Agliophobia is the persistent, unwarranted and often irrational fear of pain. It is derived from the Greek word algo which means pain and phobos which means fear or dread. Other names for this phobia include: Odynophobia, Odynephobia or Odynesphobia which are all derived from Greek odyn meaning pain.
The dictionary defines pain as a “highly unpleasant sensation following an illness or injury or mental suffering or distress”. Thus, pain is subjective and what is extremely painful to one might trigger little or no response in another. Therefore, pain is treated as a complicated subject by psychologists and experts in the field of medicine. Pain indicates that something is wrong in the body. But in case of Agliophobia, there is an intense and constant anxiety in the sufferer’s mind about experiencing pain. This tends to aggravate his/her physical/emotional distress and can be highly disruptive in everyday as well as medical settings.
What causes Agliophobia?
Like in all other specific phobias, Agliophobia also originates from an intense traumatic experience in the past as well as intrinsic factors.
For example, highly sensitive people could be more prone to the fear of pain phobia. Even seeing their loved ones suffer can lead to a lifetime of fear of pain. Children who have experienced pain at the dentist’s or doctor’s office will be fearful of experiencing that pain all the time.
As stated above, the condition can be debilitating and disruptive for everyday life as the phobic individual constantly thinks about pain, as a result of which his/her condition turns into a vicious cycle that aggravates their mental/physical distress.
Symptoms of fear of pain phobia
The fear of pain phobia is often mistaken for depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, sleeping disorder, schizophrenia and so on. Depending on the extent to which one suffers, the disruptive phobia can lead to many physical symptoms including:
- Shaking, trembling, sweating
- Crying, screaming
- Experiencing a full blown panic attack
- Rapid and shallow breathing, having an increased heart rate
- Experiencing dizziness, nausea and other gastrointestinal distress
- Inability to express self accurately
Additionally, the fear of pain might make the phobic:
- Avoid new experiences
- Fear going to new/different places
- Avoid going to the doctor/dentist
- Feel detached from reality
- Have fearful thoughts about death or dying
Often, medical and dental pain agliophobics end up aggravating their medical/dental condition as they refrain from seeking help for it. Their fear and paranoia about pain might also make them turn to excessive use of pain relievers which could cause an overdose.
Treatment for Agliophobia
A combination of drugs and behavior therapy has been known to be successful in treating the fear of pain phobia. However, most doctors warn that anxiety medicines give only temporary relief and could lead to side effects or adverse reactions.
Other treatments for Agliophobia should be done under the guidance of an experienced psychiatrist. One such therapy is gradual desensitization therapy. This therapy involves gradually exposing the individual to different levels of pain. This can help him/her understand what pain is and also realize that his fear is irrational. Family members and friends should help and support the phobic. One should keep an eye on the individual to ensure they do not turn to pain relieving medications that could lead to an overdose.
Hypnotherapy and Neurolinguistic programming therapy are also known to benefit people suffering from Agliophobia.
I think I will talk about this to my doctor next visit. The thought of pain is absolutely terrifying, and I can’t even do much without being scared. I’m also on a waitlist for therapy, so when I get a therapist, I’ll tell them too. I really do not want the fear, but I do, and it’s horrible. I can’t even describe the amount of fear I have when it comes to pain – even being pinched stresses me out. I often avoid physical contact, too, mainly because it makes me uncomfortable (not fear, just discomfort) but also because sometimes it hurts, and I don’t like that.
I have recently been diagnosed as suffering from Agliophobia after contracting Bornholm’s disease when I was thirteen years old. I am fifty now, and I am still terrified of experiencing the pain again, either from relaxing my stomach and abdominal muscles or breathing out fully, or from suffering a relapse. Life has been very unpleasant for me, but I am trying to get help. Good luck to any sufferers of this, as it is truly horrible and can impact very negatively on your life.
Haley Ramirez says
I just saw this phobia and I think of it as depression and me being sad, that’s what I thought of this, but it was actually the fear or stomach aches and headaches.
unknown undiagnosed says
I have had multiple incidents in the past which include getting into a motorcycle accident (the skin on my ankle ripped off and it hurt so bad). And also extracting a tooth after the pain, which lasted a week and finally went away (the anesthesia didn’t work but I wanted to stop the pain so I went through with the process. I regret it but at the same time I feel relief). During those incidents I either had a panic attack or screamed, and my legs would begin to tremble after. Thoughts of experiencing it again race through my mind. I don’t want it to ever happen again. I’m scared. As of now, I tend to avoid situations that could possibly lead me to feel the same pain as before. I’d like to get treatment, but even the thought of getting treated scares me. My parents don’t know that I could possibly have Agliophobia, nor would they believe me if I said so. They would think I’m overreacting and such. I’m glad I can express this here, I really wanted to vent it out. I hope I get rid of this fear.
Sarah Beth says
No one should ever be subjected to desensitization therapy as it isn’t therapy it’s psychological abuse and emotional abuse sometimes as well.
Dulling the senses is an unhealthy angle to the more uplifting emotions. No one chooses to be dead inside to get over a fear of undeserved/unnecessary/unwanted pain.
