In This blog we will summarize the causes, symptoms and treatments of Anablephobia.
Anablephobia is an irrational fear of looking up. It might stem from being overwhelmed by the vastness of the sky.
This fear is out of context being afraid of something that cannot cause harm of any sort to the person.
People suffering from Anablephobia may feel insignificant in context to the vastness of the sky above them.
They might also be scared of falling objects from the sky, like airplanes, meteors, even birds or hail storms that damage property and injure people.
Anablephobia is an intense fear and the person suffering from it might not be able to enjoy the beauty of the sky or the vastness of spaces.
It is derived from the Greek word ‘ana’ meaning ‘up’, latin word
‘ble’ meaning ‘act of’ and ‘phobos’ meaning fear.
Symptoms of Anablephobia
To avoid the experience of anxiety itself the individual may develop Anablephobia, so as to avoid the very cause of the uncomfortable condition.
- Anxiety at the thought of looking up.
- Anxiety when seeing other people looking up.
- Unable to be involved in activities that include looking up.
These are intense and can begin without any prior warning.
The person suffering from Anablephobia experiences the full physical intensity of either all of these or some of these in combination with others.
- hot flashes or chills
- shortness of breath a choking sensation
- rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
- feeling faint
- dry mouth
- ringing in ears
- raised blood pressure
The Psychological Symptoms
During panic attack the person suffering from Anablephobia may experience the following
- fear of being in the open
- feelings of dread
- Socially withdrawn
- fear of losing control
- feeling of hopelessness
- feeling of disconnect
- lack of concentration
- mood swings
- afraid of rejection
- incapacitated to enjoy the outdoors
Causes of Anablephobia
As with most phobias and anxieties, there is no clear consensus about what causes Anablephobia, but still a very plausible cause could be a fear of committing a mistake.
The most common explanation is a childhood traumatic episode involving falling objects being hurt by something falling from above..
Scientists believe that a combination of genetic tendencies, brain chemistry, and other biological and environmental factors could cause such fears to develop.
As is common in specific phobias, the cause Anablephopbia 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 Anablephobia.
Other causes can be as follow:
• Learned behavior
• Traumatic experiences
Etiological Models of Anablephobia
1. Biological (Genetic) Model
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 states can cause anxiety like symptoms.
2. Psychodiagnostics Model
If a person has suffered from a traumatic experience in early childhood it can have a severe dire impact on his later life.
A childhood traumatic experience could be where children experienced a negative impact of events due to a change in their life.
This may leave a long lasting impression. Reading books that have a detailed account of UFOs coming from outer space and from the sky may also fuel to the scare.
3. Behavioral Model
According to this model, irrational fears 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.
Treatments of Anablephobia
Anablephobia can be treated through different treatments.
These include Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Exposure Therapy, Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction MBSR) and forms of meditation.
1) Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
In CBT the therapist helps the client to amend 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 changes in life.
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. 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 Anablephobia, the therapist separates the problem into parts. These may include: thoughts, feelings and actions.
- What thought is invoked at the thought of looking up?
- How do you feel when you see people who are looking up?
- What do you do when you have to look up?
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a form of CBT and designed by Albert Ellis. According to Ellis, “people are not disturbed by things but rather by their view of things.”
This is what subjective perspective is.
2) Exposure Therapy
It is one of the most frequently used ways of treating patients with Anablephobia.
In this therapy, the patient is exposed to the source of his fear over a certain span of time.
To begin with the therapy, the therapist exposes the patient to the least triggering stimuli.
As the therapy progresses and the patient is able to control his anxious feelings, imagery can be used to take the treatment a step further.
In this part of the treatment the patient is asked to visualize/imagine a situation that makes him anxious.
During this process of imagery, one actually feels being in that particular situation or place, experiencing various senses.
Once the person successfully, without feeling anxious clears this step of the therapy, he is then exposed to real life situations.
While the patient is being exposed to different intensities of stimuli during the various stages of therapy, the therapist simultaneously teaches them coping exercises.
These include, breathing techniques or muscle relaxation methods to lower their anxiety, when in an actual fear/anxiety causing situation.
This teaches them how to remain calm when exposed to the fear stimuli.
Before actually starting the exposure therapy, the therapist needs to figure out the intensity of the patient’s fear, as to deduce whether they will be able to undergo this treatment, without any physical or psychological harm caused to them during the exposure processes.
3) Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP)
In this therapy the client is asked to
- Access the phobia in a safe environment.
- Help them to replay the phobia along with happy emotions.
- Disassociate from the phobia.
4) Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR involves being aware of one’s own thoughts, feelings and reducing the interference from around the environment.
We do not pay attention to how we process the various stimuli that affect us.
We do not process the way our bodies feel and respond, there is no focus on our thoughts and how these thoughts are influencing our emotions.
In MBSR, the client is ‘woken up’ to actually experience the various senses. ‘Focus’ is the keyword!
In Anablephobia treatment, the client is made conscious to pay attention to his thoughts when he is thinking of what he is afraid of.
Awareness helps to alleviate the stress symptoms.
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 thoughts of death and concentrate on his breathing patterns in the presence of the feared stimulus.
6) Self-Help Groups
Self Help groups are an effective type of therapy, in which the client does not find himself as a lone sufferer. These groups are 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why am I afraid of the sky?
You might be afraid of the sky because of the vast spread and the hype of UFO’s that is created in Sci-Fi books and movies.
What is Anablephobia?
Anablephobia is fear of looking up.
How can Anablephobia be treated?
Anablephobia can be treated by Cognitive Behavior Therapy and a combination of other therapies.
Titles to Read
- Overcoming Specific Phobia – Therapist Protocol: A Hierarchy and Exposure-Based Protocol for the Treatment of All Specific Phobias
by Edmund J. Bourne PhD and Matthew McKay PhD
- Exposure Therapy for Anxiety, Second Edition: Principles and Practice
by Jonathan S. Abramowitz, Brett J. Deacon, et a
- Specific Phobias: Pharmacotherapeutic options
by Jarnail Singh and Janardhan Singh
- Mastery of your Specific Phobia
by Martin M. Antony, Michelle G. Craske, et al
Examples of other interesting phobias