Understanding Megalophobia or the Fear of Large Objects

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Megalophobia is the fear of large objects. The object in question can run the gamut from large ships to airplanes and large animals to towering sculptures. It is different for everyone and there is treatment available to help you deal with this phobia.

The Full Scope of Megalophobia

If you experience megalophobia, you may be afraid of very large animals such as whales or elephants or enormous trees like sequoias or redwoods. Your phobia may be reserved for massive man-made objects like ships and blimps or stationary objects such as huge buildings, sculptures, and statues.

Having these phobias can greatly limit your social interactions. It's imperative that you understand your phobia and get the help you need to overcome it. Let's take a look at the reality behind the illusion.

Understanding Megalophobia

This phobia of large objects is usually associated with objects that are larger than the actual object they are representing. It might be a larger-than-life sculpture of a person from history or an animal that does not fit the typical size we associate with the species. For people with megalophobia, these abnormal sizes create a genuine feeling of fear where others may only be in awe at the size.

A perfect example is the fear of gigantic animals. The giant squid has been a part of mythology and lore since the earliest days of sailing ships. Legends abound of sailors who were lost to the monsters of the deep.

It is likely that in the days before modern navigational systems, many of those ships were simply run aground or dashed against the rocks. Still, the rumors persisted, though many believed that the giant squid was just a myth. The first photos of a live giant squid were finally obtained in 2004. In the 1950s, comic books and science fiction were huge trends, particularly among teenage boys.

It is easy to imagine how an obsession with the giant squid could develop into a full-blown phobia. Even today, phobias of giant “killer” animals persist and are exploited in such films as Jaws and Anaconda.

Treatment

While Freudian psychoanalysis and behaviorism were strong in the '50s, humanism and cognitive approaches to psychotherapy were also beginning to take hold.

Today, the treatment of phobias tends to fall into one of a few recognized categories. The most common is cognitive behavioral therapy, in which the person is encouraged to replace phobic thoughts with more rational ones and various exposure strategies are employed.

A psychotherapist may literally walk someone through what they fear about large objects. In the process, they try to help the person understand rationally why that fear may be unfounded. The goal is then to work through a more realistic perspective of their fears and face situations that the phobia has caused the person to avoid.

This can be approached through systematic desensitization, a more gradual set of exposure techniques, or flooding, in which the client is quickly exposed to the feared object. At no time is the client placed in any danger.

If you have a phobia of large objects or animals, it is important to seek treatment. With proper treatment, most phobias can be cured or managed, but over time untreated phobias tend to worsen. See your doctor or mental health professional develop a personalized treatment plan.

If you or a loved one are struggling with megalophobia, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

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  3. Exposure Therapies for Specific Phobias. Society of Clinical Psychology. Div12.org. Published 2020.