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Pteronophobia (A 5 point guide)

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The current blogspot will be based on the definition of pteronophobia. We will discuss the causes and symptoms for pteronophobia. We will also learn treatment options available for pteronophobia.

What is pteronophobia?

The word pteronophobia is derived from ancient Greek word pteron meaning “feather” and phobia meaning “fear”. Hence pteronophobia is defined as the fear of feathers. 

Pteronophobia is a persistent, irrational and illogical fear of being tickled by feathers. A person suffering from pteronophobia has an extreme fear and a constant worry on the mere thought of being tackled with feathers. Often such individuals experience a panic attack as they think of being tackled with feathers without any real experience of being tickled  with feathers. Though the anxiety and fear depends on the individual and varies from case to case, it is usually reported that severe feelings of pteronophobia among individuals result in panic attacks.

A full blown panic attack resulting from pteronophobia may result in : 

  • Palpitations
  • Increased heart rate leading to tachycardia
  • Muscular tension
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Trembling
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating

Pteronophobia may cause individuals to avoid certain situations that they fear. They take every safety measure to not being in contact with any scenario that may result in them being tickled with feathers. The mental anxiety and anguish resulting from pteronophobia often distorts their routine life. For example :

  • Individuals with pteronophobia often avoid buying feather pillows or cushions
  • Individuals with pteronophobia don’t rely on any decorative pieces in the household that have feathers in them. 
  • Individuals with pteronophobia avoid visiting houses that have feathery pets
  • Individuals with pteronophobia avoid using feathery coats and blankets for their kids

The above mentioned behaviors may temporarily tend to ease the worry and anxiety related to pteronophobia. However in the longer run, these behaviors act as maintaining factors of pteronophobia that further strengthens the individual’s irrational beliefs related to pteronophobia. 

What are the symptoms of pteronophobia?

Following are the symptoms of pteronophobia:

  • Persistent worry
  • Constant feelings of fear
  • Severe anxiety leading to panic attacks
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Disturbed interpersonal relations
  • Constant worry of being tickled by feathers
  • Constantly avoiding being tackled by feathers
  • Unable to manage the anxiety and fear related to pteronophobia
  • Muscular tension, nervousness and shakiness
  • Anxiety related to visiting parks or zoo
  • Anxiety related to thoughts of birds with feathers
  • Hot flashes
  • Sweating
  • Numbness
  • Hyperventilation

The psychological symptoms caused by pteronophobia are :

  • Fear of fainting related to pteronophobia
  • A constant worry of losing control
  • Anxiety associated to feelings of shame and guilt
  • A fear of death due to tackling with feathers
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Feelings of disconnection from social circle
  • Feelings of withdrawal and isolation
  • Difficulty concentrating in life
  • Confusion 
  • Anger and frustration
  • Irritability and mood swings

What are the causes of pteronophobia?

To date, there has been no evidence of the causes of pteronophobia. The major cause is childhood trauma and childhood abuse. Any traumatic event that involves being in touch with birds or feathers or an accident that occured with birds.

For example a child may develop pteronophobia after being bitten by a bird while feeding them or being chased by ducks at a zoo and park. The childhood feelings of fear are persistent and continue into adulthood.

Often adults are unable to recall the event that began their pteronophobia. They are also unable to control the fear and manage their reactions in response to the feared object.

It is often believed that the causes of pteronophobia are as follows:

  • Learned behavior
  • Brain chemistry
  • Environmental factors including traumatic factors
  • Biological factors

What are the etiological factors of pteronophobia?

The etiological factors behind pteronophobia are as follows:

  • Biological model
  • Psychodiagnostic model
  • Behavioral Model

Biological model

The feelings and reactions of a person in a biological model are often explained by genetics. The biological model believes that people inherit phobias from their family. Further the neurons release neurotransmitters that are responsible for causing anxiety and fear reactions among individuals.

If the neurons produce insufficient or extra amounts of dopamine and serotonin. The neurochemical levels in brian get disturbed. As a result the body starts behaving in fight or flight mode.

