Phobias Types Could You Have Samhainophobia or the Fear of Halloween? It's not a trick or a treat, this phobia is very real! By Lisa Fritscher Lisa Fritscher Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer and editor with a deep interest in phobias and other mental health topics. Learn about our editorial process Updated on March 06, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by David Susman, PhD Medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD David Susman, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with experience providing treatment to individuals with mental illness and substance use concerns. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Anton Petrus / Getty Images Halloween is often intentionally scary, and it can feel downright overwhelming for those with samhainophobia, or the fear of Halloween. Defined as a persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of Halloween, samhainophobia is a term rooted in ancient pagan traditions, particularly those of the Celtic Druids. The festival of Samhain was celebrated as early as 2,000 years ago to mark the night before the Celtic New Year. October 31, the last day of the Celtic year, was seen as a time when the veil between the living and the dead was thin, and ghosts could walk among the living for both good and evil. The Samhain festival was centered around massive bonfires, ritual sacrifices to the gods, and fortune-telling. Participants generally wore costumes made from animal skins. The Reason for the Fear of Witchcraft in History and Modern Times What Causes Samhainophobia? While samhainophobia is not a distinct diagnosis in the DSM-5, the fear of Halloween may meet the diagnostic criteria for a specific phobia. Specific phobias involve an irrational and excessive fear that is related to a specific object or situation. The causes samhainophobia may, therefore, be similar to the causes of other kinds of specific phobias. The exact causes of specific phobias are not known but previous frightening experiences, genetics, and brain chemistry may play a contributing role. The holiday's pagan roots and traditional association with ghosts and witchcraft may contribute to the fear of Halloween. For others, modern Halloween traditions may be a source of fear. Some people genuinely do not enjoy the feeling of being startled or scared, yet modern Halloween traditions rely on scares as a major portion of the evening's entertainment. Even if you skip the haunted attractions, ghost stories, and other obviously-frightening events, people may try to startle you at costume parties and other Halloween get-togethers. For some people, the fear of Halloween is based on other specific phobias. Ghosts, witches, vampires, zombies, blood, gore, darkness, lightning, masks, animatronics, tombstones, clowns, and loud noises are just a few of the basic Halloween staples. If you have a phobia of these or other relatively common elements, you may be triggered even by small children who are trick-or-treating in costumes and makeup. How Does Religion Cause Different Phobias? Overcoming the Fear of Halloween Working through the fear of Halloween is important, as it is one of the biggest holidays in the United States. Those who fear the holiday may have difficulty at work or school events as well as social activities. But how to cope with the fear depends on a variety of factors, including the nature of your phobia, its severity, and your personal triggers. If your fear is relatively mild, you may be able to combat it with basic coping techniques. These may include: Visualizing yourself successfully making it through a feared eventBreathing purposefully or mindfully to calm your nervesAttending Halloween festivities with a supportive friend or relative to lower anxiety levels If your fear is more severe, however, professional assistance may be required. Your therapist will help you determine exactly what you're afraid of, and create a treatment plan to work through your fears. Therapeutic approaches such as systematic desensitization are generally very effective in treating specific phobias. Those with severe religion-based phobias might do well to seek spiritual counseling from a trusted religious leader—either instead of, or in addition to, professional therapy. The good news: Although the fear of Halloween can feel isolating and overwhelming, the phobia generally responds well to therapeutic techniques. 1 Source Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Samra CK, Abdijadid S. Specific Phobia. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. Additional Reading History of Halloween. History.com. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author. By Lisa Fritscher Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer and editor with a deep interest in phobias and other mental health topics. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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