Phobias are abundant, and many of us have a few or at least one. Some of us lucky ones have none. Although we know that phobias are fears that are based on irrational grounds, it is something we cannot always control. On the contrary, it often seems to control us. That being said, a phobia is something we can certainly learn to manage and even get over. Fear of heights and spiders are the common ones, but some people also suffer samhainophobia, fear of Halloween.
Here is a list of the most common phobias:
- Agoraphobia (fear of open spaces)
- Acrophobia (fear of heights)
- Claustrophobia (fear of small spaces)
- Entomophobia (fear of insects)
- Arachnophobia (fear of spiders)
- Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes)
- And more …
Read here my previous article: How Helping Others Helps You – Burnout Stories of Help
What is Samhainophobia?
Wikipedia (on phobia.wiki) defines samhainophobia as follows: “the morbid fear of Halloween. The origin of the term traces back to the Celtic word Samhuin, meaning All Hallows Eve to Christians, though Samhuin predates the introduction of Christianity to the region it originated in, Ireland, by at least 4000 years.”
Although Halloween is a time of fun, for some it causes anxiety, fear, and even panic attacks. Halloween means scary costumes; vampires, ghosts, zombies, and other ghoulish looking monsters. If you are suffering from samhainophobia, running into a group of people dressed up as (and playing the part of) monsters can be a terrifying moment.
Staying at home would be the best option, but the thing is, these monsters come to ring your doorbell and ask for treats. So, there is no escaping it, or there hardly seems to be a way to avoid it.
I do not suffer from this condition, but I can just imagine that during Halloween it must be a very trying time for anyone who has samhainophobia.
Symptoms of Samhainophobia
As per psychcentral, the symptoms could be the following:
- Terror, extreme fear, panic
- Dry mouth
- Chest pain
- Numbing, or a tingling sensation
- Inability to speak coherently
Possible Causes of Samhainophobia
As with many fears, they are usually based on events in our childhood. I have my fears as well, and while I am aware that there is no reason to be so afraid, I used to have a hard time getting over it. Now, these phobias do not control me anymore.
Perhaps a friend or relative jumped at you in a scary costume when you were little. To them it was only play, but to you it may have been traumatic. Little children sometimes can not tell the difference between what is real and what’s not. Maybe someone tried to frighten you with a monster’s mask when you were not old enough to handle it. Perhaps you were playing a spooky game as a child or listened to scary stories that left some fear in you. It could be anything.
It is likely that you do not even remember the event that sparked your phobia. In my case, I had a phobia that was caused by a childhood event that I did not remember at all.
An Anecdote About my Fears
If you are here just to read about samhainophobia, then you can skip this section and move to the What to do About Samhainophobia part below. It’s a little long as well, since I am discussing three fears. The only reason I am adding this is to show you that you can get over your phobias.
There were three fears that I had to deal with, two of them phobias, one of them a mild fear. The mild fear was related to spiders. Although I never had arachnophobia, I did not want those critters near me. If I found one in a bathtub I used to feel disgust – this was a really long time ago.
Then, I moved to the semi-desert in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Suddenly I was confronted with spiders that were the size of 1/4 or even half my hand … Gulp … I remember the first place I rented. In the bathroom I would usually find at least ten or more spiders that had thick bodies of perhaps 2 – 3 centimeters and quite long legs …
It took me many months before I decided to get a hold of myself and take the bull by the horns. I told myself to get over it. I was living in the desert now, and I had to accept that spiders were a part of life, small or big, it didn’t matter, they were there. Much of my life was outside, so I had to learn to live with spiders.
One day I rode an ATV in the desert and a tarantula crossed my path. I stopped my ATV to avoid running over it, and I watched it. The tarantula stopped and it felt as if it looked at me (but I could be mistaken, of course 😉 ). Anyway, at that moment, I observed the spider and I realized how beautiful the tarantula was. I know that some of my readers will think “what? She found a spider beautiful?”
