The word Allodoxaphobia can be considered a derivative of Doxaphobia though both words have contradictory meanings. Where doxaphobia stands for the fear of expressing opinions, Allodoxaphobia is the fear of hearing other people’s opinions. The word Allodoxaphobia comes from Greek ‘allo’ meaning different, ‘dox’ meaning opinion and ‘phobos’ which comes from the Greek God of fear.
People with fear of opinions phobia live in constant fear and anxiety of hearing people’s opinions about them. They often realize that their phobia is unfounded and irrational, yet they are unable to overcome it. As a result, they place many restrictions upon themselves. The fear of opinions phobia might strike at any age: not only adults, even young kids can be afraid of being on the receiving end of people’s opinions. As the fear becomes deeply imbibed in their consciousness, they tend to stop answering questions or participating in any activities as they are afraid of people’s judgment. Allodoxaphobia falls under the category rare and unusual social phobias. This phobia can isolate the sufferer greatly and can especially hamper one’s professional life.
Causes of Allodoxaphobia
While there are many Americans who fear not being able to voice their opinion, a small portion of the population just does not want to listen to other people’s opinions. The trigger for the opinion phobia is usually same as the triggers of other social phobias: negative or traumatic episodes in the past. Caregivers, teachers or parents are often responsible for triggering the phobia in a growing child. Words of caution or criticism constantly meted out to a child might lead to regular suppression. An abused or traumatized child is also more likely to develop Allodoxaphobia.
Usually, passive or sensitive people who fear criticism and reprisals are most likely to suffer from Allodoxaphobia. They might have experienced criticism in school or at work that causes a response triggered by the amygdala (a part of the brain). The mind then triggers the same response over and over when it deals with a similar stressful situation. It does this so as to protect the individual, who then, to prevent the response, tries to avoid hearing opinions about him.
Media can also trigger the fear of opinions phobia. Having access to materials in print, graphics on TV or social media etc can cause extreme panic in some anxious individuals.
Some other (intrinsic) causes of Allodoxaphobia include hereditary factors or genetic causes.
Symptoms of fear of opinions phobia
An Allodoxaphobic individual suffers from many symptoms, both physical and emotional. These folks are simply afraid of listening to feedback of any kind. It literally causes a full blown panic attack that includes:
- Sweaty palms
- Accelerated heart rate, rapid and shallow breathing
- Feeling sick, nauseated
- Feeling angry when an opinion is expressed-no matter good or bad
- Flight or fight response- trying to avoid all situations where an opinion might be expressed.
- Insecurity, lack of self esteem
Naturally, such people might become socially withdrawn, might be even depressed to an extent. They might avoid situations at work and in general miss out on many opportunities and promotions.
Overcoming and treating the fear of opinions
Once the root cause of Allodoxaphobia is known, a therapist can help the individual have a more controlled response to the triggering factors. This is usually done through therapies like talk therapy, Psychotherapeutic counseling, group therapy, systematic desensitization, hypnotherapy etc.
However, the hardest part of overcoming Allodoxaphobia is that the person might refuse to seek therapy in the first place. Family members play a crucial role in getting him/her to agree to it. The phobic should be encouraged to express his/her opinions while loved ones must exercise caution and express their opinions very gently. Small exercises may be undertaken to ensure that the person is able to handle opinions in small doses gradually increasing their onslaught until the person is ready and confident enough to handle them without having panic attacks.
Treatment for Allodoxaphobia often tends to be a long one. The sufferer and his/her family members must show high level of patience and remain hopeful throughout the duration of treatment. Therapies like meditation, Yoga and other alternative mind-body therapies must be included alongside conventional treatment to completely overcome the fear of opinions phobia once and for all.