This blog will summarize a phobia called Aichmophobia.
Aichmophobia is a fear of sharp objects, such s needles, pens, knives, etc. the person suffering Aichmophobia will experience stress even by thinking of the feared sharpness of objects. The extent of stress can result in a full-blown panic attack with increased heart rate, heavy breathing, sweating and dizziness.
People suffering from Aichmophobia may avoid sharp objects or even corners of buildings or will not even keep pens and knives at home. Their daily life activities are affected by their phobic condition.
Aichmophobia is similar to other types of phobia, including trypanophobia (fear needles and medical procedures involving needles) and belonephobia (fear pins and needles specifically). But people with Aichmophobia fear many types of sharp, pointed objects.
Aichmophobia is an intense fear of sharp things, such as pencils, needles, knives, even a pointing finger, or even the sharp end of an umbrella and different sorts of protruding corners or sharp edges in furniture and building constructions/materials.
SYMPTOMS OF AICHMOPHOBIA
The symptoms of Aichmophobia resemble those of an anxiety attack. They may occur suddenly and without any prior notice. The symptoms include
• Rapid heartbeat (Tachycardia)
• Fear of losing control
• Fear of dying
These symptoms leave the person with phobia totally out of sorts and ingrains in them an intense fear that will propel the sufferer to avoid the place with noise or in future even not leave the house in extreme cases.
CAUSES OF AICHMOPHOBIA
As is common in specific phobias, the cause of aichmophobia may lie deep in the person’s childhood or its onset may be due to an environmental factor. Genetics also plays a pivotal role in the cause of developing aichmophobia
Genetics also determines how a person reacts and feels. Therefore, people inherit fears and phobias as well from their families. The brain cells (neurons) release certain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Serotonin and Dopamine are two neurotransmitters that in depleted state can cause anxiety like symptoms.
If a person has suffered from a traumatic experience in early childhood it can have severe dire impact on his later life. There have been reported cases where the person as a child was threatened by scissors or knives whenever he refused to eat.
This later on created Aichmophobia in him where this fear was generalized to all sharp objects, but particularly knives and scissors.
This person was brought into therapy for Anorexia Nervosa, but upon therapy it was found that he actually had Aichmophobia. Upon treatment for this phobia, his symptoms of aversion of food also disseminated.
It does happen that during childhood a traumatic experience or accident with needles or knives or a sharp object might have occurred, this initiated pain or a trauma in the child’s life. If the feelings at that time were repressed then in later life the repercussions would be Aichmophobia.
According to this model, irrational fear of sharp objects may be caused through behaviors that are learned by replication. Children often replicate unique behaviors of their adults, parents or a favorite aunt or uncle.
If a parent or significant other displays fear of certain objects like scissors or needles then significantly the children will show the same fears as well. Families of persons suffering from Aichmophobia also make a lifestyle change. They need alternates of sharp objects for domestic purpose, they would even use furniture without sharp corners.
TREATMENTS OF AICHMOPHOBIA
Aichmophobia can be treated through different treatments. These include Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Exposure Therapy (Systematic Desensitization), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction MBSR) and forms of meditation.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
In CBT the therapist helps the client to alter his thoughts so that a desirable behavior can be achieved. This therapy is effective, because if the thoughts or cognitions alter then there will be a lasting impact on behavior.
The therapist helps the client to discover the reason for this thought, his behavior in regards to a particular fear or anxiety.
This therapy is goal oriented and short termed. Therefore, the results are seen soon. It changes the way a person thinks and feels. CBT does not focus on probing the past to resolve current problems, rather it concentrates on the present situation. Our thoughts determine how we act or react to certain stimuli and situations.
Our thoughts determine how we act or react to certain stimuli and situations. Therefore, negative thoughts bring about a negative behavior response or an undesirable behavior. Whereas, positive thoughts propagate desirable and healthy attitude and response.
For the treatment of aichmophobia, the therapist segregates the problem into parts. These may include: thoughts, feelings and actions. Realistic and unrealistic thoughts are then determined, so that the unrealistic thoughts are taken over by the more realistic thoughts.
