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    Vitricophobia – Fear of Stepfathers

    Fear of the Wicked Stepfather – Vitricophobia

    Have you ever felt stressed at the mention of stepparents, particularly a stepfather? Do you try to avoid films, books, or even social situations where they may be present?


    Do you feel physically uncomfortable, mentally distressed, or generally disgusted at the mere thought of a stepfather?


    If that is the case, then you may be experiencing what is known as vitricophobia, or a fear of stepfathers. It may not be popular on the list of phobias, but vitricophobia is a real condition.


    Feeling the way you do may be perplexing or frustrating. But don’t worry. Understanding your fear will help you cope better.


    Understanding Vitricophobia: What Is Stepfather Phobia All About?

    Vitricophobia is an anxiety disorder that leads to an intense and irrational fear or phobia of stepfathers.


    The phobia manifests in different ways and may cause you to have nightmares, feel anxious or uncomfortable, experience panic attacks, or simply avoid stepfathers altogether.


    This overwhelming feeling of discomfort, stress, or anxiety related to a stepfather can stem from various factors. Vitricophobia causes may include your personal experience or the negative experience of someone close to you. The general cultural beliefs and negative stereotypes surrounding stepfathers may also cause it.


    Vitricophobia may have roots in a variety of different influences. For example, you may have viewed pop culture media depicting stepfathers as evil and conniving, articles covering abusive stepfathers, and more.


    Though you may not run away screaming and crying when experiencing vitricophobia, it can still be a distressing experience, no matter what the underlying cause.


    This is especially true considering how common divorce is and how children involved in divorce are affected by it. The involvement of stepparents in the family unit may cause major disruptions in a child’s life which can lead to vitricophobia that persists even into adulthood.


    Vitricophobia Symptoms

    Phobia and anxiety tend to have similar symptoms regardless of their causes. Your experience with the distress associated with vitricophobia may look different from someone else’s—it’s all highly subjective. Read on for common symptoms of vitricophobia.


    Psychological Symptoms

    If you feel triggered, you may feel irritable, snappy, or stressed. That’s not all. You might experience other symptoms, such as:

    • Fear of losing control
    • Withdrawing emotionally and mentally
    • Dissociating or disconnecting from reality
    • Feeling sad or hopeless
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Confusion
    • Anger or mood swings
    • An overwhelming sense of dread or impending doom
    • A feeling of guilt or shame
    • Hypervigilance


    You will most likely experience both physical and psychological symptoms simultaneously.


    Physical Symptoms

    Although it stems from an internal feeling of disgust, discomfort, or distress, vitricophobia can physically manifest in the following ways that are comparable to a panic attack:

    • Sweating
    • Racing pulse
    • Hot flashes
    • Chills
    • Trembling
    • Shortness of breath
    • Tightness in the chest
    • Headaches and dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Dry mouth
    • Hyperventilation
    • Rise in blood pressure
    • Ringing in the ears
    • Increase in bowel movements
    • Numbness of pins and needles
    • Confusion or disorientation


    These symptoms may occur suddenly and without any warning. In fact, a stepfather doesn’t need to be on the scene for you to feel a sense of panic.


    Self-Help Methods to Cope with Vitricophobia

    One of the best ways to deal with a phobia of any type, especially something as subjective as vitricophobia, is to try to reduce the intensity of your response to the trigger.


    Regulating your nervous system can be a very effective way to reduce the psychological effects of vitricophobia. This way, you can manage a trigger and bounce back without long-term dysregulation, as that may last days or even weeks.


    This can include simple things such as:

    • Practicing yoga to stay grounded and get back in touch with your body
    • Meditating to process your emotions and feel more in control of the situation
    • Journaling to sort out your thoughts and put them into words, so you feel less overwhelmed
    • Saying affirmations to remind yourself that you are safe and secure and your stepfather cannot hurt you, in case you’re a survivor of abuse
    • Reading positive literature and exposing yourself to pop culture that depicts stepfathers in a positive light to help you change your perception of them


    Being able to help yourself is crucial, as there are sure to be times when you cannot access professional help. When that happens, it’s good to know ways to self-soothe to get through a difficult situation.


    A few minutes of regulation can help strengthen your nervous system against triggers and improve your resilience against your phobia. This way, you can bounce back from a triggering situation with ease.

     Professional Help for Vitricophobia Treatment

    You may think avoiding the object of your phobia is an effective way to reduce its effect on your life. However, if you have regular interaction with a stepfather, you may continue to feel discomfort until you seek professional treatment. A therapist may utilize one or more treatment methods to help you overcome your fear. Here are two examples:


    Exposure Therapy

    This involves gradual and repeated exposure to the source of your phobia and the related thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Over time, your mind and body build stronger defenses and become more resilient against the trigger.


    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be very helpful, as it will help you realize that a particular situation or person is not inherently dangerous. This will allow you to gradually manage and control your fear and anxiety when exposed to stepfathers.

    You can speak to a therapist, and they will help you address how you approach triggering situations and also how you change your perception of them.


    How to Avoid Vitricophobia?

    In most cases, you can’t really avoid a phobia. They tend to develop on their own because of experiences, perceptions, and anxiety. However, you can reduce your risk of developing extreme vitricophobia by taking some measures, such as:

    • Being aware of your beliefs and thoughts of stepfathers and challenging those which seem irrational or overtly negative
    • Talking to a mental health professional to try to prevent developing vitricophobia if you have a history of fear-related or anxiety disorders
    • Try to focus on positive representations of stepfathers to reduce the perception of the “evil stepfather” stereotype.
    • Educate yourself about healthy blended families and how they function



    Vitricophobia can be a severe anxiety disorder and may impact your mental and emotional well-being. Thankfully, there are treatment options available to help you manage your fear of stepfathers.

    With the right support and proper treatment, you can overcome your phobia and live a healthy, balanced life! is looking for personal stories of any "fear of" or phobia. If you have an interesting story you'd like to share, we welcome your submission. If the story fits with our content and guidelines, we'll add it to our site.

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