Fear of Hospitals – Nosocomophobia is the extreme fear of hospitals. It is a fairly common phobia; many people (including United States President Richard Nixon) are known to suffer from it. Nixon’s comment that “if I go to a hospital, I’m pretty sure I won’t get out of it alive” is well known.
Nosocomephobia is derived from Greek and Latin words. In Greek, ‘noses’ means diseases, while ‘you eat’ means consequences or companion in Latin. Nosokomein is also the Greek word for the hospital. The phobias closely related to Nosocomofobia include hemophobia or ” fear of blood ” or iatrofobia -the fear of doctors, mysophobia -the fear of germs, thanatophobia-the fear of death and trypanophobia – the fear of needles.
To some extent, we are all afraid of hospitals, especially emergency rooms. Hospitals not only mean sickness, pain, blood, sickness, or death, but they are also often costly. Visiting a hospital means dealing with an illness – yours or someone else’s.
Typically, we all find a way to deal with the anxiety of visiting a hospital. Most people understand that it is a medical need and that one has no choice but to overcome it. However, in the case of nosocomophobia, the patient refuses to go to a hospital, which often has very negative consequences, including death, especially in the case of life-threatening conditions/events.
A Nosocomephobe experiences a panic attack with the naked eye or even thinks of visiting a hospital. As a result, he refuses to enter one. Although most realize that their fear is irrational, they feel pretty powerless to overcome it.
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Causes of nosocomophobia
- The fear of hospital phobia is often rooted in the phobic past. A negative or traumatic event associated with hospitals is the most likely reason behind this phobia.
- Death, news of the passing of a loved one, diagnosis of a life-threatening illness of oneself or a loved one could have occurred in hospitals and could have been traumatic for the phobia.
- Your brain then conditions the same response over and over each time you have to deal with a hospital.
- Hospitals are also known to be “German” places: people cough, sneeze, vomit, etc.
- Misophobics – people who have an extreme fear of germs or acquiring contagious diseases – tend to fear hospitals.
Hospitals are often vivid reminders that life is short and that everyone dies at one point or another.
- This can be a scary and “unwieldy” prospect for some people.
- The fear of hospitals could also be related to more prosaic issues: they usually have a particular antiseptic odor; wedges, backless hospital gowns, sick roommates, etc.
- Often one is out of control and entirely at the mercy of the doctors and nurses.
- One could have felt humiliated or “unworthy” in a hospital. Nurses and doctors keep coming and going at odd hours.
- These may be some minor issues that can still strengthen the fear of hospitals.
- News, media reports, or movies / TV about hospital misfortunes can also trigger the phobia.
- Unfortunately, this concern is not entirely baseless – today, medical malpractice and mistakes have become pretty routine occurrences.
- Even advanced countries have mistakenly administered the wrong drugs/treatments/procedures despite their best efforts.
- For people with nervous mentality or adrenal insufficiency or those who already suffer from other phobias, these reports can induce a permanent fear of hospitals.
Symptoms of Nosocomophobia
The symptoms of fear of hospital phobia vary depending on the intensity of the fear. Most people experience the following physical and emotional symptoms:
- Full-blown panic attack – run away, shake.
- Feeling nauseous
- Experience an elevated heart rate, shallow, rapid breathing
- Excessive sweating
- Avoidance behavior – refusing to go to the hospital – can often lead to severe consequences.
- Feeling uncontrollable anxiety – the phobic may feel detached from reality or feel like they are going completely insane.
Treating the fear of hospitals
- Like other phobias, nosocomphobia is also treated using a combination of medications, psychotherapy, and self-help techniques.
- To overcome extreme anxiety related to fear of hospitals, doctors may prescribe some anxiolytic medications, but long-term use is not recommended.
- Hypnotherapy and talk therapy are other measures proven to overcome the phobia. These help to get to the root of the fear and help the phobics rationalize it. Energy Psychology or “needleless acupuncture” is a modern therapy used to overcome Nosocomophobia. It enables the patient to feel more in control and change their response to fear.
- Other mentionable treatments to overcome nosocomophobia include NLP or neuro-linguistic reprogramming and systematic desensitization therapies.
- Self-help techniques like yoga and meditation can also be used in conjunction with these therapies to overcome the fear of hospitals.
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.