This type of phobia is rare, but no less harmful in natural environments.
Human beings can feel fear for a great variety of objects or situations, a reaction that can be normal as long as this fear is objective and realistic. However, there are times when a person may feel a great fear of seemingly harmless things, such as anthophobia, the irrational fear of flowers.
In this article we will delve into the most characteristic aspects of this disorder and review what its causes, symptoms and consequences are.
What is anthophobia
Perhaps anthophobia is not one of the best known phobias, but it is one of the most curious. This pathology is an intense and irrational fear of flowers, which are stimuli that represent little or no real danger. This, on the other hand, is something that happens with all phobias: even if they cannot explain why, the person develops an irrational fear of elements that are harmless in principle. The cause of this has to do with the functioning of emotional memory, as we will see.
With the exception of those individuals who may suffer from allergies, the majority of the population should not fear the reproductive apparatus of most plants; however, some subjects fear flowers, and this disorder can be truly disabling for them.
Phobias belong to the group of anxiety disorders and, therefore, one of the most characteristic symptoms that subjects with this condition experience are anxiety and anguish (in addition to fear). Phobics tend to avoid the feared stimulus in an attempt to reduce the discomfort. Fortunately, and despite the great suffering that this phobia can cause, anthophobia has a cure.
Causes of this phobia
People who develop a phobia were not born with this disorder, they have learned it. In most cases, this occurs implicitly after a traumatic experience that causes intense negative emotions. Phobias are learned by classical conditioning.
Classical conditioning is a type of learning that occurs by the association of a stimulus that is originally neutral with another that causes a fear response. A person may have had a negative experience when running through a garden full of flowers, and the impact of this situation causes that the next times that he comes across a flower he develops great anxiety and a disproportionate fear of the seemingly harmless situation.
- If you want to know more about classical conditioning, you can read our article: ” Classical conditioning and its most important experiments “
They are also learned by observation
But experiencing a traumatic situation is not only the sole cause of the appearance of anthophobia, but phobias can appear vicarious conditioning. For example, when watching a scary movie in which roses appear in bloody scenes in the film. In this way, in our mind an association is created between a stimulus that initially did not have a very significant emotional charge (flowers) and another that produces aversion, so that perceiving the former makes us feel bad because of that ” emotional memory “.
Phobias do not respond to logical arguments, largely because the emotion of fear has to do with the primitive brain. In this sense, some experts affirm that phobias are produced by primary associations and have a survival function, not by cognitive associations.
Symptoms of fear of flowers
The symptoms of phobias appear when imagining or coming into contact with the stimulus, in this case, the flowers. Anxiety and avoidance of the stimulus are some of the most characteristic symptoms; however, the phobic experiences cognitive, behavioral, and physical symptoms.
The most characteristic cognitive symptoms are irrational fear, anguish, catastrophic thoughts, lack of concentration or confusion. It is also frequent that intrusive ideas are presented, and in general “mental images” that cause great discomfort and that appear in the consciousness in a disruptive way, without being able to do anything to avoid it.
Stimulus avoidance is the most characteristic behavioral symptom. As for the physical symptoms, we can highlight:
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid pulse
- Hyper sweating
- Dry mouth
Treatment of anthophobia
The cases of anthophobia are not very frequent, but they are those of phobic disorders in general. For this reason, there are many investigations that have been carried out in this line, which has allowed the development of very effective treatments to end these irrational fears. Thus, despite the fact that these diseases cause great suffering, the prognosis for patients is good.
When it comes to seeking help, the first step that many phobics take is to go to the family doctor, but the option is to receive treatment from a psychologist. There are many methods that work to treat phobias, but the best known and the one that seems to bring the best results is cognitive behavioral therapy. This form of therapy is made up of different techniques, among which the relaxation and breathing techniques and the exposure techniques stand out.
For the treatment of phobias , systematic desensitization is usually applied, which includes the two previous techniques, and gradually exposes the patient to the feared stimulus. Of course, before you must learn coping strategies such as relaxation and breathing techniques.
In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or acceptance and commitment therapy have also proven to be very effective. Both types of psychotherapy belong to third generation therapy.
- If you want to know more about third generation therapies, you can read our article: “ What are third generation therapies? “
The treatment of phobias today
In recent years, the development of new technologies has also allowed the treatment of phobias to be different, since now it is easier to create situations in which the person feels close to the phobic stimulus. In addition, this can be done in the consultation itself, where psychological intervention services are offered, in a controlled manner and with a professional supervising the process.
The emergence of virtual reality allowed the patient not to have to expose himself to the phobic stimulus, but to do so by simulating reality. Some psychologists use this technique with excellent results, which can also be found in mobile apps. You can read more about this in our article: “8 apps to treat phobias and fears from your smartphone”