This is a condition in which a patient is afraid of people, either absolutely everyone or people of a certain category.
One of the more unusual phobic disorders in psychiatry is anthropophobia. In most cases, the phobia refers to anyone who passes by, regardless of their appearance, gender, social status, or age.
Anthropophobia should not be confused with a similar social phobia: a fear of society, they are afraid of groups of people, and instead anthropophobes are negatively related to a single individual.
Anthropophobia can be suffered equally by both men and women. Most often, the pathology is found in adolescents, this age is considered to be the most phobically vulnerable.
In most cases, parents notice that their child withdraws and becomes depressed in case someone approaches him, and also somehow violates his personal space.
The patient prefers solitude and does not hide it, in any contact with other people he expresses all the signs of discomfort.
Causes of anthropophobia
Anthropophobia is considered a specific phobia because it is an overwhelming and irrational fear of something that does not normally pose a real danger to other people, but still manages to provoke anxiety and avoidance behaviors in people with this condition.
Anthropophobia, like other specific phobias, is long-lasting and can negatively affect your ability to carry out everyday activities, such as work, education, and social relationships. The exact cause of anthropophobia is not well understood. But experts say that some possibilities include:
- Negative past experiences with men, such as rape, physical assault, mental or physical abuse, neglect, or sexual harassment.
- Genetics and your environment, which can include learned behavior.
- Changes in how the brain works.
Some people are more at risk of anthropophobia than others. Those most at risk include:
- In children, most phobias, including androphobia, occur in early childhood, usually by age 10.
- Relatives who have had phobias or anxiety, this can be the result of inherited or learned behavior.
- Possessing a sensitive, inhibited or negative temperament or personality.
- A negative experience in the past.
- Hearing secondhand about a negative experience with men from a friend, family member, or even a stranger.
Psychologists cannot yet give an intelligible answer to the question of the causes of the development of anthropophobia.
All explanations offered by specialists are in the form of theories, according to which reason lies deep enough in the subconscious, and is supposedly born there in early childhood.
There can be many options for the development of anthropophobia.
This may be the result of a strong child insult, acts of violence against the child, severe fright or other shocks, which are acutely perceived by the psyche of the vulnerable child.
As a result, the child begins to behave in isolation, and this behavior with age only worsens, acquiring this state as a character trait.
An adult who has grown up unable to trust other people finds it much more comfortable for him to spend time alone, is indecisive, and always tries to keep a safe distance from people for the supposed safety of himself.
Despite the fact that anthropophobia, in the opinion of knowledgeable people, is born at an early age, clinically it can manifest itself much later.
And there are factors that can contribute to this:
- A powerful load of stress .
- Chronic fatigue.
- A depressive state.
- Presence of nervous breakdowns such as when a person witnesses a crime or he himself is attacked.
The inhabitants of large cities are especially susceptible to the development of anthropophobia.
The psyche of the individual is subjected to a lot of stress on a daily basis: it is the urban bustle, the noise, the constant crowds of people and the practical impossibility of creating a quality personal space.
It is believed that a disturbance of the psyche such as anthropophobia, first of all, affects patients who previously had low self-esteem.
These people often received a flurry of criticism from others such as their bosses or other people who represent an authority to them, people who have always pressured and forced them to make unconventional decisions, or have deprived them of their own opinions.
Due to low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence, the anthropophobic becomes a hostage to his own sensations and is constantly in tension, unconsciously looking for moments that free him from a new wave of discomfort.
Sometimes anthropophobia develops due to other disorders of the psyche. For example, a person might be afraid of publicity or fear being laughed at in some situation.
These people have a large number of complexes that relate not only to their abilities, but also to external characteristics.
Symptoms of anthropophobia
Anthropophobia is not always the same, because the degree of mental disorder in different people is also usually different.
However, there are some common signs of the disease, so it can be recognized:
- Fear that occurs before anyone, this can manifest itself in the form of dislike for people: while the patient irritates any tactile touch, looks and phrases in their direction.
- A special sense of fear of strangers, with a complete rejection of communication with them.
- The unacceptability of certain characteristics of the individual or their appearance as a phobia can manifest itself only in relation to bald, fat or drunk people, or people with a dark eye color, beard, among others.
When communication is forced with unpleasant people for sick individuals, they develop a panic attack and the first signs may be the following:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased sweating
- Presence of dyspnea.
- Trembling of fingers or hands.
- Abdominal pain, upset stomach.
The patient usually feels the start of an attack and can take steps to prevent it.
Such measures are often seen as compulsive signs:
- Caressing yourself.
- Drum with your fingers and make noises.
- Change from one foot to the other, impatiently.
Anthropophobia can take place in a mild form, when it is enough for a patient to make some volitional efforts to overcome the feeling of fear.
