In this blog we will discuss the symptoms, causes and treatment of Bogyphobia.
An intense fear of bogeyman is called Bogyphobia. It is a type of specific phobia which comes under the category of anxiety disorders in the DSM-V.
Someone suffering from it will experience extreme anxiety when exposed to bogeyman.
Even the thought of encountering them can instigate anxiety. If the condition worsens, one can undergo full-blown panic attacks.
Children fear bogeymen because of the way they imagine him to look, scary and hideous. They perceive him as a potential threat.
However, one suffering from Bogyphobia will get extremely terrified when they think about their fear stimuli or fear getting exposed to it.
This overwhelming negative response to bogeyman is unmanageable. Thus, a sufferer tends to avoid getting exposed to their fear stimuli.
The acts of avoidance are repeated because of the pleasant feelings it produces. This way, one’ phobia is manaianted.
Recurrent acts of avoiding bogeyman can turn into compulsions, leading one to develop OCD.
According to the DSM-V, anxiety and avoidance in Bogyphobia affect one’s social and occupational functioning.
For example, a child will avoid staying up late at night. They will refrain from going out of the house in the dark.
One won’t be able to withstand stories of them in books, therefore might avoid reading books at all.
Bogyphobia is an irrational fear of Bogeyman. It is a type of specific phobia, linked with fear of goblins and or demons.
Symptoms of Bogyphobia
Like in the case of all other specific phobias, Bogyphobia too has anxiety as its focal symptom.
Individuals suffering from an irrational fear of bogeyman suffer from extreme anxiety which, as mentioned earlier, can result in one having panic attacks.
When one undergoes extreme anxiety, the body experiences other physiological symptoms as well. Such as increased heartbeat or palpitations.
Because this fear of boogeyman is about something which is not physically present or seen and is highly subjective, sufferers of Bogyphobia experience symptoms in different ways.
One might have more severe symptoms than the other, based on their past experiences and intensity of the phobia.
Though, as the DSM-5 suggests, one must experience anxiety lasting for at least 6-months.
Symptoms one experiences in Bogyphobia are:
- Excessive anxiety when thinking about bogeyman
- Inability to manage anxiety
- Full-blown panic attacks
- Avoiding places or situations where one might encounter bogeyman
- Increased heartbeat
- Muscle tension
- Feelings of dizziness
- Feeling depressed
- Fear of an impending danger or harm
- Excessive sweating
- Hot/cold flashes
- Butterflies in the stomach
- Drying up of the mouth
For one to be diagnosed with Bogyphobia, a person should experience at least 3-5 of these symptoms (including anxiety).
Causes of Bogyphobia
Like every other specific phobia, Bogyphobia is a result of either genetics or a past traumatic experience.
Someone who has a family history of anxiety disorders or specific phobias has a higher chance of developing Bogyphobia than someone who doesn’t.
This is because they are genetically predisposed to develop it.
Genes and neurotransmitters also play a significant role in this genetic predisposition.
This genetic tendency to develop a mental disorder/specific phobia can also be referred to as a Diathesis-stress relationship.
According to this, one with a genetic predisposition will not develop symptoms of Bogyphobia until and unless there is some trigger event, instigating anxiety or fear of bogeyman.
One who suffers from an intense fear of the dark (Nyctophobia) might also be afraid of encountering or being surrounded by bogeymen when in dark or at night.
Also, the fear of demons (Demonophobia) and or fear of goblins can also cause Bogyphobia.
An environmental trigger event, causing Bogyphobia can be a past traumatic experience in childhood.
One’s parents or elder siblings can induce a fear of bogeyman in the sufferer by telling stories of how dangerous and or evil he is, so that the child obeys them.
Additionally, reading stories or watching movies on bogeyman can also lead to Bogyphobia.
Therefore, it is evident that there is no one cause for specific phobias to develop. Genetics with environmental factors, together will cause one to have Bogyphobia.
Treatment of Bogyphobia
Bogyphobia, like all other specific phobias, has no exclusive type of treatment that is specifically designed to treat it.
Like all the other specific phobias, Bogyphobia is treated by a number of different therapies including, Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT) and or medications that lower downs the anxiety or other physical symptoms.
• Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is one of the most frequently used treatments for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders.
Bogyphobia is defined as the irrational fear of bogeyman. Thus, the therapist helps the patient in replacing these irrational thoughts with more rational ones.
The patients are helped out in analyzing and justifying the way they feel about their fear stimuli.
Therapists assist them in uncovering the reasons behind their fear and later they provide them with alternate, pleasant thoughts.
The patient is told to maintain a thought diary (with ABCD column) which provides them a replacement for every irrational thought they have, when thinking about a particular situation.
The ABCD stands for:
i. A (antecedents) a situation or triggering event.
ii. B (belief) the thought that comes to one’s mind when in that triggering situation.
iii. C (consequences) the symptoms/feelings caused by that event/thought
iv. D (dispute) alternate, rational thoughts provided by the therapist in an attempt to dispute/challenge those irrational beliefs.
This last section of the thought diary is what really plays a role in helping the person feel good/less anxious.
• Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR is a meditation therapy, used to manage stress or anxiety. It is an 8-week program which includes group sessions.
Mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga are practiced in these sessions. Lectures and group discussions are also done to talk about mental health and increase interactivity.
