What is Scelerophobia?

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In this blog we will discuss what Scelerophobia is.

We will also explore the symptoms of this phobia, the causes of its development, and how to cope or manage this phobia. 

What is Scelerophobia?

Scelerophobia refers to the fear of crime or criminals.

The term Scelerophiba comes from the latin word “Scelero” which means “crime” or “wickedness”.

So people with this particular phobia would struggle with the irrational fear of having something wicked or something criminal done to them such as being robbed, or mugged, or being held hostage in their homes etc. 

They would struggle with this fear of coming across or being part of a crime and this fear would often lead them to become anxious when it comes to the issue of being robbed, or mugged etc.

In severe cases, individuals with this fear would struggle with a lot of anxiety regarding the safety of themselves, their loved ones, or even the things they own, and at times they might even struggle with feeling safe in their own house. 

It is likely that individuals with Scelerohpbia would often obsess over issues related to security and might engage in precautionary behaviours such as locking doors, adding multiple security systems, installing cameras as well as going to extreme lengths to have their valuables protected.

While it is possible that this particular phobia can be a result of PTSD from crime that they were victims of, or from observing other individuals who have had crimes done to them, usually people close to them, or from first hand exposure to the crime. 

However, it is also possible that this fear might arise without any negative experiences as listed above and this fear might have developed due to other causes, one being too much media consumption related to crimes. 

What are the symptoms of Scelerophobia?

When it comes to Scelerophobia, the most prominent symptoms that are usually observable by the individual as well as others around them includes anxiety related behaviours. 

When Individual feel threatened or triggered by external stimuli that resembles their fears such as noise outside their homes or random people walking close to them at night, might experience the following physical symptoms:

  • sweating
  • trembling
  • hot flashes or chills
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • a choking sensation
  • rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • pain or tightness in the chest
  • nausea
  • headaches and dizziness
  • feeling faint
  • numbness or pins and needles
  • dry mouth
  • ringing in your ears
  • confusion or disorientation
  • hyperventilation

In severe cases, it is also possible that such individuals might also be triggered into full blown panic attacks when they are under severe stress related to their fears of being a victim of crime or of criminals which might require medical assistance in some cases. 

It is also important to mention that when it comes to phobias, it does not only include physical symptoms but also symptoms related to their psychology. 

These individuals affected by this phobia might engage in avoidance behaviours which involve them doing whatever they can, knowling and sometimes unknown, to ensure that they do not come in contact with their fears.

They might also engage in repetitive behaviours to ensure safety, lose sleep over it, and also be so occupied with this fear and doing many things to prevent it from happening that they neglect their other areas of responsibility like their work, their personal relationships etc. 

At some point they might develop other phobias, anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, social phobias, as well as agoraphobia if their symptoms cause much dysfunction in their lives, and because of this they might also develop a sense of hopelessness and eventually, depression. 

What causes scelerophobia?

It has not been clearly determined what causes Scelerophobia however, it is suspected that the phobia is caused by the following factors:

Genetic vulnerability to anxiety and other mental disorders.

Family history of anxiety disorders

Past negative experiences, usually during developing years, related to crime, being a victim of crime, or witnessing a crime could also be a major factor that leads to this phobia. 

Other factors also include:

  • Living in a high crime rate area where there have been instances of criminal activity might make an individual more aware and more anxious. 
  • Being a woman could also lead to heightened awareness and anxiety due to crime rates towards women being statistically higher. 
  • Being an elderly individual can also lead to higher fears of crime and criminal activity because of their vulnerable disposition, so they might develop a fear that they will not be able to defend themselves. 
  • Trauma transference where an individual has experience of watching a loved one or witnessing a friend being a victim of crime. 
  • Too much media consumption, to the point of obsession, related to crime, criminology, legal cases etc. (PsychTimes)

How to cope with Scelerophobia?

Here are a few things that you can do to cope with Scelerophobia, provided that it is not causing any dysfunction of your day to day lives, and it is mild or manageable. 

  • Secure your home by taking sufficient preventative measures to ensure that you and your family are safe. This includes setting up security systems, outdoor floodlights, cameras with alarm systems and motion sensors, moving to a gated community with security services, as well as adopting a pet or a guard dog. 
  • Engaging in Rationalising your thoughts related to your fears and anxiety by making use of worksheets and workbooks related to anxiety and phobias while also putting forward real evidence to calm your anxieties.
  • Exercises to help you calm down, expel excess energies, and to maintain an elevated and happy mood. 
  • Taking defence classes to help you remain agile and ready in the case you need to defend yourself. 
  • Seeking out support from friends and family in the case that you find yourself extremely afraid. Reaching out to them, via phone call or asking them to be with you on days that the anxiety is really overpowering can be a good way to cope. 

