The Fear of Sharp Objects: Aichmophobia 101

Woman chopping nuts on a cutting board with a large knife

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Aichmophobia is the fear of sharp objects. This phobia of sharp things encompasses a wide range of specific fears. Some people are afraid of cutting or stabbing themselves, and others fear injuring someone else.

Trypanophobia, the fear of medical needles, is sometimes considered a subset of aichmophobia, but the two phobias are quite different. While those with aichmophobia are afraid of working with sharp tools, trypanophobia is specific to medical procedures.

Aichmophobia Triggers

Like all phobias, aichmophobia has different triggers in different people. Some people are afraid only of particularly sharp knives, such as chef knives or hunting knives. Some fear all knives. Others are afraid of pins and needles.

For example, sewing might trigger a fear of needles as a person visualizes needles piercing their skin. Some people fear all objects that they perceive as sharp, including umbrella points, paper clips and clothes hangers. In general, the worse the phobia, the more items that are perceived as triggers.

Aichmophobia and Cooking

Mageirocophobia, or the fear of cooking, is sometimes related to aichmophobia. It is difficult or impossible to prepare meals from scratch without using sharp knives. Ironically, this fear actually makes it more likely that you will cut yourself during the cooking process.

Many people with a fear of sharp knives attempt to chop vegetables or de-bone meat with a dull knife, vastly increasing the chances that the knife will catch or jump. People with this fear might also use knives incorrectly, believing that it is safer to hold the knife further back on its handle. This provides less control over the knife, again increasing the risk of injury.

Outlook

A fear of sharp objects may drastically limit your ability to perform common tasks of daily living because so many of them require sharp tools. Opening packages, making minor household repairs, sewing, and many craft projects often require the use of knives, scissors, or other sharp objects.

Aichmophobia can actually make tasks more dangerous, since people who are afraid of tools tend to wield them improperly.

Getting Help for Aichmophobia

Like all phobias, untreated aichmophobia tends to worsen over time. For example, a mild fear of very sharp knives might gradually grow to include knitting needles, then straight pins, and eventually scissors. With treatment, however, aichmophobia is generally easy to overcome.

Many people find that they can beat a mild fear through education and exposure. Learning proper knife skills, studying expert sewing videos, and working alongside a competent handyman can provide confidence.

If your fear is more severe, however, professional assistance may be required to treat the phobia. In most cases, specific phobias like aichmophobia respond well to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

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