The mind is a complex thing; man is yet to fully grasp its intricacies. There are many strange and weird sounding phobias in the world and some of them really do exist. Have you heard of Lunaphobia – the fear of being touched by moonlight, of Pupaphobia – the extreme fear of puppets or Biniphobia – the fear of twins? Similarly, a fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth exists and it is known as Arachibutyrophobia. In this guide, we will study everything you need to know about this complex and strange fear.
What is Arachibutyrophobia?
The word Arachibutryrophobia is a combination of the Polish word for groundnuts-arachidowe, and Greek words for butter-voutyro and phobos/fovos for fear or aversion. Thus, the term Arachibutyrophobia stands for fear of peanut butter. In broader context, this fear can be related to the fear of choking or the fear of food sticking to the roof of one’s mouth. Some say that the fear was fictionally or humorously invented by cartoonist Charles M Schulz in his comic strip Peanuts. However, this phobia does exist and there are people who suffer from it.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches – An American Staple
Peanut butter and jelly (PB&J) sandwiches became famous during the Second World War when soldiers were given this meal for complete nutrition. Today, this food has become a standard American classic; millions of school kids in the country carry PB&J sandwiches for lunch. It is estimated that an average American school-going kid eats about 1500 PB&J sandwiches by the time s/he graduates. The best part is that this American staple can be eaten at any time of the day or night; the rich creamy or chunky peanut butter provides tons of nutrition while the jelly imparts taste. There are many variations to this food-some people even love chopped bananas in this combo.
What Causes Fear of Peanut Butter Sticking to The Roof of the Mouth?
Doctors do not know what exactly causes a phobia- it is just that what many of us take for granted, the phobic cannot imagine doing. Many psychiatrists now believe that like many fears, the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth may be learned over time. In the phobic’s mind, there is a constant connection of eating peanut butter and the feeling of fear, anxiety, tension etc. This might come from conditioning by association. S/he may have, at some point, choked on peanut butter or could have seen someone choke on it. Peanut butter is sticky and it gets difficult to remove it from the mouth. This can sometimes lead to nausea or vomiting. Such an experience can lead to permanent fear of eating peanut butter. Traumatic events in one’s childhood could also be linked to this fear.
Symptoms of Arachibutyrophobia
- Trembling hands or speech
- Shortness of breath and tightness in chest
- Becoming dizzy of lightheaded
- Sinking feeling in stomach
- Weak/rubbery knees
- Blurred vision
One may even experience the following psychological symptoms:
- Unable to think clearly
- A feeling of being paralyzed
- Catastrophic thoughts like ‘I will choke to death, I am going to throw up, I am going to embarrass or fool myself or I am going to die’.
These symptoms can permanently turn the person off peanut butter. Needless to say, not everyone will understand him/her and this could make them an object of ridicule.
Treatment of Arachibutyrophobia
Cognitive behavior therapy is the most common treatment for this phobia- it helps the phobic identify real and unreal thought patterns. Patients can also seek exposure therapy which teaches gradual desensitization to the feared stimuli-in this case eating peanut butter. One can also try stress management techniques that include positive visualization, meditation and relaxation.
Group therapy is another great option for getting over the fear of peanut butter- a group will make one feel less isolated and offers support and coping techniques. It is also a place to learn and practice social skills.
Other therapies for Arachibutyrophobia include NLP or neuro-linguistic programming, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, yoga and meditation, herbal supplements and bodywork or massage therapy.
A wide range of medication is also available for extreme cases including SSRI (selective serotonin uptake inhibitors) and tranquilizers. However, they must be used as a last resort owing to side effects.
A multi-disciplinary approach is most effective in phobia cases-the individual can enter psychotherapy, join an exercise program, enroll in a support group, and limit caffeine intake. In the end, it is up to the individual to make significant life changes to help facilitate a cure.