What are the treatment options for Scelerophobia?

If your symptoms are debilitating or severe to the point where it is getting in the way of your day to day life, the most advisable thing you can do is to seek treatment from a mental health professional.

The treatment options for this particular phobia follow the same treatment as most Specific phobia treatments go.

You will have the option of engaging in Behavioural change techniques used in behavioural therapy as well as cognitive behavioural therapy techniques which have enough evidence that set them as good treatment options for anxiety and specific phobia disorders. 

Cognitive behavioural therapy

In terms of Cognitive behavioural therapies your therapist will teach you how to regulate your negative and irrational thoughts when you come across triggers. 

As you engage in therapy you will start learning to alter your thoughts, develop an awareness of how you feel, and as a consequence the way you react in situations where you are faced with a real or imagined trigger. 

Rational Emotive Behavioural therapy

REBT is an action-oriented type of CBT that addresses unhealthy or irrational beliefs and attitudes that influence thoughts,  emotions, and behaviours. 

It follows the ABC model of developing an awareness about the processes that influenced the development of the phobia such as the activating event, the beliefs that were developed as a result and the consequences of those beliefs. 

It uses a method known as “disputing” to assist individuals develop realistic and healthy beliefs and as a consequence develop the ability to rationalise their thoughts and their emotional and behavioural responses as well. 

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Scelerophobia

MBSR is an evidence-based program that involves mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety and other mental health issues. 

MBSR could be helpful in helping individuals deal with their phobia as it has been found to be effective in tackling anxiety issues in most cases. 

The program involves teaching and training individuals to develop skills to cope with the ansirty or to reduce the intensity of the anxiety. 

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy involves you being placed in a non-dangerous state that allows you to come in contact with your triggers and trigger a phobia response. These situations differ in intensity and the constant explorer has been hypothesised to help you develop familiarity and reduce fear. 

Pharmacological treatment

If your anxiety is extremely severe your doctor may prescribe you antidepressants or an anti-anxiety medication to assist your phobia treatment, your panic, and other physical symptoms.

These medications will most probably be prescribed to you in the case that you have been diagnosed with Specific phobia disorder, meaning that the phobia has now affected your life significantly. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed what Scelerophobia is.

We have also explored the symptoms of this phobia, the causes of its development, and how to cope or manage this phobia. 

FAQ related to Scelerophobia

How do I get over my fear of burglary?

Here are a few things you can do to get over your fear of burglary:

  • Secure windows and doors. 
  • Keep valuables protected.
  • Consider seeking professional help if needed
  • Live with a guard dog
  • Move to a gated and protected community
  • Live with housemates

Will burglars hurt you?

Burglars are often motivated to rob and steal and not harm. The usually come in the night or when the house is empty for this particular reason. So if you are caught up in a robbery, do not do anything that would threaten them- let the robbers do what they came to do, do not resist, and most probably they will not hurt you.

What causes Neophobia?

Neophobia can be caused by the following:

  • Overly restrictive Parental influence 
  • Over protectiveness by parents or guardians
  • Lack of encouragement to try new things
  • Childhood experiences with new things that ended up badly
  • No guidance and support in the face of failures

What do you do if someone breaks into your house?

If your home has been broken into and you are safe the first thing you can do is to call the police. 

  • Ensure that you are safe, do not enter the home. 
  • Call for support from your neighbours or friends who live close by. 
  • File a report with the police. 
  • Once they have done a full sweep, secure the house and either stay with someone else or ask a friend or family to stay with you. 
  • Talk about your experiences if that helps you cope, seek out professional support if needed. 

References

Scelerophobia. Phobia Wiki. Retrieved on 2nd February 2022. https://phobia.fandom.com/wiki/Scelerophobia.

How to Deal with Scelerophobia (fear of burglars)?. Quilty. Retrieved on 2nd February 2022. https://quilityblankets.com/blogs/news/how-to-deal-with-scelerophobia-fear-of-burglars

Olsen. Fear of Crime Phobia – Scelerophobia. Fear Of.Net. Retrieved on 2nd February 2022.https://www.fearof.net/fear-of-crime-phobia-scelerophobia/

Scelerophobia (Fear of Bad Men or Burglars). Psychtimes. Retrieved on 2nd February 2022. https://psychtimes.com/scelerophobia-fear-of-bad-men-or-burglars/

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