Stay emotionally fragile. Never desensitize your softer character traits.
Jimmy Fertlio says
Thank you it has helped me a lot.
I was carving something a few months back and my knife slipped and cut my palm open and wouldn’t stop bleeding. I remember being hunched over holding my hand in pain and thinking I never want to feel this again. I had to get stitches and for a month after that I avoided hurting that hand. Since then I’ve been noticing I’ve been shaking, sweating, easy to hurt, and having random hot flashes. Earlier today, I cut myself on a broken piece of glass and felt like passing out or throwing up in the bathroom and again thinking I never want to do this again. I don’t know what I have but I have the symptoms of fear of pain more than the fear of blood which I previously thought I had. Any suggestions?
Ive suffered from chronic pain in my cervical spine for 27 years , this came from a rollover car accident I had when I was 23 Im now 62 and I fear pain so much it keeps me confined , my chronic pain is real and doctors refuse to help me or treat me , Im disabled with a degenerative disc disease in my cervical spine so the pain is real. How do i live a life of pain and not want to have some kind of relief of my pain. Ive been abandoned by doctors and family who dont know how to help me. The Fear of Pain is real especially when I can’t sleep at night , I fear sleeping , I fear what the next day holds for me due to chronic pain and Im scared all the time. Can anyone help me.
As someone who researches phobias for character building in my creative writing (mostly fan fictions, not fluff or smut, don’t worry), this really sheds a light on a character people wouldn’t expect to have such a phobia, yet when you look into it, it makes perfect sense. I’m talking about Genji from Overwatch. You wouldn’t expect a cyborg ninja to have agliophobia, but when you listen to his “grunting” voice lines, you can easily hear him in much more pain than everyone else, which can be a little weird. Then, I heard the theory he might be agliophobic. Now that I’ve looked into what agliophobia truly is, it makes so much more sense! Now, I can write for him in more ways than people would think possible!
This makes a lot of sense, and now I believe he’s agliophobic too.
How do you get rid of the fear of bloodtests and shots?
Luna Belle says
Remember that it is only going to hurt for a while and it isn’t going to last forever. You may just have to ‘suck it up’. I like to blast my music and sing along so I think of something else (as much as possible). I hope this helped.
E.M from Sw says
Now that ive read this… Ive understood someone better.. Thankyou
I have had food poisoning twice in my life, and the flu once. I am afraid of needles, murder, spirits, darkness, death, being alone, and everything that has to do with horror. I despise throwing up and I remember once in 5th grade when my stomach hurt and I was having a panic attack because I didn’t want to puke. I go to the nurse more often than I should and my friends worry about me. I’m afraid of leaving home and I always hum creepy songs to myself in a nightcore voice trying to calm myself down. And something that really scares me is when I go to sleep (on the 2nd floor) I am aware of everything and can hear people walking up the stairs and can tell how close away from me, they are. Anybody have any idea if this is just a phobia or worse? At first I thought I had Algophobia.
It’s the same with me. It’s amazing how similar your case is to mine. I am also afraid of oceans, the unknown, failure, heights, and abandonment. To tell the truth it’s weird how fearful I am of everything. But because I don’t want anyone to know, I usually just zone out and pay as little attention as possible to my surroundings to avoid showing fear.
I think in situations like this, you have multiple phobias going on at once. Trypanophobia, the fear of needles and syringes, a fear of darkness, a fear of death, and possibly a fear of the unknown. These phobias tend to tie into each other pretty well, from as far as I can tell. As someone who has trypanophobia myself, I can firmly say that I dread having to get blood drawn, and I am glad my family doesn’t do vaccinations unless absolutely necessary. The only vaccine I’ve ever gotten was for tetanus, and for that, I am pleased.
I thought I had anxiety my whole life. This hits the nail on the head though, but I’m afraid to have this because I don’t like the techniques for complex cases. I was around 37% on the anxiety test, which was pretty close to the average 41% but then it said high scores could be bad too. I’m also very intelligent for my age (19).
Hi. I recognize myself in this text. And I know where my recent strong fear of pain started. I am a person who lives in her safe world, avoiding politics and facing things. I just gave birth to my 2nd child, 45 days ago. The pregnancy was risky, and I spent all my time on the net reading about possible complications. My pregnancy ended with a very difficult and painful labor but the baby and I came back home healthy. My pain didn’t stop there, I first got mastitis, then abscess. Two days ago I had a surgery and today I went to my doctors office for cleaning the wound. I don’t have to tell you that I used the same pattern before the surgery and today as during my pregnancy: reading about terrible experiences other people with this condition had. Today I got a serious critique from my doctor about how I “handled” the pain. I keep on telling him I’m scared and tense. I now feel really weak both physically and even more mentally. My family members support me and help me with post surgery recovery but my mind is full of negative thoughts. I try and try to think about something else but end up in fear so strong that I cry from a very mild pain, or have diarrhea before the appointment with my doctor. And I have to see him at least for the next 2-3 weeks. How can I overcome this? I almost had an overdose of analgesics because I was trying to weaken the pain. At my appointment I took max dosage of analgesic and felt sick after. Can you help me to help myself?