Hormephobia: symptoms, causes and treatment

There are as many phobias as objects or situations in the world … which causes an infinite number of disparate, particular and even “rare” phobias that most of us have never heard. In this article we bring you one of them: hormephobia .

It is about the phobia of experiencing a very strong emotion, a shock, a very extreme fright or a deep state of shock, which in turn can be caused by an infinite number of factors. So, let’s see what this phobia consists of, what are its particularities, its symptoms, causes and possible treatments to apply.

  • Related article: ” Types of phobias: exploring fear disorders

Hormephobia: what is it?

The word hormephobia comes from the Greek terms “ormao,” which means “to excite,” and “phobia,” which means “fear.” Thus, it translates as the phobia to different stimuli, such as a state of shock, shocks, impressions , shocks and scares.

It is also related to the fear of strong emotions or everything that can “excite” us in excess. It is therefore a specific phobia and therefore an anxiety disorder, classified as such in the reference manual DSM-5 (Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

Its origin may be related to the deepest fear of losing control or of mentally collapsing until you lose your nerve.

Thus, it is a curious phobia, because it relates to different states of the same “spectrum.” All of them, but, have to do with the fact of suffering some kind of emotionally charged event.

Object / phobic stimulus

From this phobia we highlight the particularity of its phobic object / stimulus since, as we have seen, it can be quite different in nature (although all share the fact that they can cause a strong, generally negative emotion). So, can emotions be feared? As the hormephobia shows, and although it sounds a bit strange, yes.

Thus, there are people who would feel a real panic at the possibility of experiencing strong emotions , whether through a traumatic event, an extreme situation, suffering a shock, a blow, a scare, a surprise, a shock … the possibilities they are infinite, so, during the treatment of hormephobia (and as we will see later), it will be vital to specify the phobic object well.

There will be patients who fear “everything” (understanding “everything” as any event or object that can cause a strong emotion), and others who only fear shocks, for example, and logically the treatment in each case will be different .

Relationship with amaxophobia

Amaxophobia is the phobia to drive; So, does hormephobia have any relation to this other phobia? It could be, since in both there may be fear of a crash, for example while driving.

That is, both could appear in a comorbid way, although they should be treated independently (taking into account, of course, that they can coexist).

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Like any specific phobia, hormephobia has a series of differentiated clinical manifestations. Let’s see what are the symptoms of hormephobia .

1. Intense, irrational and disproportionate fear

Recall that the phobias are characterized, mainly, by a fear that has three peculiarities: it is an intense, irrational fear (usually the patient himself recognizes that his phobia is irrational) and disproportionate (although in “normal” conditions the phobic stimulus can become fearful, the symptoms it causes exceed those expected by the nature of the stimulus).

Fear is an altered reaction of the organism to the possibility of suffering damage ; Fears are frequent and “normal”, and most of them are evolutionary (they have allowed us to adapt to the environment and survive). However, when that reaction is disproportionate and irrational and also interferes with our daily lives, we talk about a phobia, as is the case with hormephobia.

2. Psychophysiological symptoms

Beyond the fear of the possibility of suffering a shock, a strong emotion, a trauma or a fright, other associated symptoms appear in the hormephobia, triggered by that intense fear. These symptoms are psychophysiological, that is, they cover two aspects: the psychological part (the pisque) of the person and the physiological (physical) part .

Examples of these symptoms are: nausea, dizziness, choking sensation, rapid heartbeat, sweating, tension, chest pressure, migraines, panic attacks … In the case of hormephobia, all these symptoms are triggered by the possibility of being in contact with the phobic stimulus, that is, before the possibility of experiencing a state of shock, of suffering a strong shock, etc.

They may also appear to the mere imagination of one of these situations.

Discomfort and interference

In order to diagnose a specific phobia, it is necessary that the above symptoms cause significant discomfort in the patient and / or interference in their day-to-day work, academic, personal, social …

  • You may be interested: ” Types of Anxiety Disorders and their characteristics


The most likely cause of suffering from hormephobia is to have previously suffered a state of shock or great shock from a certain vital event. Having experienced such a situation can cause a strong fear of experiencing it again , which ends up causing hormephobia.

So, the main cause is a traumatic event, as in most phobias. In addition, we must bear in mind that we are facing a very particular phobia, since the phobic object of the hormephobia itself can already be a traumatic situation, which does not happen with most other phobias (for example being afraid of clowns , to costumes, to heights …).


In the psychological field, the treatment of hormephobia is based, as in all specific phobias, on two major therapeutic options: exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy .

1. Exposure therapy

In this case, the patient with hormephobia will be exposed to phobic stimulation gradually, through a hierarchy of items.

First you must identify very well (specify it very specifically) what causes fear in the patient; if it is about the possibility of suffering a blow, a shock, a state of shock … and based on that, develop the hierarchy. In the first items, items that cause little anxiety should be placed , in order to progressively incorporate more and more intense items on the scale.

2. Cognitive behavioral therapy

In the case of cognitive behavioral therapy , its objective is to replace the negative, irrational and catastrophic thoughts associated with phobic stimulation , such as: “I will lose control”, “I will hurt myself”, “I will pass it fatally”, “I will become crazy “,” I will not know how to react “, etc., for other more functional, adaptive and realistic.

These other thoughts can be, for example: “I don’t have to suffer a shock if I go out”, “if I hurt myself, they can help me”, “I don’t have to lose control”, “I don’t have to suffer a shock ”, etc.


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