The fear of being trapped, or cleithrophobia, is often confused with claustrophobia, which is the fear of closed spaces. Cleithrophobia is at the center of many winter-related worries due to the potential risk of being trapped under a blanket of snow or thin ice.
Many other events can trigger cleithrophobia, including being inadvertently locked in a bathroom or small room. The root word for this phobia comes from the Greek cleithro, which means to close or close.
Cleitrofobia vs. Claustrofobia
Claustrophobia can happen at any time. If you are claustrophobic, you may intend to enter a small space, such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) chamber or motion simulator, but have a panic attack before or during the experience. The specific focus of the phobia itself is the small space.
However, cleithrophobia is triggered by actual confinement in a small space. If you have cleithrophobia, you are often wholly comfortable entering small areas that you can leave to your heart’s content.
The specific focus of this phobia is being trapped, locked up, or otherwise unable to get out. Traumatic events that lead to this phobia include being trapped in a small tunnel or deep hole or being locked in a small space like a closet, an abandoned refrigerator, or the trunk of a car.
The difference between the two phobias is subtle but essential. However, it can be almost impossible to distinguish between them. Both of these phobias often cause anticipatory anxiety, in which you start to panic long before the actual event occurs.
Cleithrophobia can reflect claustrophobia if you see even a slight risk of being trapped in space. In the same way, claustrophobia often reflects cleithrophobia in the sense that many people with claustrophobia may feel trapped or locked in, even if they are free to leave.
The two phobias can even exist simultaneously. A trained mental health professional is needed to make the exact diagnosis for these reasons. Treatment of the two conditions is similar.
You may also be interested in reading: Fear Of Cats: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments.
Common triggers for cleithrophobia
In general, cleithrophobia is triggered by a lack of escape. Examples of common triggers include amusement park rides that use shoulder harnesses or other tight restraints, locked rooms, and MRI cameras.
Symptoms of the fear of getting trapped
The symptoms of cleithrophobia are similar to those of other specific phobias. If you have this fear, you could experience a panic attack when you feel trapped. Crying, yelling, physically spanking, freezing, and trying to run away are very common.
If you can’t get out of the situation, you may start to sweat profusely, feel your pulse increase, and develop symptoms of physical illness. You probably can’t think of anything other than the need to escape.
Coping with the situation and treatment
If your symptoms are severe or life-limiting, it is always best to consult a mental health professional. Systematic desensitization and other cognitive-behavioral techniques work very well with phobias but should not be tried without the help of a professional. However, people with milder symptoms sometimes find relief in various self-help techniques.
Leaving an escape route, such as opening the bathroom door or removing the locks from your bedroom, can help you feel calmer in many situations, but this is not always possible or practical. Although your family may understand this, you may not be able to avoid locked doors in public accommodations.
If you start to panic, try using intentional breathing or guided imagery to calm your anxiety. If you have a supportive friend or close relative, ask that person to talk calmly with you on light topics.
Some people find that the Stop! It helps control anxiety, while others find that it doesn’t work in the middle of a panic attack. This technique is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy to stop racing thoughts or obsessive worry.
When scary thoughts arise, you yell Stop. At first, you can do it aloud, but you will do it silently over time.
You should seek help if this phobia impacts employment, relationships, or the ability to enjoy a variety of social activities.
Although cleithrophobia is unpleasant, it usually responds well to various treatment methods. With hard work, you can get relief from this fear and enjoy more activities in your life without restrictions.
Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.