What Is Anatidaephobia & How To Cope With It
By: Patricia Oelze
Updated September 18, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
There are some phobias out there that may seem humorous at first, but for those who suffer from them on a daily basis, they are no laughing matter. Such is the case with anatidaephobia.
Anatidaephobia is the fear that at any point, somewhere in the world, a duck or goose may be watching the person who is suffering from the phobia. The person is not necessarily afraid that the duck or goose will attack them or even touch them. They only fear that the goose or the duck is watching them, keeping tabs on what they're doing at any moment throughout the day.
A phobia is an extreme fear of something. Phobias can be both irrational and paralyzing. In fact, irrationality is what makes a phobia a phobia. Being afraid of the duck at your local pond because he attacked your dog without good reason is rational. Being afraid of all ducks everywhere because you think they may be watching you and waiting to strike is not. However, despite knowing that this is an irrational fear, those with anatidaephobia cannot stop themselves from feeling intense fear at the very sight of a duck or goose.
A person who is suffering from a phobia will experience both mental and physical symptoms when the related stimulus is present, such as anxiety, a panic attack, shaking, and nausea. This is why even the funniest-sounding phobias should still be taken seriously, as there is more than likely someone out there who is suffering from that very condition to the point where it interferes with his or her ability to enjoy everyday activities.
Phobias And Anxiety
Phobias and anxiety go hand in hand. Because anxiety is not a pleasant feeling, those suffering from phobias will often go to extreme lengths to avoid feeling that feeling. For instance, someone who has aichmophobia, or a fear of needles, may avoid scheduling regular doctor's appointments not to have to worry about being in the same room as a needle.
Some phobias are seemingly unavoidable. In these extreme cases, the person may refuse to leave the house to avoid confrontation with the catalyst of his or her phobia. In these situations, it can be incredibly difficult for the person to seek help because s/he can't bring themselves to leave the house to go to the doctor's office. All hope is not lost, though. Nowadays, with the possibilities afforded to us via the internet, help is just a click away, like our BetterHelp counselors, who are always ready and willing to help.
The Origin Of Anatidaephobia
Anatidaephobia is a creation of Gary Larson's, cartoonist and creator of the popular comic The Far Side, and it is a phobia belonging to the "fictional and humorous" category of phobias. The word "anatidaephobia" can be broken down into "Anatidae," which is Greek for ducks, geese, and other kinds of waterfowl, and "Phobos," which is also Greek and translates to dread or fear.
While fictional and humorous phobias can be conjured up as a response to the idea that "anyone can be afraid of anything, and so anything can be a phobia," artists may actually be hitting the nail on the head, so to speak, for someone who has suffered from this fear and is now grateful that it can be referred to by name. Technically, no one can suffer from "anatidaephobia" because the name itself is not an official psychiatric term. However, the fear can be very real and categorized as a member of a phobia family that has been officially recognized by professionals.
Phobias are serious fears, and they should not be taken lightly. Though, it may be therapeutic for someone to see his or her fear cast in a comical light. This is because it may be helpful to laugh at the related material, as it could lead to the person coming to terms with his or her fear and no longer reacting to that particular stimulus with terror, but with laughter.
However, the fear of ducks or geese has the potential to be debilitating in that the person suffering from the condition may feel like he or she can't get anything done because they are constantly worried about the duck or goose that may be watching them. This can lead to even more phobias, such as agoraphobia, which is the fear of leaving the house.
Causes Of Anatidaephobia
As with most phobias, anatidaephobia more than likely results from a negative or even traumatic experience involving ducks or geese. A negative experience with waterfowl is more common than you may think. This is because ducks and geese tend to be violent by nature and have even been known to attack people without being provoked. They might nip at you, or swoop down to steal your food. This is why it is recommended for people to admire swans from afar, rather than attempting to get close to the otherwise beautiful birds.
Such a thing happening to a young child has the potential to be downright terrifying, leading to a lifelong fear or feelings of intimidation whenever ducks or geese are around. In addition to the fright that being nipped at can cause, it can also be scary to a child to hear the loud flapping noise that such a bird's wings can make as it hones in on its food or prey. This is the very reason why even a phobia such as this one, which may sound silly at first, should be taken just as seriously as any other phobia.
Symptoms Of Anatidaephobia
The symptoms of anatidaephobia are similar to those seen in instances involving other phobias. Symptoms can be physical, mental, or emotional, and they can differ from person to person, as everyone experiences a situation differently and, as such, reacts differently to different stimuli. Anxiety is the symptom that is seen most often, as it tends to occur with every phobia.
Someone who does not have anatidaephobia may smirk or laugh at the idea of a duck or goose trying to scare them, but for an anatidaephobic, this fear is constant and prevalent in his or her mind. In extreme cases, anatidaephobia may refuse to leave their homes out of fear of a duck or goose crossing their path.
