Fear of the Pope(Papaphobia): Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Among all the strange phobias, Papaphobia or fear of the PopePope tops the list. This is not a joke: in fact, extreme fear of the authority of the PopePope or papacy may sound strange and even shocking, but it does exist. The world’s Papaphobia originates from the Greek word for father, popes.

Papaphobia can sometimes be closely related to Ecclesiophobia – the deep-seated fear of the Church. Such anxiety could prevent the sufferer from entering the Church or attending funerals and weddings. However, fear of pope phobia may not interfere with a person’s daily life; the thought of the PopePope or even a mention of Him can be enough to trigger a panic attack in the patient.

You can also read: Fear of Kissing: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, Therapies

Causes of Papaphobia

  • There are hundreds of phobias, and most of their causes are the same or similar.
  • However, if you ask different psychiatrists what the cause of a particular phobia is and you will most likely hear other theories.
  • Most experts disagree on a single cause of a particular phobia; They feel that the causes of phobias differ depending on the patient’s brain chemistry, genetic makeup, and environment.
  • That said, most phobias arise from learned behavior. A person learns to be afraid of an individual or an object probably because he associates feelings of anxiety, tension, stress, or fear with that individual or entity.
  • The PopePope is an authority figure.
  • He is believed to be the successor of Saint Peter, who was given the keys to Heaven by the Lord Jesus Himself.
  • The papacy is a prominent institution that has played a vital role in shaping history.
  • This authority or the powers vested in PopePope can be scary for children.
  • The PopePope also wears a white cassock with a huge hat and crown that could be terrifying to young children.
  • Most children get over their fears, but sometimes, the anxiety can persist into adulthood.
  • Phobias can also develop due to association conditioning.
  • Specific adverse events experienced by an individual in the presence of the PopePope could trigger the phobia.

Papaphobia can also occur because the sufferer tries to avoid this authority figure.

  • The mind of the phobic triggers the symptoms of anxiety which he then tries to avoid thinking that the symptoms will disappear simply by avoiding the object of fear.
  • This develops a total phobia.
  • Childhood traumas linked directly or indirectly to the Church or the papacy can also cause extreme anxiety for PopePope.

Symptoms of fear of the PopePope

Those who have Papaphobia may experience different symptoms based on the degree of their phobia. Typically, the following symptoms can be observed:

  • Feeling of suffocation
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Feeling faint
  • Fear of not being able to speak and of embarrassing himself
  • The blank mind
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Shaking chills
  • Feeling of unreality
  • Chest pain
  • Scared of going crazy
  • Sweating

Treatment of Papaphobia

  • If fear of pope phobia interferes with your life, you should seek therapy to treat it.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy is a treatment option that focuses on helping to change thought patterns to reduce distress and anxiety.
  • The psychotherapy group can also help where individuals share their experiences and, in the process, understand and recover from their phobia.
  • In the case of specific phobias like Papaphobia, desensitization therapy can also help.
  • The emotional and behavioral response to the object of fear, in this case, the fear of the PopePope, is often a learned response.
  • This can be altered through gradual exposure to the fear object that helps individuals change and replace their response using proper forms of reaction through new learning.
  • Medications can also be used to treat anxiety caused by Papaphobia.
  • However, medications should be used in moderation, as many of them are habit-forming and have side effects.
  • Self-help therapy can also be helpful. It should be used in combination with other medicines along with written materials that can help you manage anxiety.


Georgia Tarrant
 | Website

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.