Hormephobia: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

This phobia develops in people who fear the possibility of experiencing scares or strong emotions.


There are as many phobias as there are objects or situations in the world … which means that there are countless disparate, particular and even “rare” phobias that most of us have never heard of. In this article we bring you one of them: hormephobia.

It is the phobia of experiencing a very strong emotion, a shock, a very extreme fright or a deep state of shock, which in turn, can be caused by an infinite number of factors. So, let’s see what this phobia consists of, what are its peculiarities, its symptoms, causes and possible treatments to apply.

Hormephobia: what is it?

The word hormephobia comes from the Greek terms “ormao”, which means “to excite”, and “phobia”, which means “fear”. Thus, it is translated as a phobia of different stimuli, such as a state of shock, shocks, impressions, shocks and scares.

It is also related to the fear of strong emotions or everything that can “excite” us excessively. It is, therefore, a specific phobia and therefore an anxiety disorder, classified as such in the DSM-5 reference manual (Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

Its origin may be related to the deepest fear of losing control or mentally collapsing until you lose your nerves.

Thus, it is a curious phobia, because it is related to different states of the same “spectrum”. All of them, however, have to do with suffering some kind of emotionally charged event.

Phobic object / stimulus

From this phobia we highlight the particularity of its phobic object / stimulus since, as we have seen, it can be quite different in nature (although they all share the fact that they can cause a strong, generally negative emotion). So, can emotions be feared? As hormephobia shows, and although it sounds a bit strange, yes.

Thus, there are people who would feel a real panic at the possibility of experiencing strong emotions, whether through a traumatic event, an extreme situation, suffering a shock, a blow, a fright, a surprise, a shock … the possibilities They are infinite, so during the treatment of hormephobia (and as we will see later), it will be vitally important to specify the phobic object well.

There will be patients who fear “everything” (understanding “everything” as any event or object that can provoke a strong emotion), and others who only fear shocks, for example, and logically the treatment in each case will be different.

Relationship with amaxophobia

Amaxophobia is the phobia of driving; So, does hormephobia have any relation to this other phobia? It could be, since in both there may be the fear of having a crash, for example while driving.

In other words, both could appear comorbidly, although they should be treated independently (taking into account, of course, that they can coexist).


Like any specific phobia, hormephobia presents a series of different clinical manifestations. Let’s see what are the symptoms of hormephobia.

1. Intense, irrational and disproportionate fear

Remember that phobias are characterized, mainly, by a fear that has three particularities: it is an intense fear, irrational (generally the patient himself recognizes that his phobia is irrational) and disproportionate (although in “normal” conditions the phobic stimulus can cause fear, the symptoms it causes exceed those expected by the nature of the stimulus).

Fear is an altered reaction of the organism to the possibility of suffering harm ; fears are frequent and “normal”, and most of them are evolutionary (they have allowed us to adapt to the environment and survive). However, when that reaction is disproportionate and irrational and also interferes in our day to day life, we speak of a phobia, as is the case of hormephobia.

2. Psychophysiological symptoms

Beyond the fear of the possibility of suffering a shock, a strong emotion, a trauma or a fright, other associated symptoms appear in hormephobia, triggered by that intense fear. These symptoms are psychophysiological, that is, they cover two aspects: the psychological part (the pisque) of the person and the physiological (physical) part.

Examples of these symptoms are: nausea, dizziness, feeling of suffocation, tachycardia, sweating, tension, pressure in the chest, migraines, panic attacks … In the case of hormephobia, all these symptoms are triggered by the possibility of being in contact with the phobic stimulus, that is, with the possibility of experiencing a state of shock, suffering a strong shock, etc.

They can also appear in the imagination of one of these situations.

3. Upset and interference

In order to diagnose a specific phobia, it is necessary that the above symptoms cause significant discomfort in the patient and / or interference in their day-to-day work, academic, personal, social. ..


The most likely cause of suffering hormephobia is having previously suffered a state of shock or great shock due to a certain life event. The fact of having experienced such a situation can cause a strong fear of experiencing it again, which ends up causing hormephobia.

So, the main cause is a traumatic event, as is the case in most phobias. In addition, we must bear in mind that we are facing a very particular phobia, since the phobic object of hormephobia itself can already be a traumatic situation, which does not happen with most other phobias (for example, being afraid of clowns , to the costumes, to the heights …).


In the psychological field, the treatment of hormephobia is based, as in all specific phobias, on two main therapeutic options: exposure therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

1. Exposure therapy

In this case, the patient with hormephobia will be exposed to the phobic stimulus gradually, through a hierarchy of items.

First, it will be necessary to identify very well (specify it very specifically) what it is that causes fear in the patient; if it is about the possibility of suffering a blow, a concussion, a state of shock … and based on this, elaborate the hierarchy. In the first items, items that cause little anxiety should be placed, in order to gradually incorporate more and more intense items into the scale.

2. Cognitive-behavioral therapy

In the case of cognitive-behavioral therapy, its objective is to replace negative, irrational and catastrophic thoughts associated with the phobic stimulus, such as: “I will lose control”, “I will hurt myself”, “I will have a terrible time”, “I will become crazy “,” I will not know how to react “, etc., by others more functional, adaptive and realistic.

These other thoughts can be, for example: “I don’t have to suffer a concussion if I go out on the street”, “if I hurt myself, they can help me”, “I don’t have to lose control”, “I don’t have to suffer a commotion ”, etc.

Bibliographic references:

  • American Psychiatric Association -APA- (2014). DSM-5. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Madrid: Panamericana.
  • Pérez, M., Fernández, JR, Fernández, C. and Amigo, I. (2010). Guide to effective psychological treatments I and II :. Madrid: Pyramid.

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