Fear of Short People:Achondroplasiaphobia
Does dreaming about the dwarfs in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs cause you to wake up in a cold sweat?
What feeling do you get when seeing little people? Fear, anxiety, disgust or a mixture of all?
Or do you move in the opposite direction at the first sight of short people?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. You must be wondering ‘how common is achondroplasiaphobia?’ The truth is, it is as common and prevalent as any other phobia. Fear of little people can be debilitating, but there are ways you can overcome it.
First, let’s understand why you fear short people. What is it about them you are afraid of? What triggered this fear? Once you know what is causing your fear, it becomes easier to overcome it.
There are many names for the fear of short people or achondroplasiaphobia such as lollypopguildophobia and nanosophobia. It can start as a mere discomfort at the sight of dwarfs and go on to become a full-blown anxiety attack. People experiencing midget phobia refuse to visit shopping malls, circuses, fairs, casinos, and any place where they might encounter a small person.
Achondroplasiaphobia Is A Legitimate Fear
Many people are not aware that a phobia of midgets exists, and hence they believe that people with achondroplasiaphobia are simply rude to short people. Lindsay Lohan is one of the actresses who is known to fear dwarfs.
The technical term for fear of short people, “achondroplasiaphobia,” comes from the medical term “achondroplasia,” a disorder of the skeletal system. This disorder causes stunted growth which leads to dwarfism.
What Causes Achondroplasiaphobia?
Many times, achondroplasiaphobia stems from the stereotypical movies and books which depict dwarfs in unconventional ways. Let’s take Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for instance.
Although the seven dwarfs are kind and loving people, books and movies portray them to be living in forests far away from society. Such depictions can mislead people and establish incorrect notions about people who are shorter than average.
Traumatic Childhood Experiences
Fear of little people can also occur due to traumatic experiences during one’s childhood. For example, children might have had encounters with dwarfs who have mistreated them.
Many people who have a fear of small people believe that dwarfs are aliens from different planets. This belief comes from the concept of referring to Martians as “little green dwarfs.”
Mental Health Disorders
The phobia of dwarfs is also associated with other mental health disorders like anxiety and ADHD.
In many people’s eyes, dwarfs appear abnormal due to their disproportionately large faces, short stature, and hunched backs.
Achondroplasiaphobic people may experience the following physical symptoms:
● Dry mouth
● Fast and irregular breathing
● Disturbed sleep due to nightmares about dwarfs
● Increased sweating
● Hysterical screaming
● Wanting to flee at the sight of dwarfs
● Physical discomfort at even the slightest mention of dwarfs
Achondroplasiaphobic people may also experience the following psychological symptoms:
● Repeated anxiety attacks
● Intense, crippling fear
● A sense of guilt from being accused of being rude to dwarfs
What Can You Do To Help Yourself To Overcome Achondroplasiaphobia?
The crucial step to overcoming this fear is to educate yourself about short people. Dwarfism is a medical condition with genetic predispositions. Height does not determine character. Not all dwarfs are evil, in the same way that not all men of average stature are good.
Talk To A Friend
Talk to a person whom you trust the most. Having them listen to your fears will help alleviate them. If you aren’t able to talk, write down your emotions on a piece of paper.
In case you experience repeated panic attacks, a few lifestyle changes might help. These changes include regular exercise, a balanced diet, smoking cessation, and cutting down on alcohol consumption. There are many breathing exercises and relaxation techniques you can follow to help you cope better with your anxiety.
Putting yourself out there and attending support groups is highly beneficial. Support groups will make you feel like you are not the only one living with this phobia. You can also join online support groups if you do not want to step out of your home.
Use the various self-help resources available on the internet. Different authors have written many books on how to cope with phobias. Also, some organizations conduct courses for specific phobias; you can look them up too.
Seek Help From Professionals
The most crucial step of all is to seek help from a professional psychologist. Trying to cope with this phobia alone is rather difficult. It becomes so much easier if you receive help from a certified therapist.
Professional Help To Overcome Your Achondroplasiaphobia
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one of the professional tools that therapists use for achondroplasiaphobia treatment. CBT gradually changes the way you think about a situation. You will be taking short steps to overcome your fear. Your therapist will help you identify patterns, correlate your thoughts with your behavior, and gradually help you change the way you think. They will also provide you with exercises that will aid the process.
As the term suggests, exposure therapy is all about gradually exposing you to situations that you fear. Don’t worry, the therapy will take place in a harmless and controlled environment. For instance, if you’re an achondroplasiaphobic, you have to read about dwarfs, look at pictures of dwarfs, sit near a dwarf, and gradually, you will be able to talk to one.
Through repeated exposure therapy, you will begin to have more control over your fear. This mode of treatment can also be carried out using virtual tools. However, this is still at its testing phase.
Hypnotherapy involves putting people in a state of hypnosis or deep relaxation. This allows the hypnotherapist to understand your subconscious thoughts, memories, and fears. All of these will later be dealt with individually. There are national-level, trained hypnotherapists with whom you can book an appointment.
Eye Movement, Desensitization, and Reprocessing
This mode of therapy is used for people whose fear is related to a traumatic incident in the past. The therapist may ask you to visualize a fearful circumstance while you use eye movements to calm your responses. This aids in desensitizing traumatic memories. Gradually, you will be given real-life exposure to help you overcome your fear.
Should You Avoid Your Fear?
Avoiding your fears will only make them worse. The best thing to do is to seek help as soon as possible. However, most times, situations can become overwhelming. In such scenarios, think of the present rather than the steps you need to make in the future. Here are a few things you can do when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Take some time out
You must calm yourself in the midst of a fearful situation. Physical exercises and breathing techniques will help you do this.
Visualize Your Happy Place
Close your eyes and imagine being in a place that makes you feel safe, happy, and calm. You can imagine cuddling with your puppy or hugging your best friend. Let your positive emotions come to the surface.
Look At The Evidence
It helps to challenge your fears by collecting evidence. How many dwarfs do you know are dangerous? By thinking logically, you will be able to fight your fears.
Trust Yourself and the Process
Understand that you are not alone. With the right help, overcoming your fear will not be as scary as it seems. Trust yourself, your therapist, and the process. Who knows, you might even befriend a short person in the future!