In mindfulness meditation the person is told to, for example, focus on the sensations felt while breathing or the rhythm of the chest rising and falling during the process.
This distracts the person’s attention from something stressful to something which is neutral and soothing.
For quick and effective treatment, patients are also given a set of home works, for example 45 minutes of yoga and meditation sessions for 6 days a week and to record their results/feelings in a book or diary for 15 minutes a day.
This another form of treatment used with patients suffering from specific phobia or anxiety disorders. It is used with patients who know the cause of their phobia.
First, the therapist collects the patients’ history of different fears. They then identify the real cause of the particular fear/phobia the patient has.
They then discuss any new/latest event that triggered their anxiety and fear in the past few weeks.
People coming with specific phobias are told to imagine their distress causing stimuli.
The therapist then works with the individual in order for them to overcome their fear.
In the case of Bogyphobia, the patient will be advised on how to overcome his fear of bogeyman.
They do this by creating a positive imagery for the patients’ feared stimuli.
• Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
This is another effective therapy used to treat Bogyphobia.
It is more commonly used with people suffering from personality disorders, but is also useful with patients suffering from this type of specific phobia.
Coping skills are taught in the DBT group which lasts for about 6-months and can have a number of people (depending on how many join the group).
i.Half-smiling is the first module of DBT. It is a technique that is used with patients who are distressed because of their irrational thoughts.
The technique is known as ‘Half-smiling’ because the person is first advised to think about the stimuli that fears or upsets them, and while doing so they are told to lift the corners of their mouths by subtly smiling.
Smiling is not that will help one get rid of these unpleasant thoughts, it is the person’s ability to constrain itself from thinking about those thoughts while half smiling.
ii.Mindfulness, the second module, is another technique used in DBT groups which helps the individual in getting rid of those negative thoughts.
Individuals are told to focus on the present and be attentive to what is going on around them at the moment. This helps in breaking the link between their mind and any negative thought that might come to them then.
For example, a person is told to focus on his breath or on the sound of the wind around them, making use of their auditory sense.
iii.The third technique or module of the DBT is distress tolerance skills. This module teaches people to calm themselves down in healthy ways when they are distressed or emotionally overwhelmed.
Individuals are allowed to make wise, rational decisions and take immediate action, rather than being captured by emotionally destructive thoughts that might make the situation worse.
Reality acceptance skills are also learnt under this model so that people fully accept reality and later make plans on how to address the problem.
They are not just one of the many treatment therapies used for Bogyphobia, instead they are one of the most common ways of relaxation used by many people.
Yoga tends to stimulate the meditative state of one’s mind while the person is in a particular yoga posture.
Through yoga/meditation the mind is diverted towards something more productive and calm, allowing the person to escape the negative, distress causing thoughts.
Out of a number of yoga types, one can benefit from any yoga type/pose they like. Hatha yoga is one of the different types of yoga.
The breathing techniques or the imagery one creates while in a yoga posture are the real factors that makes the person feel less anxious and diverts their mind, away from the thoughts about their fear stimuli.
• Drug Therapy
Drugs are used to reduce the physical symptoms caused by Bogyphobia.
Drugs are very quick in effectiveness, as they start showing progress in the patients’ health at least 2 weeks after the medicine is taken.
This type of biological treatment is usually more effective if the cause of the phobia is only genetic.
However, these drugs/medicines are not to be taken without a doctor’s prescription or consultation.
Two types of drugs are used in the treatment of this phobia:
i. Antidepressant Drugs
These drugs, as the name suggests don’t only treat depression but are also very effective in treating phobias.
Medicines like Paxil reduce the anxious feelings of a person and makes him feel calm. They need to be taken on a daily basis but not without a doctor’s advice.
Medicines like Klonopin are anti-anxiety drugs.
They are most commonly used with patients who experience panic attacks and also lowers their anxiety by binding to receptor cells of the brain that cause these unpleasant symptoms.
Whether the cause of Bogyphobia, or any other type of specific phobia is genetics, environmental or both, the best and the most effective way of treating them is by using a combination of both biological treatments (drugs) with cognitive treatment (for example CBT/exposure therapy).
Titles to read
- Practicing Mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations for Finding Peace in the Everyday
by Matthew Sockolov, Daniel Henning, et al.
- The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
by Thich Nhat Hanh, Vo-Dihn Mai, et al.
- When Panic Attacks: The New, Drug-Free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life
by David D. Burns
- Anxiety & Panic Attacks: Their Cause and Cure
by Robert Handly and Pauline Neff
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1) What are the symptoms of Bogyphobia?
Bogyphobia is the fear of bogeyman. Someone suffering from this type of specific phobia experiences extreme anxiety, panic attacks or other physiological symptoms, such as hyperventilation, palpitations or nausea.
Q2) How is Bogyphobia caused?
Bogyphobia is caused either due to some genetic predisposition, or due to some past traumatic event (environmental factors).
One might be more prone to have this phobia if they have a family history of specific phobias or if they experienced a traumatizing event.
Q3) Is Bogyphobia treatable?
Yes. Bogyphobia is treated by a number of cognitive therapies such as CBT, Dialectical behavior Therapy or yoga.
Q4) Is bogeyman real?
No. There is no scientific proof for bogeyman to be real. They are based on perceptions of people.
However, one might not believe in their existence or feel threatened by them.
Below is a complete list of all Phobias which we currently cover.