Scriptophobia is the extreme fear of writing in public. The word Scriptophobia is derived from the Latin word script meaning writing and phobos which is the Greek word for fear or dread. Graphophobia is very similar to Scriptophobia but it is more specific in that; it is related to the extreme and often irrational fear of handwriting.
Both Scriptophobia and Graphophobia are very common fears affecting hundreds of people around the world. In some cases, the phobia can affect the sufferer’s day to day life. Many are unable to take on jobs that require writing. The fear is especially debilitating in case of students who are unable to progress in school. Many tend to give up education because of this fear.
Causes of Graphophobia
The fear of writing usually originates from a negative experience in one’s past. Apart from technicalities, many Scriptophobes are also afraid of fear of rejection, fear of ridicule or the fear of embarrassing themselves or fear of being criticized etc. A student might have been rebuked or laughed at owing to something s/he has written or even for their handwriting. This episode can trigger panic attacks each time one has to write in class. This deeply conditioned response can create negative thinking patterns which are hard to change or overcome. Other issues like deep rooted lack of self esteem or the fear of persecution can also cause the fear of writing phobia.
Fear of excess success can also cause a fear of writing. This may be strange to believe, but the person who suffers from it actually develops a strange complex that makes him feel afraid of writing down his personal thoughts.
Fear of exposure can also lead to Graphophobia- it makes the writer feel vulnerable that s/he is exposing the innermost thoughts or that their writing could lead to devastating outcomes.
Writing one’s ideas and thoughts is usually therapeutic for some yet at the same time; a person could feel that if someone reads those thoughts it would violate their privacy. Words can also trigger anger, sadness or evoke other emotional responses. Someone’s private matters becoming public knowledge can therefore lead to a paranoia which is akin to being naked in public.
News reports such as writers having written an explosive column and being persecuted (in communist countries etc) or even touch trigger bombs that explode due to touching writing devices can all lead to fear of writing. The latter is an extreme and exceptional case, and a majority of the cases of Scriptophobia usually stem from other causes explained above.
Symptoms of Scriptophobia
Depending on the extent of one’s fear of writing phobia, the patient can suffer from various physical and emotional symptoms.
- Some Graphophobes are extremely guarded about their writing. They might write only at night to avoid being seen by others. They will be particular about where and what they write.
- In other extreme cases, just the thought of having to write something can lead one to have a dry mouth, elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, nausea, etc.
- Students might experience debilitating symptoms due to this fear such as the inability to write in school or finish projects owing to the fear of embarrassment. They might try to avoid writing at all costs. Many tend to miss school frequently complaining about stomach ache or other disorders-anything which will let them stay at home.
Parents often tend to be strict with the kids suffering from Scriptophobia. This causes the child to feel isolated, depressed and anxious all the time. Many kids also develop other fears like that of sleeping alone or might experience bed wetting due to this fear of writing. Others tend to be lonely or some even have imaginary friends. Therapy is of utmost importance in treating this phobia in younger patients.
Overcoming the fear of writing
As stated above, children with Scriptophobia need to be treated with TLC and if needed, a therapist or school counselor must be consulted. It is important to get to the bottom of the fear through hypnotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy and other desensitization techniques.
Adult Scriptophobes must first learn to accept their fears. This will get them in a better position to overcome it. Phobics can also try making themselves more comfortable while writing-some soothing music, nice bright lights, or writing near an open window sometimes can create a an ambience that is conducive to writing.
These days, there are many different devices available for writing. You can type on a typewriter or a computer instead of traditional pen and paper. You can also read more to get inspired-these small things can help you overcome your fear of writing. Write whatever comes to mind even if it is gibberish. The important step is to start and take the first step and continue until you reach the end. You could imagine enjoying yourself while writing and focus on the goal or the end objective of why you are writing in the first place.
If writing down thoughts is hard, you can try and record them on a voice recorder, create a brief written outline and later fill in the gaps. Finally, Scriptophobia or Graphophobia can be overcome by practicing writing daily. One can start a daily blog or keep a journal-the key is to write something every day. These are good practices to get people to accept what you write and slowly overcome your fear of writing once and for all.