Achondroplasiaphobia is the fear of little people or midgets, although this term is not used anymore, as it is considered offensive to people with dwarfism. It is also called Nanosophobia or Lollypopguildophobia. The word Achondroplasiaphobia is derived from the medical term ‘Achondroplasia’ which is a skeletal disorder of the cartilage that forms during the fetal stage. This condition leads to dwarfism.
The fear of little people can be debilitating as a person might refuse to go to circuses, casinos, fairs or malls where little people are thought to be present, at least in the phobics mind. In one of the more extreme cases, a pregnant woman encountered a frightening dwarf during her pregnancy which led her to believe that her unborn child would be a dwarf too. This led her to have repeat nightmares about it and an eventual miscarriage.
Hollywood actor Lindsay Lohan is believed to suffer from Achondroplasiaphobia.
Causes of Achondroplasiaphobia
- The fear of little people usually originates from a negative traumatic experience with dwarves, in the individual’s childhood. For many children, the fear of little people starts with an encounter with a dwarf janitor/worker at school/daycare who has behaved badly with the child.
- Dwarves also appear abnormal due to their large faces, humpbacks or irregular bodies. The fear of dwarves can thus be evolutionary. Mankind is known to fear anything that is extraordinary or ‘out of the normal bounds’.
- Many adult Achondroplasiaphobic individuals actually believe that dwarves are from ‘other planets’ or have alien origins. The concept of ‘little green men’, a commonly used term for Martians, might also have been derived from little people or used interchangeably with each other.
- Often, Achondroplasiaphobia might be related to other disorders like ADHD, nervous disorder, or anxiety disorders.
- In the popular Disney classic Snow White and Seven Dwarves the dwarves are actually shown to be friendly and positive characters. However, they live in forests and work in mines and this is probably due to the fact that they have been outcast by society. Likewise, other media like movies, books etc about dwarves, especially those showcasing these characters in negative light can lead to Achondroplasiaphobia. The movie, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory has characters called Oompa Loompas who are actually little people with magical abilities who tend to play tricks on naughty children.
Symptoms of fear of little people
There are many physical and psychological symptoms of Achondroplasiaphobia.
- Many phobics tend to run or flee away from little people. They have nightmares about little people and often wake up screaming.
- Other may experience a panic attack that requires taking an anti-anxiety medicine to calm down. This includes symptoms like rapid breathing, dry mouth, shaking, staying rooted to the spot, crying, screaming hysterically etc.
- In some cases, the mere talk or image of a little person can set off a full blown anxiety attack.
- Phobics might go out of their way to avoid places where they are likely to encounter little people.
Like other specific phobias, Achondroplasiaphobia can be debilitating and affect a person’s ability to function normally
- Psychotherapy is one of the most effective ways of treating and overcoming the fear of little people. Talking out about the fear can help one rationalize it.
- Educating oneself about little people is important for adult Achondroplasiaphobic individuals. Dwarves are not always evil or harmful; these are stereotypical notions about them. They simply have a congenital disorder that has led to their condition.
- Family members and friends should not laugh at the phobia; rather they should play a supportive role and encourage the phobic to think positive thoughts when experiencing an anxiety attack.
- Medication and drugs may be taken to calm anxiety symptoms especially in case the phobia is affecting the day-to-day life. But these must not be relied upon as they have side effects.
- Gradual desensitization therapy is another method of overcoming this fear. It includes slowly exposing the phobic to little people in the form of images, movies etc. This can help one gradually accept them and finally be in their presence without experiencing anxiety attack.
These are a few ways of overcoming Achondroplasiaphobia.