pyrophobia. Some phobics do not even remember how their fear originated in the first place. Psychoanalysis or hypnotherapy is required in such cases to delve deep into the phobic’s mind and establish the root cause of the phobia.
Symptoms of Pyrophobia
Like all other phobias, Pyrophobia is also characterized by anxiety and panic attacks when the individual is faced with a situation involving fire. S/he tends to have an extremely negative outlook towards all events that are likely to trigger fire hazards.
Physically and psychologically, the following symptoms might be present:
- Dry mouth, difficulty in swallowing, trembling, palpitations and shaking in the vicinity of fires.
- Some individuals cannot even stand small fires like birthday candles, fireworks etc.
- Thoughts of death or dying, feeling like choking.
- Going to abnormal lengths to prevent dangers from fires: Checking and rechecking several times a day to ensure the gas/stove is off, keeping an escape route ready in event fire does occur or spending huge amounts of money on fire extinguishers, smoke alarms etc are some examples of such behavior.
- Those with extreme levels of Pyrophobia experience a full blown panic attack at the sight, smell, or thought of fire: running away, fainting, screaming, feeling nauseated etc.
Such emotional turmoil caused by the phobia can deeply affect one’s normal functioning.
Overcoming and treating Pyrophobia
The first step in treating fear of fire phobia is to diagnose it. Often, the phobic is able to assess if his/her symptoms are affecting the normal ability to function. If this is the case, s/he should not hesitate in approaching a primary health care provider to discuss further treatment. When the phobia symptoms are extreme, medication must be taken to counter the anxiety symptoms.
Additionally, one must also utilize a few self help techniques to overcome the fear of fires phobia. Gradual desensitization or exposure therapy can be done with the help of family and friends or even a professional therapist. This involves looking at pictures of fires, thinking of fire and gradually progressing to being in the presence of small or controlled fire. An exposure of this sort can help the Pyrophobic control the anxiety response to fires.
The purpose of all these therapies is to get to the root cause of one’s Pyrophobia in order to help the individual regain confidence and etch out negative memories once and for all.
I just don’t do well with lighting matches but I can be in the presence of controlled fires and smoke doesn’t make me anxious.
I can handle candles, but say a fireplace/campfire, I have to watch it or I’ll freak out. And, who other pyrophobics stay up late at night because you’re scared a fire will burn down your house? I live in an old house and some of the outlets spark. I only have one three pronged plug, and only 6 out of 18 outlets don’t spark. I hate our heat source. It’s the type with fire and I get worried with it. Do I sound crazy?
I have pyrophobia and now it’s getting worse. I was able to conquer the fear and getting close to fire, like cooking on campfire. But I got burned real bad on both my feet 2 months ago because of the forest fire in my hometown. I was stepping on the ground without knowing there was fire burning under. The ground collapsed and both my feet stuck down the fiery embers, got 2nd degree burns. I’m still in my recovery and still can’t walk properly. Now every time I see fire my body is trembling so hard, having a hard time to breathe, and my body goes limp. Now I prefer to buy food instead of cooking it myself.
Mranda lambert says
Hope you feel better
Mrs. Willis says
Jesus can help you with your fear. My grandmother died in an apartment fire when I was a kid and I developed pyrophobia. I was constantly rechecking the stove to make sure it was off, I hated lit candles, I was afraid of heaters and everything. When I gave my life to Jesus Christ, my fear of fire slowly went away. Imagine burning for eternity because of our sins, now that is scary. Faith in Jesus’ death on the cross, His bodily burial and His bodily resurrection saves us from Hell fire. Jesus died for our sins! Hallelujah. You have nothing to fear if your faith is in Jesus!
I live in the Balearic Islands, and we have a lot of holidays based on Saints and the Devil, and there are A LOT of festivals where 200 people dressed as frightening devils and demons run and dance with torches, light up bonfires and scare people with firecrackers and sticks that are on fire. You can google images of it if you search “Correfoc” or “dimonis Mallorca”. In fact there are a lot of traditions involving fire around here. I’m actually only scared of those rituals and people “threatening” me with fire, although I know it is only a show. I can handle other fires pretty well.
I have a fear of fire not pyrophobia. I can stand candles, stoves, and even campfires but Im generally stressed out about large fires. Especially fires for the purpose of entertainment.
That would be fear of bonfires.
Sarah Barker says
I have a phobia of burnt food and raw meat and claustrophobia
Brandon Keele says
yep same im doing a report on this heheheheh :)
Yep same here
I am doing a report on pyrophobia at my school.
I am super terrified of fires. I don’t know what happened and why, it’s just like it happened. Now I can only have one thing plugged in an an outlet, I’m constantly afraid to have stuff plugged in, I am always checking outlets and the stove. I cannot relax because i am always checking and terrified. And when i see smoke even from a candle or insent my heart feels like it jumps out of my chest and I can’t breath. My heart races a lot when I am near a controlled fire. Say my mom cooking. Also my house is barely lit because i am afraid of plugging lamps in. I live In an apartment that has light fixtures. In some rooms not all. I only use the light fixtures. I need help but I don’t want to sound crazy :/
Y’all really are mean but them pictures gone make me have a phobia
Les Voss says
I am so sorry to hear of your growing fear. I don’t think concern over being crazy matters as much as what you are doing about this. There are a couple of paths; CBT is useful as it uses the power of your mind to overcome irrational fears. For example, avoiding unsafe electrical connections, unattended stoves, or barbecues is rational, but does it make sense to be this concerned? Dispute/argue with your thoughts that lead you to these exaggerated results. If it doesn’t make sense, dispute it every time it starts. Make notes. What activating event started your upset? Write it. What did you believe about that event that made fear come? Write it. Is that belief reasonable? It’s okay to ask others what they may think in such a situation. Don’t share that you’re upset. Just hear their thoughts. If it makes sense, start believing their thoughts. Write out this rational argument. Next time the activating event happens, grab your notes! Dispute your inside beliefs! Once you do this ten to 15 times, you will recognize the activating event, understand your beliefs, and the resulting fear response will likely diminish. Please write it down. Your mind is powerful.
This works on its own. I’ve done it multiple times. A note above mentions Jesus. I’d not wrap my fear of eternal fire with this fear! You don’t need BONUS fear! However, Jesus loves you and wants your peace. Praying to him for help will lower your upset and help you find this solution path more quickly! Learn how to manage irrational beliefs, which will help you in many life situations less obvious than fear of fire—but equally as debilitating. By learning this process, you will have more joy in your life.
I’m scared of fire. It’s really difficult because I’m at school so the Bunsen Burners in Chemistry make me panic. Even smoke from previous lessons and fire drills unnerve me.
I know, my science teacher kept me in for a whole lunch break trying to get me to light a match. It was awful. And when ever we use Bunsen Burners in class I make a friend light it for me and I don’t really function, I just stand there watching it and panicking when ever the smallest change happens…
This was VERY helpful for my in-school project! Thanks a million!
I’m doing a report, this is helpful.
what kind of report.
School report lol