Papyrophobia is the extreme, unwarranted and irrational fear of paper. The word Papyrophobia is derived from Greek or Egyptian papyro or Papyrus meaning paper and phobos meaning deep dread or aversion.
The fear of paper generally includes the fear of touching paper, writing on it, or simply getting cut by it. Some extreme cases of Papyrophobia often have the sufferer experiencing a full blown panic attack at the mere thought of paper which could range from a clean sheet of paper to even a crumpled ball of paper or wall paper or even gift wrapping paper. The phobia of paper is quite rare with just a handful of people around the world suffering from it. Sometimes, the intensity of the fear increases based upon the type or size of paper.
Let us study this phobia in detail.
Causes of Papyrophobia
Some experts believe that the phobia could exist simply due to the existence of paper or, in general, simply because of the fear of writing or printing things on paper.
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A child having cut its finger accidentally on paper could also start fearing all kinds of paper permanently. In most cases though, a highly traumatic episode might lead to the phobia which causes the child’s brain to go into a fight or flight response. In several cases, psychologists are simply unable to pinpoint the exact cause of this relatively rare phobia. Often; genetics, heredity or certain deficiencies could all be responsible for triggering extreme paper phobia. Existence of other anxiety disorders or health conditions can sometimes cause Papyrophobia.
Symptoms of fear of paper
Though extremely rare, Papyrophobia is a very real phobia and the person experiencing it also undergoes various physical, emotional and mental symptoms which are similar to other phobias. These include:
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- Shaking, shivering, and trembling at the mere sight or thought of paper. They also experience rapid or shallower breathing, increased heart rate and dry mouth. Some may be unable to articulate or form sentences.
- Full blown panic attack including the urge to flee, crying, screaming is also common in Papyrophobic individuals.
- The sufferers often believe that something really bad might happen to them when they come in contact with paper. Movie-like stills or constant thoughts play in their minds with images of death, dying etc.
- The symptoms of Papyrophobia differ from person to person depending on the extent of the phobia. Some tend to become nauseous or perspire at the sight or touch of paper- still others may experience crippling nervousness that could cause them to embarrass themselves in public.
In very extreme cases, the phobic’s relationships might be affected, as often s/he is ridiculed or laughed at by others. Handling a job or going about day to day affairs involving paper could also become difficult to an extent that s/he is forced to quit.
Treating the phobia of paper
Like other phobias, the best bet to treat Papyrophobia is to first confront the fear. One must also talk about it with loved ones and get them to understand what they feel. If this is not enough, one must go in for psychiatric counseling. Talk therapy through group counseling sessions can also help.
Today, there are several techniques for treating phobias and some the most effectives ones are Cognitive behavior therapy, neuro linguistic reprogramming, as well as Hypnotherapy. All these can help get to the root of the phobia to treat and cure it once and for all.
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Another method for treating the fear of paper is gradual or systematic desensitization. In this therapy, the phobic gradually exposes him/herself to the object of his dread, in this case, paper. S/he can start by looking at paper, then progress on to touching or writing on it. This treatment is usually done under the care and guidance of an expert therapist. Through this technique, the phobic learns to control his anxiety response gradually until s/he overcomes Papyrophobia once and for all.