In this blog we will deliberate on the etiology, symptoms and the various treatments available for Megalophobia.
Megalophobia is a fear of large objects or things. Seeing huge objects one gets to view himself in perspective of those objects; the sheer size of his existence, the minuteness of his being.
This in turn triggers a fear response that resembles a full-blown panic attack
The enormity of things leaves the person suffering from Megalophobia bewildered that his presence is insignificant as compared to the size of the huge objects around him.
He feels as if these huge objects will engulf him and enclose him within.
This fear is of mostly airports, aircrafts, ships and dams. People who suffer from Megalophobia do not prefer to live near airports or dockyards.
They tend to stay in isolation and not move out much as bridges, skyscrapers and buildings also pose a threat for them.
This fear is enough to drive them away from the source of their anxiety.
Megalophobia is an irrational fear of large or huge objects and things.
The person when faced with these huge objects undergoes symptoms of anxiety and to avoid these symptoms he thus starts avoiding the very objects that cause it.
The objects can also be big sharks or whales and the enormity of these mingled with the viciousness associated of seas and oceans is enough to push the stress levels up.
Symptoms of Megalophobia
- Anxiety at imagining large things
- Anxiety when around huge objects
- The Inability to cope with the anxiety
- Feeling of helplessness
- Feeling of hopelessness
- Accelerated heartbeat
- Inability to breathe or gasping
- Dry mouth
- Mood swings
Causes of Megalophobia
As is common in specific phobias, the cause of Megalophobia 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 Megalophobia.
Etiological Models of Megalophobia
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 often see a movie of huge objects or things falling down and creating havoc can also leave a long lasting impression.
Reading books that have a detailed account of these disasters engulfing people who were never to be found can add to the fears.
A trauma or accident that took place in a place that involved huge or large things fuels the anxiety level of the person who is already vulnerable.
Traumatic experiences: an event or an accident that took place earlier can etch profound effects on the minds of people.
Either they themselves were involved in one or lost a loved one in it.
In both the cases the person developed an intense fear that led or was the cause of the trauma (either assumed or real).
If huge objects were involved in a trauma then the person can suffer from Megalophobia; being afraid of them till therapeutic intervention is involved.
3. Behavioral Model
According to this model, irrational fear of large 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.
Learned behavior: children learn behaviors from their adults.
If a parent or a significant other is scared of large things or objects the child learns the same kind of behavior.
Treatments of Megalophobia
Megalophobia 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.
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 tornadoes and hurricanes. 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 Megalophobia, the therapist separates the problem into parts.
These may include: thoughts, feelings and actions.
- What thought is invoked at the sight of large objects?
- How do you feel when you look at the large objects?
- What do you do when you look at the large objects?
- 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.
In Megalophobia, the person sees the large objects as very rightly threatening, not because these are dangerous, but because he ‘views’ them as posing some kind of threat to his existence even if he thinks about them or sees them on TV..
2) Systematic Desensitization (Exposure)
This is one of the most common therapies used in treating phobias and an effective way to desensitize the patient.
In this therapy the client with phobia is exposed to the stimulus ( large objects) gradually with varying durations of time.
Every time the ‘exposure’ of the feared stimulus is increased.
In Megalophobia the client is exposed to images of large objects first.
For the fear to be invoked during therapy, the patient must be exposed to an intense stimulus (one that is feared).
He is also asked to narrate any scene from a movie he has seen that involved incidents from these disasters that took place.
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 a 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 feared stimulus is made to imagine
b) In vivo – where the client visits the the feared place 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.
3. 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! 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 exposure to the open space and concentrate on his breathing patterns in the presence of the feared stimulus.
5. 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.
6. Changing Lifestyle
Breaking down the dullness of the daily, helps break down anxiety as well.
• Take up jogging or go for daily walks:
Developing a walk routine can damper the way our negative thoughts control our behavior.
• Indulging in an exercise regime:
Vigorous exercise like aerobics has proved to reduce or alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Exercise helps the mind to cope with stress and stressful situations better.
This is what the American Psychological Association has to say about inducting exercise to eliminate stress or phobias.
• Altering eating and drinking habits:
Cutting down on fatty foods and caffeine can improve self-image, that in turn leads to a raised self-esteem.
This finally diminishes the symptoms of stress to a bare minimum.
With high intake of caffeine, the body resembles a ‘fight or flight’ response, thus giving way to anxiety.
• Improving the sleep cycle:
When we get proper rest, our concentration improves.
7. Psychiatric Medication
There are a number of medicines that the Psychiatrist can prescribe if the symptoms of Megalophobia are severe.
1. Anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs)
These should only be taken after the consultation with the doctor and shouldn’t be initiated or discontinued as per personal discretion.
These medicines are not only used to treat depression, but also to alleviate the symptoms of Megalophobia 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.
8. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
This kind of therapy is used to regulate the emotions.
A technique called “half-smiling” is used where the client is asked to lift the corners of his mouth when the feared thought comes to his mind.
Apart from this the mind is to be trained to refrain from thinking about the painful stimulus.
Coping Ahead is another technique in DBT that requires the client to sit quietly and think of the feared situation and strategize what he will do.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes Megalophobia?
Megalophobia is fear of large objects.
The cause of this phobia may be linked to generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety.
What is Megalophobia?
Megalophobia is the fear of large objects ranging from large ships to airplanes and large animals to towering sculptures or skyscrapers.
Is Megalophobia common?
Megalophobia or the fear of large objects is common among many people, but experienced differently in each.
Can Megalophobia be treated?
Yes, Megalophobia can be treated with therapies and treatment.
Examples of other interesting phobias
Titles to Read
- Using Exposure Therapy to Treat Anxiety Problems: A step-by-step, clinical guide to using the exposure therapy procedure for six types of anxiety-related problems
by Clyde M. Feldman
- Exposure Therapy for Treating Anxiety in Children and Adolescents: A Comprehensive Guide
by Veronica L. Raggi, Jessica G. Samson, et al
- Anxiety, Phobias, and Panic
by Reneau Peurifoy
- Face Your Fears: A Proven Plan to Beat Anxiety, Panic, Phobias, and Obsessions
by David Tolin