Tarantulas are quite interesting creatures, and I do not find them scary looking. The moment I realized that, I knew that I could handle my fear of spiders. The tarantula went on its way and as soon as it had traversed the path, I rode off.
Now, I pick up (harmless) spiders by their legs and I carry them outside if I find them in my room or any other place where it may not be convenient. I know! What a change, isn’t it?! I find daddy long legs cute. Can you believe it? I observe spiders in their webs and admire their beautiful work. It’s an amazing change, and I am happy about it. It makes all the difference.
Fear of Electrical Escalators
For years I have had this fear that whenever I reached the end of the electrical escalator that my feet were going to be sucked in, and I always made a large jump to avoid getting too close to it.
I was always aware how ridiculous this was, but I could not help myself. I am also terrified of vacuum cleaners when they get too close to my feet. Although I know very well that they cannot suck up my feet, adrenaline shoots through my body and I make a beehive around the vacuum cleaner (especially those humongous ones at grocery stores and airports …)
Strangely enough, I had no idea where this fear came from.
One day I mentioned it to my father, and he grew very quiet. Then, he turned to me and said that he used to tease me with the vacuum cleaner when I was a little girl, approaching me with it and telling me to run, lest it would suck my feet. For him it was only a game, and he meant no harm, but he understood at that moment what it had done to me, and he felt bad about it …
I am better now. I can reach the end of an electrical escalator without making that huge jump like I used to. I now step off it like most people do. There is sometimes still a tingling in me when I get very close, especially when I see those giant vacuum cleaners in the grocery stores or shopping malls, I still don’t get near them. I may not have gotten over this phobia 100%, but at least I do not feel that fear anymore, and I know the cause of it now.
Fear of Heights
I have not worked on that fear. It is a strange one with me. I used to climb mountains as a teenager, and I loved it. I was never afraid while crossing feeble wooden bridges that hung over deep ravines, and hanging on to an outcropping from a rocky formation.
However, bridges, tall buildings, and any other man made high structures scared me to death. My belly tingled and my knees trembled every time I had to cross a bridge or when I stood on top of a building.
My fear never stopped me from going to the top of the World Trade Center (when it was still there), the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and other famous man made structures. However, I refused to get close to the edge and look down. Just the thought terrified me …
So, natural heights do not scare me at all, only man made structures. Weird, isn’t it? Perhaps I have that fear, because man made buildings can crumble? Who knows?
What to do About Samhainophobia
Can you rid yourself of phobias, get over them? Yes, it is possible. You can learn to handle them and even live without those crippling fears.
Here are a few suggestions.
Self education: learn the history of Halloween. It is an age-old tradition that is over 4000 years old. Its history is very interesting, and more knowledge about it may help you see it from a different perspective and take your distance from it.
Analyze your fears: which is what I did when I learned to handle – and even like – spiders. It helps you to see your phobia as an observer and understand what is really in charge of you. When you understand how little the thing is that has been controlling you, you may be able to control it yourself. Consequently, you may learn to even lose your fear and perhaps even start enjoying Halloween. Remember, I find some spiders beautiful now 😉
Therapy: a therapist can help you identify the causes of your fears and work with you to deal with them. This can be a great help; therapists are professionals that are trained to help you. I know that for some people therapy has a negative connotation to it, somehow meaning that you are “crazy”, but nothing would be further from the truth. If all other methods fail, then seeking therapy is a step in the right direction. You are just seeing a doctor, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Hypnotherapy: a qualified hypnotherapist can bring you in a state of trance (also known as heightened relaxation). During that stage you may be exposed to images you fear until you gradually learn how to cope with them.
Can You Get Over Samhainophobia?
Yes, you can, but the first step is to want to get cured from this phobia. You also have to be prepared to make an effort. If you are receiving help from a therapist or a hypnotherapist, you are also required to put in work. Like I did with spiders, you may get over your fear and you may even learn to like or perhaps enjoy Halloween.
Don’t let fear paralyze you. Take fear by the horns and show it where to go.
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Thank you for reading!