In this blog we will discuss the symptoms, causes and treatment of Enetophobia.
Fear of pins is called Enetophobia. Pins are tiny, sharp metal objects. They are used to for example, pin papers on board, some are used to stitch fabric or hold it together etc.
Pins are not very harmful but useful objects. Though, they do cause people injuries or certain infections if rusted. Otherwise, people don’t fear them the way someone suffering Enetophobia does. Normally, one uses pins consciously in order to avoid getting pricked or sting.
Sufferers of Enetophobia, however, get terrified at the sight of or thought of pins. This is because Enetophobia is a part of anxiety disorders in the DSM-V, categorised as a specific phobia. Sufferers experience extreme anxiety when exposed to their fear stimuli.
This anxiety is what pushes one to avoid their fear stimuli, pins completely. Avoidance causes hindrances in an individuals daily activities, the social and occupational functioning.
For example, a sufferer will avoid keeping pins in their room or going into a room they fear they might see them (like their mother’s room). They won’t wear dresses that might require a pin to be used to fix it’s size.
These actions cause one to become obsessive about their fear stimuli. These obsessions give rise to compulsions and one avoids pins repeatedly. Thus, a sufferer might develop OCD in the future.
Because avoiding pins cannot be possible all the time, if one is unable to do so, he suffers from extremely high levels of anxiety and terror. This stems into full-blown panic attacks.
Enetophobia is an irrational fear of pins. It is a type of specific phobia which is also called Enetophobia. It is also related to other phobias such as Belonephobia (fear of needles and pins).
Symptoms of Enetophobia
People with Enetophobia, like in all other specific phobias experience intense anxiety on the mere thought of pins. They’re unable to control this anxiety and thus, end up feeling more anxious. This anxiety, in extreme cases, can give rise to full-blown panic attacks.
Sufferers go into flight or fight mode because of an adrenaline rush. In this state, the body’s physiological responses help one make decisions when in fear causing situations. They either decide to escape the situation (flight)-faint or suffer from panic attacks or stay and combat their fear (fight)-by taking counterproductive actions.
In the case of Enetophobia or any other type of specific phobia, the physiological symptoms that are produced when exposed to pins (including extreme anxiety) cause the person to escape or avoid that situation. Sufferers don’t have the courage to fight with their fear because of the unpleasant, terrifying experience the body goes through.
According to the DSM-V, one must experience anxiety lasting for at least 6 months and 3-5 symptoms out of the ones listed below:
- Extreme anxiety when see pins
- Extreme anxiety when thinking about pins
- Anticipatory anxiety
- Inability to control anxiety
- Repeated acts to avoid pins
- Full-blown panic attacks
- Muscle tension
- Increased heartbeat
- Feelings of dizziness
- Hot/cold flashes when in a flight or fight mode (A hot flash refers to the temporary heating up of the body when in a state of fear. And a cold flash means when the body suddenly starts to shiver or cool down, when encountered by a fear stimulus).
- Butterflies in the stomach
Causes of Enetophobia
Enetophobia, like all other specific phobias, has no known cause. These types of phobias can be a result of a number of factors such as biological (genetics) and or environmental (past experiences or social learning).
Genetics refers to the genes and neurotransmitters in our body. Someone with a family history of a phobia/mental disorder has a higher chance of having the same or different disorder in the future. This is because the genes of the parents are transferred to their children, thus any alteration in the genes of one’s parents is inherited by the child.
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 Enetophobia until and unless there is some trigger event, instigating anxiety or fear of pins.
Someone who has been pricked by pins will fear them because of the pain or sting they cause. Also someone who is fearful of injuries or blood (Traumatophobia and Hemophobia respectively) is very likely to fear pins too.
One might develop Enetophobia because a rusty pin, if pricks can cause infections which can affect one’s health.
Therefore, Enetophobia is caused by both factors.
Treatment of Enetophobia
Enetophobia, like all other specific phobias, has no exclusive type of treatment that is specifically designed to treat it. Like all the other specific phobias, Enetophobia is treated by a number of different methods: Psychological treatment and Biological treatment.
- Psychological Treatment
• Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is one of the most frequently used treatments for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders. Enetophobia is defined as the irrational fear of pins. 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.
• Exposure Therapy
It is one of the most frequently used ways of treating patients with Xyrophobia (or any other kind of specific phobia). 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, a picture of a pin for example.
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 in which he is using a pin. During this process of imagery, one actually feels that he’s 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 a real pin.
While the patient is being exposed to different levels of fear 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 causing situation. This teaches them how to remain calm when exposed to their 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.
However, these steps desensitize one to their fear of pins, by exposing them to that stimuli repeatedly, until they learn to undergo the situation without anxiety/panic attacks.
• Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
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 Enetophobia, the patient will be advised on how to overcome his fear of pins. 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 Enetophobia. It is more commonly used with people suffering from personality disorders, but is also useful with patients suffering from this type of animal 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 Enetophobia, 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.
- Biological Treatment
• Drug Therapy
Drugs are used to reduce the physical symptoms caused by Enetophobia. 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 Enetophobia, 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
- 101 Ways to Stop Anxiety: Practical Exercises to Find Peace and Free Yourself from Fears, Phobias, Panic Attacks, and Freak-Outs
by Tanya J. Peterson
- The Miracle of the Breath: Mastering Fear, Healing Illness, and Experiencing the Divine
by Andy Caponigro
- Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose
by Rebekah Lyons
- The Mindful Way through Anxiety: Break Free from Chronic Worry and Reclaim Your Life
by Susan M. Orsillo, Lizabeth Roemer, et al
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1) How is Enetophobia caused?
This phobia of pins is caused by either a genetic predisposition, such as a family history or an environmental factor-past traumatic experience.
Q2) Do I have Enetophobia?
To know if someone has Enetophobia, one needs to experience extreme anxiety, panic attacks, fainting, increased heartbeat, nausea, muscle tension etc. The anxiety one experiences should last for at least 6 months.
Q3) How can I overcome my fear of pins?
One needs to consult a therapist in order to get treated. The therapies one can get in order to get treated are CBT, exposure therapy and or medicinal drugs.
- www.apa.org Eneto