Physical symptoms of anatidaephobia can include sweating, trembling, an increase in blood pressure, dry mouth, feelings of choking, and paralyzing fear that causes the person to stop dead in his tracks and be rooted to the spot. He may try to scream or even flee. Some anatidaephobia fear to lose complete control of their bodies, like succumbing to a potentially embarrassing episode including fainting, dizziness, or crying.
Chest pain and gastrointestinal issues are not uncommon for those who have this phobia, nor are feelings of dying or being trapped. That anatidaephobia who are not afraid to leave their homes entirely may go to extreme lengths to avoid traveling to an area that is known to have plentiful geese or duck population.
Treatment For Anatidaephobia
As with many phobias, those who have anatidaephobia often diagnose themselves and realize that their fear, while very real and strong, is irrational. However, they also understand that they are powerless to control it. In spite of this, though, many sufferers will refuse to see a doctor for fear of being laughed at or otherwise not taken seriously. As a result, the phobia may persist or even worsen for years until they finally seek treatment.
There are several methods of treatment that are used to help patients overcome anatidaephobia. One such treatment method is called NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy works by attacking our "learned or programmed" thoughts to re-program the brain to reverse what the patient has "learned" and eliminate his or her fear.
Self-help therapeutic methods can also be effective. Here, therapists teach their patients techniques that connect their bodies to their minds, such as deep breathing, meditation, and journaling their positive thoughts. Journaling can help them rationalize their negative thoughts and finally overcome their fear.
In extreme cases, medication may be prescribed to help the patient cope with the symptoms that result from his or her phobia. Medication is considered a last resort, as it does not attack the root of the fear; it only makes the symptoms easier to cope with. By eliminating the fear, the symptoms should naturally subside. However, if treatment is expected to be lengthy, a psychiatrist may prescribe medication to help the patient feel better in the meantime while they continue to attack and try to eliminate the true cause of his anxiety.
If you believe you have anatidaephobia and it is interfering with your ability to enjoy your life, please consider reaching out to one of our BetterHelp counselors for help. Our counselors are specially trained to handle phobias and can help you overcome your anatidaephobia for good and get back to enjoying your life.
What is the fear of ducks called?
The word "fear" is synonymous with the term "phobia". Fear is an uncontrollable and obnoxious emotion induced by something or someone. This sense of fear is irrational and obsessive. There is a list of phobias including space phobia, height phobia, a dark place phobia, animal phobias, and whatnots.
One of the existing phobias is the fear of ducks. Terminologically, it is referred to as ANATIDAEPHOBIA. Etymologically, anatidaephobia is derived from the Greek word “Anatidae", which means swan, ducks, or geese and "Phobos" which means fear. Precisely, anatidaephobia is the irrational and pervasive fear that you are watched by a duck. It's a mental health condition that puts you in a situation where you incessantly have the uncontrollable sense of fear that wherever you may be or what you're doing, you're being watched by a duck.
Is anatidaephobia a real phobia?
It should be clearly understood that anatidaephobia a real phobia. The fear of ducks to anatidaephobic is persistent and has an effect on the thought patterns in daily life. As a true mental health condition, the fear of ducks phobia has common symptoms including perspiration, shaking or trembling, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, paralyzing fear, screaming, or fleeing (especially seeing duck watching), dizziness, fainting, crying, gastrointestinal distress, and chest pains.
What is the Fear that Someone is Watching You?
The fear that someone is watching you is called scopophobia or scoptophobia. It is a terminology that etymologically originated from the Greek word “skopein" meaning “to look or to examine" and "Phobos" which means “deep dread or aversion".
Scopophobia, as a mental health condition, affects people in various degrees. Some individuals extremely affected to the extent of being afraid that someone is watching them all the time. Some other sets of people who are agoraphobic are afraid to move out of their doors because they have the fear that strangers would stare at them. The fear that someone is watching you is an anxiety disorder that makes victims experience other social or specific phobias which deteriorate when not treated.
Scopophobia is a specific phobia that that may be caused by epilepsy or Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic events, other social or specific phobias (stage fright or public speaking phobia), low self-esteem, and autism or Schizophrenia.
Does Everyone Have a Phobia?
There are different types of anxiety disorders. Phobias are the most common type. It's a mental health condition that can affect anyone irrespective of sex and age. Phobias are classified into two types: simple phobias and complex phobias. Simple phobias are explained to be a type of phobias that appear during early childhood but disappear as people grow older. Complex Phobias such as social phobias are described as a type of phobias that appear during puberty or in the late teens to early twenties for agoraphobia.
