Some People Have a Deep Fear of Smiles
Do smiles give you creeps, make you uneasy, remind you of devious people? Are your eyes always scrutinizing faces to check for the slightest sign of smiles or laughter? Do you fear smiles behind your back?
If yes, you may be suffering from the fear of smiles or smiling.
A person suffering from this fear will often find it extremely difficult to explain themselves. Not only do they fear that their phobia may not be real, but they would also constantly worry that people would make more fun of or mock them for their phobia.
It’s thus natural for people suffering from excessive fear of smiles to keep to themselves and avoid social situations. However, that is not a solution. Proper care and treatment can help you recover from this fear and live a fruitful and fulfilling life.
Excessive Fear of Smiles Explained
It is said laughter is the best medicine. But for some, it could be a disease.
While everyone loves laughing, no one likes being laughed at. But that is a normal reaction. However, when this develops into a fear that controls your behavior, it turns into a phobia.
So, what is the fear of smiles phobia name?
The excessive fear of smiles is real for many.
The phobia was very recently discovered by German psychoanalyst and psychotherapist Michael Titze in 1996. In his papers, Titze observed that his patients were most worried about being laughed at and would scan their environment for signs of ridicule and laughter. He noted that these patients considered themselves ridiculous and often developed psychosomatic disturbances such as lack of sleep.
Given how new the discovery of excessive fear of smiles is, this fear is yet to be included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and is not recognized in the official list of phobias. However, research on this phobia continues to present notable findings.
A person suffering from the phobia believes that all the laughter they hear is aimed at them. They experience a high amount of shame and anxiety and display social withdrawal, paranoia, sensitivity to offense, and fear of laughing. This often results in very low self-esteem and even antisocial behavior.
The excessive fear of smiles is associated with some clinical conditions like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Borderline Personality Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder. As patients suffering from these clinical issues recognize that they are different, they are always afraid of being mocked and ridiculed and may develop an excessive fear of smiles.
Excessive Fear of Smiles Potential Causes
While the exact cause of an excessive fear of smiles is not known, there are several factors that can contribute to a person developing this phobia.
It could occur if a person had an unhappy childhood without a supportive caregiver, or if, as a child or youth, their opinions and suggestions were not taken seriously. Experiencing bullying in school or even online can also lead to someone developing this phobia.
While it is less probable to develop the fear of smiling in adulthood, it is still possible. If a person went through a traumatic experience of being laughed at, one that they cannot overcome, they may develop a phobia.
A person’s own sense of humor also plays a huge role. For example, if someone is highly social, carefree, and takes comments jokingly, they are less likely to get affected compared to those who are very sensitive to comments and take them very personally.
On the other hand, a person with a history of mental illness is highly prone to developing phobias. The slightest of triggers like a passing joke can rile them up and gradually develop into a phobia.
Fear of Smiles Symptoms
A person suffering from this fear may experience a few or more symptoms depending upon the severity of their phobia.
- Aches and pains
- Prickly sensation
- Dry mouth
- Appearing cold and humorless
- Increased heart rate
- Panic attacks
- Antisocial behavior
- Feeling of shame
- Feeling of worthlessness
Excessive Fear of Smiles Treatment
There is no one proven treatment for this excessive fear, but there are a few things that can help you recover from your fear of laughter.
When dealing with an irrational fear, self-help can often be your best asset. Most patients recognize that their fears are irrational and working on acknowledging their illogical thought patterns helps them get better.
However, for people with this fear, many genuinely believe that they are being targeted and mocked. For such people, their fears are real and the traditional method of self-help will often be useless.
In such cases, they can work on their self-worth and realize that others’ comments are not their concern. They can try meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and relaxation techniques to calm themselves. These techniques will also help them calmly analyze a situation before reacting.
Reaching out to professionals and letting them properly diagnose and treat you is often the best way to overcome a phobia.
A professional therapist will be able to customize a proper treatment plan according to the severity of your phobia.
One or more of the following therapies can be used for the treatment for being terrified of smiles-smiling:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Exposure therapy
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
In rare cases, when the patient is suffering and talk therapies are not helping, the doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety and anti-depression drugs.
The drugs are only meant to suppress the symptoms and are not a cure for the deep fear of smiles. Their use is discontinued as soon as the patient starts responding to therapy.
Coping With The Fear of Smiles-Smiling
Living with this fear is very difficult. But for a sufferer, even sitting in a room full of people can be a challenge. Every time someone laughs, it’s like they are being personally attacked. Hence, they may skip school and only take jobs where there are very few employees.
The Excessive Fear of Smiles is thus a severe condition and you must never try to “live with it”.
Reach out to family, friends, and colleagues and let them know what you are going through. Try self-help techniques and consult a doctor for a complete recovery.
Excessive fear of smiles, the fear of smiles and laughter, can affect both your social and professional life. It can isolate you from others and make you a magnet for many other health issues. If you suspect you’re suffering from this phobia, make sure you reach out to loved ones or professionals so you can learn to overcome your fear and get better as soon as possible.