The Fear of Phobias Is Phobophobia

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The fear of phobias is phobophobia. This anxiety disorder can lead to a self-replicating cycle, ultimately resulting in escalating circular fears.

Some people with phobophobia already have one or more existing phobias, while others are afraid that they might develop one. Phobophobia is often, but not always, linked to other anxiety disorders.

Phobophobia With an Established Phobia

If you already have an established phobia, you may be at greater risk of developing phobophobia. This is because a common symptom of any phobia is anticipatory anxiety, which causes increasing fear in the days or weeks leading up to a planned confrontation with the object of fear.

Therefore, you may begin to dread not only your original trigger but also your own reaction to it. Over time, this dread can worsen and develop into phobophobia.

Phobophobia Without an Established Phobia

It is possible to develop phobophobia even if you never had an actual phobia. For example, you can worry that you will develop a phobia of something you love, or that you will develop a phobic reaction that limits your daily activities.

Phobophobia is an anxiety disorder rooted in the basic fear of developing an illness. Once you understand that phobias are a life-limiting condition, it's not difficult to understand that a phobia could become the object of fear.

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Phobophobia is interesting in that it is one of the only disease fears that can actually lead to the feared outcome. While the fear of cancer (carcinophobia) does not increase the odds of developing it, the fear of phobias can lead to a phobia.

How does that happen? You gradually limit your activities in an ever-increasing attempt to minimize your exposure to fearful reactions. Over time, this can lead to agoraphobia. If your fear centers around a specific object or situation, you might gradually develop a phobia of that object or situation.

Understanding Phobophobia

Like all phobias, phobophobia is an exaggerated fear response. While in other phobias, the irrationally heightened response focuses on a specific object or situation, in phobophobia, the fear is of the fear response itself.

If you have phobophobia, you are likely the opposite of an adrenaline junkie. Rather than experiencing a thrill when facing your fears, you may go out of your way to avoid any situation that causes heightened anxiety.

This self-protective instinct can have devastating effects on your work or school life, causing you to minimize risks that could lead to great rewards. It can also have an impact on your social life by leading you to avoid situations that you perceive as anxiety-inducing.


Phobophobia typically responds well to standard phobia treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and hypnosis. However, since phobophobia is often linked to other anxiety disorders, it is important to simultaneously treat all conditions.

Your therapist will carefully diagnose all applicable disorders and create a customized treatment plan that meets your unique needs. Phobophobia can be difficult to manage, but with proper treatment there is no reason for it to limit your life.

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