Psychodiagnostic model

The psychodiagnostic model explains pteronophobia in terms of childhood conflict and trauma. It believed that childhood conflicts and traumatic experiences lead to fears that persist throughout life.fears and anxieties.

The triggers of the fears and anxiety that result from childhood traumatic events become associated to routine life events and thus it becomes difficult to control and manage the  fear and anxiety.

Behavioral Model

The behavioral model explains that pteronophobia is a behavioral reaction that is learned from the environment. Children have a tendency to replicate behaviors of the significant others in the family. They tend to behave exactly the way that they have seen their mother, father and siblings behaving. 

Hence if a family member is already going through anxiety or has fear of certain things in life. It is quite the case that the child will also develop the same fears.

What are the treatment options for pteronophobia?

The treatment options for pteronophobia include the following :

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
  • Exposure Therapy
  • Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP)
  • Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction MBSR
  • forms of meditation

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavior therapy is a strategy used to treat pteronophobia by restructuring the underlying cognitive distortions  that tend to affect the behaviors and feelings of the individuals. Often the fear associated with pteronophobia is irrational and illogical, the cognitive behavior therapy tends to explain to the client about their vicious cycle that makes them behave in certain ways in reaction to the triggers.

The cognitive behavior therapy treatment for pteronophobia is short term and goal oriented. 

Exposure Therapy

The exposure therapy is one of the frequently used treatment for the management of anxiety and fear among the individuals. In exposure therapy, the patients are exposed to their triggers of fear and anxiety over a period of time. The therapy begins with exposing the client to the least fearful trigger and progressively through a series of sessions the individual is exposed to the most fearful trigger.

For example the therapist starts with showing a client a picture of feathers, the next step is showing a video of individuals being involved with feathers, followed by imagining the self being surrounded with feathers and so forth.

Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP)

Through the neuro linguistic program the pteronophobia client is treated by facilitating them to dissociate their fear of feathers, access their fear of feathers in a safe environment and helping the clients to reimagine their phobic reaction and replace it with happy feelings.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction MBSR

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction tends to treat pteronophobia by  inducing mindfulness strategies. It psychoeducates  the client about using the 5 senses to manage unhealthy emotions and behaviors. 

The clients of pteronophobia learn to manage their fears by reducing their reactions due to the interference of the environment. The client is made to focus on the present and live in here and now. They are made to consciously look for the fear and anxiety responses and try to relax themselves by using distress management techniques.

Forms of meditation

Various forms of meditation and breathing exercises are used to relax oneself from the persistent and continuing feelings of anxiety and fear. The clients are taught to engage themselves in yoga and meditation to connect their minds and souls. 

As a result the negative feelings and experiences are replaced with positive energies. 

Drug therapy

Drug therapy for pteronophobia focuses on using symptomatic medicines for overcoming the negative feelings of fear and anxiety. The various antidepressants and anti anxiety medicines are used to overcome the negative feelings and manage the neurochemicals of the brain to treat pteronophobia.


The current article focused on the question what is pteronophobia. We focused on the symptoms and causes of pteronophobia, we also discussed the various treatment options and etiological factors of pteronophobia.

Frequently asked questions (FAQS) : Pteronphobia

What causes Pteronophobia?

Pteronophobia is an irrational fear related to the feathers or the fear of being tickled with feathers. The feelings of pteronophobia may be related to ornithophobia. Ornithophobia is the fear of birds that is closely related to pteronophobia, the fear of feathers.

What is Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia?

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the longest word in the dictionary. It is the fear of long words. It is an irrational and negative persistent feeling.

What are the weirdest phobias?

The weirdest phobias that anyone will come across are :

Genophobia( fear of sexual relations)
Spectrophobia(Fear of mirrors or one’s own reflection)
Ablutophobia(fear of bathing)
Chorophobia(fear of dancing)
Heliophobia(Fear of Sunlight)
acrophobia(fear of heights)
claustrophobia(fear of small tight spaces)
Telephonophobia(fear of making or taking calls)
Nomphobia (Fear of not having mobile phones) 
phobophobia(fear of having a phobia )
Anthophobia (Fera of flowers)
Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobie(fear of number 666)



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