In such a situation, the patient, although uncomfortable, still, as necessary, communicates with other people and does not avoid society.
However, in a progressive stage, controlling emotions and behavior becomes more difficult.
The patient over time can generally reject any communication with strangers.
If suddenly there is accidental contact, this can lead to a bout of irritability, aggression, excessive sweating, tremors, and rapid heartbeat.
In serious situations, the patient leads an airtight lifestyle, allowing almost no one, even those who openly want to help him.
Anthropophobia can take the form of:
- Monophobia: occurs when there is an object that causes a panic attack.
- Polyphobia: occurs when there are many objects that cause an attack.
Also, the phobia can be direct, fear of people in general and the so-called phobia of consequences, fear of any negative consequences after communicating with people.
Regarding the phobia of consequences, the patient may fear being ridiculed or saying something out of place.
Complications and consequences
Anthropophobia is a dangerous disorder because it completely limits the patient in terms of his participation in the environment as well as his social development.
Anthropophobia always has problems with work, with studies, with the establishment of personal relationships, among others.
A severe anthropophobia often represents that when they communicate with other people, something hopelessly bad can happen.
From any difficult situation, all attempts to offer help to the patient continue to be rejected, worsening his health.
In some cases, an attack of anthropophobia can lead the patient to a state of aggression, this can be dangerous, both for the people around him and for the patient himself.
Diagnosis of anthropophobia
To establish the diagnosis of anthropophobia, only a competent and experienced specialist is able to take into account certain characteristics and criteria of the disease.
If a person avoids communication, this does not always mean that he or she suffers from anthropophobia.
Sometimes the propensity for loneliness becomes a manifestation of seasonal depression or is a temporary sign of a difficult period in an individual’s life.
For the correct diagnosis, the doctor communicates not only with the patient, but also with his environment – close friends and family.
The specialist must know not only the behavior of the patient in the office, but also the conditions at home, study or work. Instrumental diagnostics will help determine the degree of panic in an uncomfortable situation.
For example, an EKG can detect an increase in heart rate. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging will make it possible to assess the state of the cerebral vessels.
The main diagnostic method for determining anthropophobia is direct examination by a psychiatrist.
The differential diagnosis is usually made with other anxiety and phobic disorders, for example, with social phobia, with generalized anxiety disorder, with panic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, that is, with pathologies in which reactions similar to certain objects or situations.
With this in mind, the doctor should have the opportunity to qualitatively assess the patient’s condition and develop a plan for his treatment.
The patient is advised to practice abdominal breathing during an attack. The exhale should be twice as long as the inhale.
The patient is recommended to take a contrast shower, massage the ears, fingers and toes, to relax.
You can take medications such as valerian drops, tincture of motherwort or pion, valocordin.
The doctor may prescribe tranquilizers such as fenazepam or diazepam, nootropic drugs such as mexidol and glycide, and antidepressants such as fluoxetine and pyrazidol.
The dosage of such drugs is prescribed individually for each patient by the attending physician.
In addition, a patient with anthropophobia is recommended to follow a diet free of alcohol, stimulating drinks such as strong coffee or tea, chocolate and spicy spices.
Yoga and respiratory gymnastics are considered very useful. And additionally other types of therapies can be performed such as:
- Seeing a counseling therapist.
- By attending psychoanalysis sessions.
- When attending hypnosis sessions (ordinary or Ericksonian).
- Go to neurolinguistic programming sessions.
The prevention of anthropophobia can be a self-sufficient education, a self-confident personality, with a high level of self-esteem and a normal attitude towards others.
Parents should explain to the child from an early age what to expect in life, what dangers they may face, so that as he grows up, he is ready to bravely endure all the adversities that may come his way.
In addition, from an early age it is advisable to protect the baby from stress and tragic situations.
Especially the child should not be exposed to violence, nor can they be frightened: young children have an overly sensitive psyche that they absorb negative experiences like a sponge.
If the child is afraid, it is necessary to speak to him gently, explain that there is no need to be afraid, but in no case should you make fun of the child and tease him.
The games and trust that people close to you can give you can serve as an excellent substitute for psychotherapy.
However, if the child’s fear becomes pathological, if it does not have a clear basis and is not psychologically conditioned, then it is necessary to consult a child psychiatrist as soon as possible.
Anthropophobia can be cured by seeking help from a psychotherapist, and the sooner it is done, the better.
A competent medical approach, with the help of the patient, necessarily leads to calm and even the need for human communication of the patient.
It is possible to get rid of the pathology independently, but only in the initial stages of the disease, but it is better to carry out treatment under the supervision of an experienced specialist.
If the symptoms of the disease are ignored, in the future anthropophobia can become a complete isolation of a person from society, as well as the appearance of other additional disorders of the psyche.