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.

Triggers

There are a number of different things that can trigger feelings of fear and anxiety for a person who has megalophobia. Some people may experience symptoms in the presence of a wide variety of large objects, while others may only have these feelings when they are around specific triggers.

You may be afraid of very large animals, stationary objects, or massive man-made objects. Some common triggers include:

  • Airplanes
  • Blimps
  • Buildings
  • Buses
  • Construction equipment
  • Elephants
  • Enormous trees like sequoias or redwoods
  • Hills and mountains
  • Large bodies of water
  • Ships
  • Sculptures
  • Statues
  • Trains
  • Whales

Symptoms

The primary symptom of megalophobia is a fear of large objects or animals. In addition to experiencing fear in the presence of a large object, people may also have symptoms of:

  • Chest pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Feelings of panic
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating

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.

Causes

The exact causes of this phobia are not known. However, there are a number of different factors that can contribute to megalophobia.

Exaggerated Normal Fears

It's normal to have some level of fear or apprehension of things that seem overwhelming or threatening. For people with megalophobia, this fear becomes more severe than what other people normally experience.

Intimidating Size

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.

Media and Myths

Sometimes news stories or even legends can contribute to these fears. 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. In the 1950s, comic books and science fiction were huge trends, particularly among teenage boys. The first photos of a live giant squid were finally obtained in 2004.

It is easy to imagine how hearing such stories could contribute to a full-blown phobia. Even today, phobias of giant “killer” animals persist and are exploited in such films as Jaws and Anaconda.

Treatment

Today, the treatment of phobias tends to fall into one of a few recognized categories. Psychotherapy is the most common treatment, but medications may be used in some cases to help people with symptoms related to their phobia.

There are a few different psychotherapy approaches that can be effective in the treatment of specific phobias such as megalophobia.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

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.

Exposure Therapies

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.

A Word From Verywell

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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Article Sources
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  2. May J. Megalophobia: Fear of large thingsCallaloo. 2015;38(1):75-75. doi:10.1353/cal.2015.0005

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