Antropophobia, in other words the “fear of people” is a social phobia that mainly affects teenagers transiently. Withdrawal, great shyness, anxiety at the idea of interacting with others… Its symptoms can be very impacting on a daily basis. How to take care of them and gradually reconnect with others?
Definition: what is anthropophobia?
As stated earlier, anthropophobia (from the Greek anthropowhich means man and phobiawhich means “fear”) refers to the pathological fear of people and their company. It manifests as the need to avoid all social interactions and the irrational/uncontrollable fear of interacting with people.
Although not recognized as a clinical disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders mental (DSM-5), it presents many characteristics of specific phobia. This is why we speak of social phobia, with the nuance that, unlike other social anxiety disorders, anthropophobia is fear of the people themselves, not of social situations.
Anthropophobia or misanthropy?
Anthropophobia and misanthropy are often associated, but nevertheless present a major difference: misanthropy is rather relative to a moral and philosophical position which consists in loathing humanity. We cannot therefore speak of phobia in the strict sense, since it is a conscious position, unlike anthropophobia, characterized by irrational and uncontrollable reactions.
People with anthropophobia feel constant worry and anxiety about someone interacting with them and invading their personal space. These people therefore isolate themselves much more than normal people. If necessary, they feel great physical discomfort, which can be manifested by:
In adolescents, it can quickly become insurmountable and turn into school phobia : they can no longer follow their lessons and communicate with other students. All against a backdrop of anticipatory anxiety and depressive symptoms. The main consequence of this social phobia is therefore isolation and harmful withdrawal into oneself. A vicious circle then sets in, especially in the school environment: the more the adolescent isolates himself, the more he/she is stigmatized by others and rejected.
Causes of anthropophobia: why be so afraid of people?
The causes of anthropophobia are sometimes difficult to identify. This phobia can be explained by one (or more) past trauma(s), experienced in childhood (a single bad experience is sometimes enough to cause anthropophobic symptoms). Humiliation, bullying, intimidation and betrayal can lead to emotional traumaproblems of self-confidence and practices of social eviction.
The same methods can be used as for many phobias:
- cognitive-behavioral approaches, including ericksonian hypnosis and the Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP);
- if the person has identified the event at the origin of his phobia, he can call on EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing);
- finally, the psychoanalysis can help to understand the source of the phobia and give the person who suffers from it the necessary weapons to reconnect with the outside world.