Epiplaphobia as the name indicates is the extreme, irrational and often unwarranted fear of furniture. Some people might be afraid only of certain types of furniture; still others are specifically afraid only of antiques. One of the most famous celebrities having the extreme fear of antique furniture is Billy Bob Thornton, who, reportedly, is also afraid of silver. However, in an interview, Billy claimed that his furniture phobia is greatly exaggerated since he can easily withstand chairs and tables and is only afraid of antiques with carved lion/tiger heads or old drapes or French/English furniture with mildew. Basically, says the actor, he cannot stand “the stuff kings were around”. As a result of this phobia, he is known to refuse housing up in residences or hotels having stuff from before 1950.
Most phobics who suffer from a severe fear of furniture cannot withstand very high or tall furniture items. In such cases, their Epiplaphobia could be closely linked to Batophobia (the fear of very tall objects) which, in turn, may be linked to Acrophobia (the fear of heights). Some phobics are also unable to stand looking at ladders, or might refuse bringing down objects placed high up on shelves. Still others might refuse a trip to the grocery stores as they have row after row of tall shelves with items stacked high above. This fear generally stems from the fear of looking up. All said and done, the fear of furniture is one of the rarest phobias around the world.
Causes of Epiplaphobia
There are no fixed reasons why the fear of furniture might occur. In general, children might suffer from it owing to genetic or environmental reasons. A close relative suffering from anxiety disorders could pass on the condition to the child. A negative or traumatic event related to furniture may also lead to lifelong fear of furniture. A child, for example, who has been abused or confined or tied up to furniture for long periods of time is more likely to suffer from extreme phobia.
Adults with ongoing health or mental conditions might also develop a sudden fear of chairs or tables. Traumatic brain injuries are also known to cause such irrational fears in patients.
Fear is a natural reaction- our mind and body’s response to protect us. It is preprogrammed in our nervous system and cautions us to be careful. Fear can sometimes be triggered due to startling or a loud noise. A chair or table crashing during a storm, an abusive parent throwing or hurling chair/furniture at a child etc are some examples of scenarios that could trigger this fear of furniture phobia. Antique furniture, as in Billy Bob Thornton’s case, has terrifying faces and carvings that might seem, to a child, rather scary.
Symptoms of fear of furniture phobia
Like other common specific and social phobias, the fear of furniture phobia is also known to produce physical and emotional symptoms:
- Racing or pounding heart
- Shortness of breath
- Sweaty palms
- Trembling, shivering, shaking
- Having elevated blood pressure, tightness of chest.
- Feeling nauseated or experiencing gastric distress.
- The person might try to run or flee at the sight of antiques or certain types of furniture.
- Constant movie like stills might play in the phobic’s mind, where s/he experiences thoughts of death or dying. This might render him/her speechless or unable to formulate thoughts.
Today, there are several treatment options for overcoming all kinds of phobias including the fear of furniture phobia. In most cases, people do not need treatment since their phobia does not affect or interfere with their daily lives. If it does, then one should not hesitate to seek treatment.
Psychiatrists or psychologists usually recommend talk therapy, medicines or combination of both to treat Furniturephobia. Medicines like anti depressants, beta blockers etc generally tend to have several side effects and should only be used as last resort. Desensitization therapy is an effective technique that helps patients alter their response to the object of their fear, in this case, chairs or antique furniture. It is important that patients are exposed gradually to their fears and progressively move on to the next steps of dealing with it.
Cognitive behavior therapy is another way of dealing with the fear of furniture phobia. In this, the sufferers learn different ways of perceiving the root of their fears and also ways of conditioning and altering their response to it. These are some effective ways of dealing with severe Furniturephobia.