Bibliophobia – The Fear of Books


Excessive Fear of Books

Did the book review you had to write in English class in school terrify you? And not just because you don’t like to read? If your answer is yes, then you may have Bibliophobia.

A lot of people, especially active readers, will never understand the extent of Bibliophobia. That feeling of being gripped with a sense of dread at the mere thought of reading a book can be crippling.

Bibliophobia may seem like it’s no big deal. It may not even be taken seriously by others. After all, who gets scared of books? But the anxiety, panic attacks, hyperventilation, etc., that comes with it are all too real.

To make sure that this fear does not take over your life, you need to first gain a better understanding of Bibliophobia.

What Causes Bibliophobia

Like most phobias, Bibliophobia has no specific cause. Such phobias can be caused by several different factors. Besides, the cause may differ from person to person. One of the major causes could be genetics. If someone in your family, a parent perhaps, has grown up with Bibliophobia, you may inherit or adapt this fear from them.

The reason could even be something as trivial as a bad book-reading experience. Mispronounced a word in front of an audience and got scarred for life? It’s a possibility. Reading a horror book in childhood can also lead to developing Bibliophobia later in life. Other factors such as learning disabilities, particularly those that are undiagnosed, including dyslexia and even other phobias such as the fear of long words (hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia) are known to be related to Bibliophobia.

Everything You Need to Know About Bibliophobia

The term Bibliophobia is derived from the Greek word “biblion” meaning books and “Phobos” meaning fear. Bibliophobia is not a word to throw around just because you don’t like reading. The fear is very real and can be very traumatizing for those who experience it. Although this phobia of books is in no way dangerous or harmful, it can have an adverse impact on your daily life if it gets out of control. The fear of books is pretty unusual and like all other phobias, it is 100% irrational. But saying that out loud has never helped anyone, has it?

People with Bibliophobia often do not feel like they need help. They can simply avoid books, which gives them a sense of control over their fear. Although this may seem like an easy quick fix for the problem, avoiding the issue and leaving it unresolved can severely limit your life.

Symptoms of Bibliophobia

The severity of the symptoms of bibliophobia depends entirely on the intensity of the phobia. Bibliophobia may be an irrational fear but I can assure you that the symptoms are very real.
Individuals with Bibliophobia may experience physical as well as psychological symptoms. These symptoms can range from mild to severely disabling. Anxiety and panic attacks are commonly observed repercussions for almost all types of phobias. Bibliophobia is no different. The very thought of a library can trigger extreme fear. Let us take a look at some of the known symptoms of Bibliophobia.

Psychological Symptoms

● Anxiety and fear when confronted by books
● Avoiding being around books
● Feeling nervous or ashamed of this fear
● Feeling panicked and wanting to run away when around books
● Constantly worrying about dealing with books
● Blaming oneself and feeling guilty
● Difficulty concentrating
● Feelings of confusion

Physical Symptoms

● Excessive sweating
● Nausea
● Tightness in chest or chest pain
● Dry throat
● Trembling
● Clammy hands
● Increased heart rate
● Feeling dizzy
● Lightheadedness
● Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
● Hyperventilation
● Chills or hot flushes

An individual with Bibliophobia can experience some or all of these symptoms. It is important that you are aware of and can recognize these as they can worsen if not addressed in time.

How to Overcome Bibliophobia

Just because you have Bibliophobia, does not mean you have to suffer with it until the end of time. Bibliophobia can be overcome if you put in the necessary effort. There are numerous ways through which you can overcome a phobia. You certainly can’t change the past that caused your fear, but you can change the future and the nature of the fear itself. All you need to do is give yourself a little nudge in the right direction.

Can Self Help Work?

While most people would say therapy is the best way to overcome any phobia, before you consider seeking out a therapist, you may want to try some self-help methods to overcome Bibliophobia.
Like other phobias, treating the symptoms of Bibliophobia itself can go a long way. Anxiety is the primary and most visible effect of this phobia, and there are ways to deal with anxiety by yourself.

Breathing exercises are a great way to calm yourself. Controlled breathing, taking deep breaths, and rhythmic breath is known to reduce anxiety.
Another proven method to address anxiety is to meditate and practice yoga. Yoga is known to have a calming effect on our minds. Regular practice helps the mind to be diverted to more self-assuring and positive thoughts, away from the fear and distress of the phobia.

You can even try journaling to help identify your triggers so that you can better deal with them.

Professional Help for Bibliophobia

If you aren’t quite as successful in helping yourself as you had hoped, you may want to look into seeking outside help. A psychologist knows the ins and outs of phobias and is better equipped to help you fight and overcome them.

Depending on the severity of your phobia, a therapist or psychologist may apply different methods. Some of the effective treatment methods are as follows.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
is the most widely used technique to address various disorders. It involves replacing the irrational thoughts of Bibliophobia with rational thoughts through analysis and logical thinking.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) involves teaching several coping skills such as developing a positive reaction (e.g., smiling) to the phobia or learning to calm oneself.

Exposure therapy, as the name suggests, exposes the person to their fear, starting with the least triggering stimuli (looking at a picture of books) and eventually moving on to holding a book.

Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a stress-reduction therapy that uses meditation and yoga to teach the patient to learn to calm themselves.

Medication may also be prescribed in extreme cases. But remember, self-medication is never a good idea. Always talk to your therapist if you feel you need more help.

Coping with Bibliophobia

Acknowledging that your phobia is real and not something that will just go away on its own is the first step to overcoming it. Arming yourself with a better understanding of your fears will help you deal with them more effectively
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Even though most the phobias can be completely cured, there is no guarantee for it. No single treatment is known to be effective for all. The effectiveness of all the coping mechanisms and therapies described here depends largely on the severity of the problem.

However, you can use this information to significantly lessen the accompanying anxiety that comes with Bibliophobia. Deep breaths, meditative thoughts, and relaxation techniques can be very helpful in addressing this problem.

Overcoming your fear of books will go a long way in changing your lifestyle and your understanding of the world. The world of books is beautiful and filled with magic, poetry, literature, art, and infinite imaginations. So the next time your friend tells you about an interesting book, take a deep breath, tell yourself you’re fine, and you might just find yourself curled up with a book, letting its magic consume you.

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