Fear Of Sharks(Galeophobia): Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Fear of Sharks – Galeophobia or extreme fear of sharks probably conjures up images of the great white shark as depicted in Jaws, the famous blockbuster film known for its dramatic music and magnificent visual effects that exacerbated the fear of sharks. Sharks in the minds of your viewers. While most viewers tend to forget this fear of sharks, an oleophobic individual continues to experience it persistently and irrationally.

The word Galeophobia is coined from the Greek word “Galeos,” which means small sharks or dogfish (in particular, sharks with marks like those of a weasel), and “Phobos,” which means fear or deep fear. The term is used alternately for Ailurophobia (or fear of cats ) as Galeos is derived from glee, which means polecat or weasel-like animals. (Note that the fear of sharks is also called Selachophobia.

Those with this phobia are very afraid of approaching the oceans, lakes, rivers, ships, and boats or even visiting aquariums or zoos, even though sharks are safely restrained behind sturdy glass windows. In some cases, the fear is so bad that the individual faints at the mere image or word about sharks.

Causes of fear of sharks

As already mentioned, the media is the most likely cause of fear of sharks. Sharks are portrayed as vicious or dangerous creatures. Movies like Jaws (1975), Dark Tide (2011) and Deep Blue Sea (1999), etc., have depicted these creatures in a negative light.

I have a severe case of Selachophobia.

From the young age of 4, I have always had an extreme and irrational fear of sharks. I did not know the scientific term, however, until today. I have a panic attack. If I go to an aquarium, I have to drop the phone and turn my head….

The physical appearance of sharks is often considered to be scary. They have razor-sharp teeth and cold, emotionless eyes. Their tail fins (seen emerging from the water in the movies) are seen as “ominous.” For young children and anxious adults, these can conjure up terrifying images of bloodthirsty and violent creatures looking for human prey.

A traumatic past related to sharks (which has happened directly or indirectly to the victim) could also cause Galeophobia. However, it is usually the media reports of sightings of sharks, surfers, or swimmers being killed or bitten that trigger the exaggerated fear of sharks.

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Symptoms of Galeophobia

People with Gallophobia tend to experience intense panic or anxiety attacks at the mere mention or images of sharks. Below are the symptoms of fear of sharks:

  • An elevated heart rate
  • Shortness of breath, chest pains
  • Profuse sweating or shaking
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Experiencing deep mental anguish, dizziness, or fainting.

Many phobics also scream or close their eyes whenever there is an underwater scene in the movies. Some individuals show avoidance behavior; they refrain from connecting small outings to the sharks. This includes aquariums, theme parks like Sea World, beaches, rivers, zoos, etc. Many refuse to swim in the oceans or public pools, even though they are not remotely connected to sharks.

Treat and overcome the fear of sharks.

Galeophobia can be overcome in several ways. Many theme parks offer “swim with the sharks” programs to help sufferers cope with their fear. If this is too extreme, you can start small or gradually. This involves looking at photos of sharks or watching movies about them until one can progress to visiting places where sharks are available.

Talking to a psychoanalyst or hypnotherapist can also help you get to the root of your fear. In the same way, cognitive behavioral therapy can help identify why sharks are causing such intense anxiety in the phobic mind.

Educating yourself about sharks can go a long way toward overcoming shark phobia. Doctors and therapists mainly blame the media for exaggerating shark attack stories. In reality, sharks are not cold-blooded killers as they say; only 30 species of sharks in the world are dangerous or known to attack humans. Therefore, his Galeophobia, as his definition says, is unjustified.

Georgia Tarrant
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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.