Virtually everyone is with one irrational fear or two. Most times, it's a minor reaction for most people. However, sometimes fears may become a disorder or cause extreme anxiety affecting the mental health of some individuals.
Can phobias be cured?
Phobias like other mental health conditions can be treated and cured. It's very important to know the triggers that induce your fears when you have the intention to cure specific phobias. The triggers include animal, place, object, or situation. There are different ways through which Phobias can be cured. You should know that one specific phobia is usually treated at a time. Most times doctors may recommend forms of treatment such as medication, psychotherapy (exposure therapy), or other forms of therapies. Effective treatment helps improve the quality of life with the certainty that fear and anxiety are lowered in your daily life.
As a matter of fact, it's observed that specific phobias are best treated through psychotherapy which is referred to as exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It effectively assists in managing a specific phobia.
Exposure therapy helps in changing your anxiety response. This response can be in relation to an object or situation that is feared. Exposure therapy is a form of therapy involves exposing you repeatedly to what stimulates your specific phobia and including your thought patterns, sensations, and feelings, instead of going to great lengths to avoid them. This consequently helps you know how to manage your fears anytime they appear. For instance, if your have fear of ducks or geese, your therapist may start by making you look at pictures of ducks, moving closer to one, and then probably stay and look as a duck watches you.
Another best form of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It's the combination of exposure therapy and other techniques to know how to deal effectively with the object or situation that causes your fears in different ways. CBT involves learning how to master your thoughts and feelings, and become confident in them rather than giving them the chance to overwhelm you.
The Use of Medications
Although it can be seen clinically that psychotherapy (exposure therapy) may be the best form of treatment for specific phobias. Sometimes doctors do prescribe medications that can help reduce the possibility of you experiencing symptoms of anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder or panic attack, by getting exposed to the situation or object that trigger your fear. You may want to talk to your doctor before taking any medication to treat any mental health condition.
The recommended medications usually include:
- Beta-blockers: These are used to inhibit the effects of adrenaline by stopping it from stimulating you. Adrenaline leads to increased heart rate, pounding heart, high blood pressure, and shaking limbs and voice caused by fear.
- Sedatives: Sedatives such as benzodiazepines may be prescribed. They help with relaxation by lowering your level of anxiety. It's very pertinent that sedatives are used cautiously and based on prescription—they can lead to addiction. Endeavor to avoid using them if you have a history of depending on drugs or alcohol.
What two phobias are we born with?
It's a known fact that everyone is born with two specific phobias. This was uncovered by scientists after the 1990s. These phobias are:
- Fear of falling: It was discovered by scientists that every human is born with the phobia of falling. It's a fear that comes with birth. This was shown through an experiment conducted with babies. These babies were put on a transparent glass. The findings that most of the babies showed the feeling of fear as they were scared of placing their feet into the glass.
- Fear of Our Noise: This is another fear that people are born with. It's a phobia that makes you want to cover your airs or focus a sound involuntarily when you hear a loud noise. It's a reaction that stimulates you and put your body in a run mode when you hear a loud voice in your subconscious mind. From research, it's shown that babies get afraid when they hear such a loud voice even when they are unable to interpret what the voice means.
Do phobias get worse with age?
Through empirical studies, it's shown that phobia can get worse with age. Most times, this often occurs when someone is suffering from the fear of heights. This is proven to get worse later in life. Kevin Gournay, an emeritus professor in London at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, and author of The Sheldon Short Guide To Phobias And Panic, buttressed this claim by emphasizing the cause by saying, "As you get older, your organ of balance tends to deteriorate and you're likely to feel more physically vulnerable."
Professor Gourney, however, included that although acrophobia may get worse as you age, other phobias remains less problematic ad you grow older. Many phobias diminish because the older you get, the less adrenaline (a hormone responsible for increased heart rate, pounding heart, and dizziness) your body produces.
It's important to know that are higher tendencies that your phobias may improve as you age; however, if they are associated with being vulnerable including fear of crowds or heights, it may get worse.
Phobias as mental disorders must be treated on time when discovered. If they are not confronted on time, it may get worse with time. There are available therapies meant to deal with mental disorders. Through any of these therapies, you will know how to manage or get it treated before it becomes worse.
How do you fight fear?
Fear, as an uncontrollable reaction, can be very disturbing. You should invariably look for ways to deal with them before they become worse. The following are some of the ways you can fight your fear:
- Engage in what can distract you from the worry. You can have a bath, make a cup of tea, or stroll around the block.
- When you feel scared, try to place your palm on your stomach and take a deep slowly.
- Don't be overwhelmed by your feats but face them.
- Think about the worse thing that may possibly happen such as a heart attack.
- Create a mental picture that can bring comfort to you or make you calm.
- Find a treatment center or a support group
- Avoid substance or drug abuse. This will only make it worse
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