The unrealistic fear of the client that he might hurt himself with the sharp object, if he holds it in his hand, is unreal. This thought is to be substituted by a more practical thought
The goal of therapy is the application of the learnt strategies to everyday life. The duration of treatment is short and the effects are long lasting.
Systematic Desensitization (Exposure)
This is one of the most common therapy used in treating phobias and an effective way to desensitize the patient.
In this therapy the client with phobia is exposed to firstly, the image of knives (phobic situation or stimulus) then being in the same visible field and then finally hold the knife. gradually with varying durations of time. Every time the ‘exposure’ of the feared stimulus is increased.
It is a type of behavior therapy developed by Wolpe in the 1950s. The aim of Systematic Desensitization is to remove the ‘feared stimulus’ and substitute it with a ‘relaxation response.’
Initially a relaxation technique that involves deep breathing is taught to the client. Then the client is asked to present a list that has hierarchical presentation of his fears, starting from the least fear evoking situation to the most.
The therapist takes the client through these situations via two methods:
a) In vitro – where the client is made to imagine the sharp objects
b) In vivo – where the client is exposed to sharp objects, like knives and needles or scissors in reality
The exposure to the phobic stimulus is of varying durations, where the client exercises relaxation techniques and can revert to a previous non-threatening situation any time.
For meditation to be effective during treatment, the mind is cleared off all the clutter of random thoughts. The mind and body are made to be ‘in sync’ with each other, so that the feared stimulus does not invoke a negative thought. The client will meditate during the exposure to the feared sound/s and with practice either in imagery first will be able to relieve himself of the symptoms.
Self Help groups are an effective type of therapy, in which the client does not find himself as a lone sufferer. These groups are comprised of individuals who are afflicted with the same types of phobias. They come together to share their thoughts, experiences and their coping strategies.
This also helps in developing a ‘sense of I am not the only one’ suffering. Thus, the chances of self-improvement and catering to own anxieties for alleviations becomes effective.
Breaking down the dreariness of the daily, helps break down anxiety as well.
• Take up jogging or go for daily walks:
• Indulging in an exercise regime:
• Altering eating and drinking habits:
• Improving the sleep cycle:
There are a number of medicines that the Psychiatrist can prescribe if the symptoms of Aichmophobia are severe.
Anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs) are the ones that rid the patients from symptoms of anxiety and panic. These should only be taken after the consultation with the doctor and shouldn’t be initiated or discontinued as per personal discretion.
Anti-depressants medicines are not only used to treat depression, but also to alleviate the symptoms of Aichmophobia as well as other phobias. Medicines alone might not be as effective, but if used in conjunction with therapies then the results will be better.
FAQs of Aichmophobia
- What causes Aichmophobia?
Aichmophobia is caused by an irrational thought that occurs to the person when he is using sharp objects as in knives, needles or even a pencil. The thought that the sharp object is harming him generalizes his fear.
- What is it about knives that scares people?
People are scared of knives because they pose a threat to many due to its sharpness and the ability to cut through the skin.
- How can I overcome the fear of needles?
Fear of needles can be overcome by taking therapies, following the counseling advice and if the need arises medicines as well.
- What is the difference between Aichmophobia and Trypanophobia?
The difference between Aichmophobia and Trypanophobia is that Aichmophobia is an irrational fear of sharp objects, that includes knives, needles and scissors, whereas, Trypanophobia is a fear of medical needles.
- What is the difference between Aichmophobia and Belonephobia?
The difference between Aichmophobia and Trypanophobia is that Aichmophobia is an irrational fear of sharp objects, that includes knives, needles and scissors, whereas, Belonephobia is a fear of all needles.
Titles to Read from
- Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks Fast by Barry McDonagh and BMD Publishing
- Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic, and Worry by Catherine M. Pittman PhD, Elizabeth M. Karle MLIS, et al.
- Anxiety Relief: A Complete Guide to Eliminate Negative Thinking, Stress, Dерrеѕѕiоn, Angеr and Panic Attасkѕ by Elliot Wood and Bill Franchuk
- DARE Workbook: New Brave Tools to End Anxiety by Barry McDonagh, Graham Thew, et al. | Sep 28, 2017
- Be Calm: Proven Techniques to Stop Anxiety Now by Jill Weber PhD