Bogyphobia: Fear of the Bogeyman
The bogeyman may well be one of the most feared mythical creatures of all time. Used to get misbehaving children under control, we’re taught as kids that a bogeyman is hiding under the bed or in the closet lying in wait until it can put children in its sack and steal them away from their homes.
Though there isn’t a universal consensus on the bogeyman’s appearance, many describe him as having talons, claws, and sharp teeth. Based on different narratives, the bogeyman has been depicted as a witch, spirit, and demon. With such descriptions, is it any wonder that some children excessively fear the bogeyman while some adults continue to experience an irrational fear of it? For those of us who were never able to stop fearing the bogeyman, take heart. There are ways to get rid of or even just lessen your fear and help you take back control over your life. Before we discuss bogyphobia treatment, however, let’s get a better understanding of what it is exactly.
What is bogyphobia? According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) V, the handbook used by US healthcare professionals, bogyphobia is an anxiety disorder.
Bogyphobia isn’t a hard phobia to understand. As its name implies, bogyphobia is an irrational and uncontrolled fear of the bogeyman. Since many of us have grown up hearing stories about the bogeyman and what it could do to us, people with bogyphobia experience great anxiety at the thought of coming face-to-face with the bogeyman even if it is a mythical creature. Bogyphobia can also be the result of other people’s experiences (stories they might have shared with the sufferer) or genetics if you have family who had similar or related fears.
It is a difficult way to live but there are ways to manage it.
Like other phobias, anxiety is the main symptom of bogyphobia. Fearing the bogeyman, sufferers will exhibit extreme anxiety that could lead to panic attacks. Depending on the severity of the attack, hospitalization might be necessary in some cases. However, the triggers, intensity, duration, and specific symptoms will be different in every case and every individual. People who have bogyphobia might suffer full-blown panic attacks and feel extremely terrified at the irrational prospect of encountering the bogeyman. They will have little to no control over their negative responses and will engage in behavior that they believe will save them from the bogeyman.
The Cycle of Avoidance Behavior
Sufferers may resort to activities that seem illogical to others just to keep the object of their fear away from them. They may refuse to go out at night, sleep with all the lights open, refuse to sleep on a bed, or avoid staying in rooms with a closet. These behaviors can trap sufferers in a cycle because of the positive feelings they encounter whenever they feel like they’ve successfully evaded the bogeyman. They then try to recreate these feelings by repeating the behaviors. If you think that you may have bogyphobia, think of how you feel or reflexively react whenever the bogeyman is mentioned or comes into your mind. Do you feel extremely anxious, fearful, or upset? Have you been experiencing such anxiety for at least six months? If you’ve been haunted by the thought of the bogeyman for six months or more and have little control over your response, there’s a good chance you have bogyphobia.
Let’s take a look at the symptoms starting with the physical ones.
● Cold/hot flashes
● Excessive sweating
● Dry mouth
● Muscle tension
● Excess anxiety when thinking about the bogeyman
● Panic attacks
● Incapacity to manage anxiety
● Fear of imminent harm or danger
● Rapid heartbeat
● Avoiding situations where you think you might encounter the bogeyman
Regardless of how long you’ve been suffering or how intense your phobia is, there are things you can do to regain control of the situation. Treatments generally fall under two categories: self-help and professional treatment. You may opt to try self-help tactics if your phobia isn’t too intense or you don’t have access to or resources for a professional. There’s no one right way to treat bogyphobia, however, whichever way you decide to go about it, you need to stick to it. Persistent and consistent commitment are the keys to eradicating bogyphobia.
Exposure therapy involves gradual exposure to the object of your fear over a given period. This is generally done with a therapist, however, if you feel you can handle it on your own, it can be a powerful tool for overcoming phobias. To perform exposure therapy for bogyphobia, you can start by identifying an avoidance behavior that you would like to change and use that as a treatment milestone. This could be sleeping at night with all the lights closed if that is a struggle for you. You can start “exposing” yourself to the bogeyman by reading about it a little at a time until you become desensitized to it. Eventually, you can try sleeping with a night light on until the time comes when you’re ready to sleep in total darkness.
Decreased Caffeine Consumption
Caffeine is notorious for increasing anxiety. It can cause rapid heart rate and muscle tension. Consuming minimal or no caffeine might help decrease anxiety. By being more conscious of your caffeine consumption you can decrease some of bogyphobia’s associated symptoms.
Cardiovascular exercise can alleviate one’s stress considerably. It’s been demonstrated to be an efficient means of releasing endorphins, those feel-good hormones. Exercise works by conditioning the mind to cope with stressful situations better. This makes sense when you consider the degree of stress the body undergoes during strenuous exercise. You might want to engage in some type of aerobic exercise to help cope with bogyphobia symptoms better. Various aerobic activities like biking, swimming, and jogging can help decrease phobia symptoms.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga and meditation help because of their ability for misdirection. By mindfully focusing on your breath or yoga pose, you are diverting your attention towards less stressful thoughts.
Don’t expect instant results though. It will take some time before you start reaping the benefits. If your bogyphobia is severe, it may be better to have yoga and meditation as complementary therapies alongside other techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy. You may also wish to enroll in a class so they can guide you and help motivate you.
If you have access to professional treatment, it’s always the better option because you’ll be under the guidance of someone who studied and prepared to treat people with phobias. Here are a few of the professional treatments available for phobias like bogyphobia.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT allows sufferers to gain a better understanding of their behavior and thought patterns surrounding their fears. In many cases, a lack of introspection is the reason for people’s fears. CBT can help sufferers take a step back, understand their fears on a deeper level, and address them.
Exposure therapy is best done under the supervision of a professional. It is one of the most effective ways of tackling and getting over fears. However, a therapist needs to be trained in exposure therapy so that he or she can administer the right level of exposure. If it is too little, desensitization doesn’t get built up. If it is too much, it could be overly traumatic and lead the patient to abandon treatment.
Can I Avoid Bogyphobia?
Phobias, like most matters of the mind, are difficult to altogether avoid. Since they can be caused by genetics, personal experiences, and the way we were conditioned while growing up, there isn’t really a way to consciously avoid them. Most fears creep up on us until our anxiety levels just one day surprise us with their intensity. What we can control is what we do once we realize that we’re in the grip of a phobia like bogyphobia. While it’s possible to do nothing about it, it’s better to confront the issue head-on and look for treatment.
Conclusion: Be Patient and Diligent During Treatment
Just as no one plans to have bogyphobia, no one can decide to just suddenly get rid of it. You can, however, seek treatment for it. The best therapy is usually one that combines self-help and professional treatment so that your recovery is as holistic as possible. If you suffer from bogyphobia, be patient with yourself and be diligent with your treatment plan. Eventually, you will see results and reclaim your life.