Are You Chicken of Chickens?
Let’s face it. Chickens are adorable. If you grew up on a farm or spent summers on a farm, having had chickens afoot or the daily morning collection of eggs were all something to look forward to. But if the mere sight of a chicken causes you to break into a cold sweat, you might have an excessive fear of chickens or alektorophobia.
The fear that envelops you at the sight of a live chicken—or even a picture of one—can be overwhelming. It’s hard to explain to others, and even to yourself, how a chicken can freeze you in your tracks. Talking about it is difficult. Unlike the fear of snakes or tigers, a chicken is considered harmless, and society is hasty to judge and mock.
At about 70 centimeters in height, chickens are more likely afraid of us. But for you, it’s the other way around.
It’s not too late, though, because there are many proven methodologies to help you overcome your fear. Understanding how and when it first started is vital in getting that chicken fear cooped up and under control.
What Causes the Fear of Chickens?
Believe it or not, your alektorophobia has a beginning.
Most people with this specific phobia cannot recall how the gripping fear started, but it most likely began from a negative and traumatic experience. Most animal-related fears stem from an actual frightening encounter with that animal, in this case, a chicken.
When you were young, you might have crossed paths with an aggressive duck or chicken. Being small and vulnerable, the chicken left a frightening mark in your life, and that chicken won the first round.
Additionally, our environment and genetics can also be a cause of your fear. If you grew up with elders who were anxious around chickens, you might have adapted that nervousness and developed the same reaction and perspective about chickens.
What Is the Fear of Chickens?
Chickens may be your least favorite animal, but overall, it should not cause you to panic. If it does, you don’t have a deep dislike of chickens, you have a fear of chickens.
Is there a fear of chickens? Yes, there is.
This fear is called alektorophobia, and it’s specific to chickens or hens.
As the name suggests, this phobia leads to an irrational fear of chickens. It may even include other feathered creatures, including their eggs. The fear can be triggered by seeing a live chicken or even an image of a chicken. Sometimes, alektorophobia is a fear of what the chicken might do to you.
Although this is not a very common phobia, the severity of your fear can impact your social life and your self-confidence. Based on studies, you can categorize your fear from lowest to highest:
Level 1: You get scared at the sight of a chicken.
Level 2: You get scared at the sight or representation of a chicken, regardless if it is live or not. The fear of rubber chickens and chicken toys falls under this level.
Level 3: You get scared at the sound of a chicken even if there is no live chicken around.
Level 4: You get scared at the mention of the word ‘chicken’ and other words associated with it, like eggs.
Level 5: You are so scared that you don’t even consume chicken, because it becomes a reminder of your fear.
Symptoms of Alektorophobia
There are two types of alektorophobia symptoms: physical and psychological. Based on the severity of your fear, you may experience some or all of these symptoms:
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty in breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Nausea and dizziness
- Shaking uncontrollably
- Sweating and chills
- Avoiding chickens – live or otherwise
- Feeling of guilt or shame about your fear
- Constant thoughts of chickens attacking you
- Irritability and restlessness
- Immediate and intense fear
- Hearing audible chicken noises sans the actual chicken
- Need to get far away from chickens
- Panic attacks
How to Deal with Alektorophobia?
If you feel like your fear is taking away opportunities and negatively affecting your relationships, then it’s time to face down the chicken. Being scared and unhappy because of your phobia is an unpleasant situation. The feeling of helplessness, and the constant barrage of irrational thoughts can be wearing.
Are you ready to get your fear of chickens under control?
Although there is no direct approach to overcome this phobia, there are many available treatments you might consider. Consulting and seeking the help of a medical professional may be advantageous for you.
As with every phobia out there, dwelling on the why is useless. Focusing on the how is more important in overcoming this dilemma.
Alongside professional help, learn some relaxation and breathing techniques. By focusing on your breathing, you are sending your brain an important message, and that is to remain calm and to relax. Deep breathing is one of the proven ways to fight off anxiety. It works well, too, for impending panic attacks.
Another thing you can do is identify your trigger points. Is it the chicken’s proximity to you or the clucking that worries you? By knowing these triggers, you can start focusing on how to control your thoughts and your reaction to the situation and the chicken.
Lastly, face the chicken. Face your fear. You can do this gradually by first looking at an image of a chicken and listening to its sound. Then you can move on to watching them from afar before progressing to being in close range to them. Constantly and regularly exposing yourself to your fear can eventually desensitize you to it—no more anxiety.
Professional Treatments and Care for Alektorophobia
Reaching out to a medical professional or a therapist about your phobia is advisable. Knowing that there are others like you, and hearing them speak of how they overcame their fear is comforting and motivating.
Various treatments have proven helpful. Based on the severity of your phobia, your therapist will recommend which treatment may benefit you the most.
Hypnotherapy – Also referred to as hypnoanalysis. It can help determine the root cause of your fear of chickens. This will eventually pave the way to learning about your fear patterns and how you react.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT involves gradual exposure and measured desensitization to chickens. This will challenge your tolerance and your anxiety reaction. CBT takes time, because the progress solely depends on you, but it’s proven to be effective.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming – This is based on the principle that you are the one who creates words that are associated with your phobia. These are the words you think about repeatedly which can trigger your fear. By doing this repeatedly, your therapist will gauge your physical reaction and expressions and help in remodeling your thoughts when your ‘banned’ words are said.
Energy Therapies – There are a lot of options in this bucket. You can try Tai chi, meditation, and qigong (pronounced chi gong) to help you create and develop a positive image of chickens. Energy psychology is intended to modify the life force energy, or your chi, to banish your fear of chickens.
Medications – Benzodiazepines might be prescribed, but this is more to treat your anxiety and not the fear itself.
Choosing the right treatment can provide a permanent solution to your phobia.
Learning to Cope with Alektorophobia
While you wait for the professional alektorophobia treatments to kick in, learning to control your reaction and lessening your anxiety will help empower you.
Your fear of chickens does not define you as a person, but being able to fight it and even overcome it makes you a stronger person.
There are several ways for you to ease your fears. Get your family and friends’ support, because at times like this, a strong support group can make a difference and influence your motivation.
Overcome your fear of chickens one day at a time. Perhaps there will come a day when you can enjoy an adventure or two with the bespectacled, helmet-wearing chicken and his friends.