Allodoxaphobia (Fear Of Opinions)

Patients with allodoxaphobia have an irrational fear of opinions and will take drastic steps to avoid hearing other people’s opinions about them.

What is Allodoxaphobia?

When patients have an intense and irrational fear of other people’s opinions, they may be diagnosed with Allodoxaphobia. While the term Doxaphobia refers to the fear of expressing one’s own opinions, patients with Allodoxaphobia are concerned with what other people feel about them.

Although patients with Allodoxaphobia may fear the judgment of strangers and acquaintances, they can also fear the opinions of family and friends, even if these people regularly express a good opinion of the sufferer.

While patients with Allodoxaphobia may realize that their fear is irrational, they feel unable to control or reduce it. As a result, they may avoid situations in which they can be judged. This generally means that patients isolate themselves in order to prevent anyone from judging them or expressing their opinion of them.

How are the symptoms of Allodoxaphobia?

Allodoxaphobia is extremely detrimental and can have a significant impact on people’s lives. Patients may refuse to socialize with new people and may cut off contact with existing friends and family. In addition to this, patients may struggle in a work environment. Even if patients have worked in the same environment for a long period of time, their fear of being judged by co-workers may result in them quitting their job or looking for a more solitary position.

The fear associated with Allodoxaphobia is so overwhelming that patients may isolate themselves completely. In extreme cases, patients may stop interacting with people altogether and live a very solitary life.

As well as reducing or eliminating contact with other people, patients may exhibit an anxiety response if they are in a situation in which other people may form an opinion of them. If the patient’s condition is particularly severe, even the thought of being in these situations can be enough to trigger a fear response.

When this happens, patients may experience the classic symptoms of a panic attack. These may include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Trembling
  • Fainting or feelings of faintness
  • A desire to escape the situation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth

What are the causes of Allodoxaphobia?

As Allodoxaphobia is a rare form of social phobia, the true cause of the condition is not yet fully understood. It is believed that genetic and hereditary factors may play a role in the development of Allodoxaphobia and that some individuals may be more prone to the condition due to their genetic makeup.

However, previous traumatic or negative experiences are believed to have more of an impact on the development of Allodoxaphobia (Fear of Opinions). If children or young people face regular criticism from parents, teachers, peers and/or caregivers, they may begin to withdraw in order to avoid further admonishments.

If a child regularly participates in class, for example, but is frequently criticized by the teacher, they may stop participating due to the fear of being told off. If other pupils mock or tease the child based on the teacher’s criticism, this can reinforce the fear of criticism and increase the risk of Allodoxaphobia occurring.

If a child or young person is physically, psychologically or sexually abused, they may be more likely to suffer from Allodoxaphobia in the future. These forms of abuse often involve traumatic event(s) and on-going critique. Similarly, the abuser often apportions blame to the child and attempts to justify their behavior. As a result, the child’s behavior changes in order to try and prevent further abuse from occurring. Desperate to stop the abuse, the child may stop speaking or acting in a certain way, and they may develop a fear of judgment from those around them.

While some people are psychologically resilient when it comes to judgment, others are more sensitive to criticism. When they are first criticized, it is possible that the amygdala in the brain is triggered. When presented with a similar situation, the amygdala is re-triggered, even without any criticism occurring. In order to prevent this occurring in the future, the individual may strive to avoid situations in which other people are likely to share their opinions about them.

People may also develop Allodoxaphobia if they fear confrontation. If debates between family or friends regularly lead to arguments, fights or feuds, individuals may begin to dread hearing anyone’s opinion. Due to this, they may begin to isolate themselves in order to stop hearing other people’s opinions and having to deal with the negative consequences.

Can Allodoxaphobia be treated?

Although Allodoxaphobia can be successfully treated, patients may be reluctant to seek help from a professional. Often, patients with Allodoxaphobia fear hearing the opinions of a therapist or physician, so they do not seek help for their condition. Supportive friends and family may be able to encourage the patient to obtain professional help but the individual must want to engage in therapy in order for it to be effective.

If treatment is sought, patients can often overcome their fear of other people’s opinions. Psychotherapy is particularly helpful in treating this type of social phobia and hypnotherapy may also be used. During treatment, patients are often encouraged to share their own opinions. Although patients with Allodoxaphobia do not typically fear sharing their own opinion, encouraging them to do so can build self-confidence and help to reduce the symptoms of Allodoxaphobia.

Gradually, the patient is exposed to other people’s opinions and they are taught how to modify their response to a previously triggering stimulus. In addition to this, therapists may discuss the cause of the patient’s phobia in order to help the individual understand why they are suffering from the condition.

For some patients, medication is an appropriate form of treatment for Allodoxaphobia. If the condition is preventing them from working, socializing or engaging in day-to-day activities, anti-anxiety medication may enable them to tolerate these situations without experiencing panic attacks. Whilst medication will not have a direct effect on Allodoxaphobia, it can reduce symptoms and may be used in conjunction with other types of treatment.

Preventing Allodoxaphobia (Fear Of Opinions)

Although it can be difficult to prevent Allodoxaphobia from occurring, there are ways to reduce the risk of an individual developing this condition. As fears often stem from childhood, nurturing the child in a secure environment can help to build their confidence and reduce their fear of judgment. Ensuring the child is not mocked or ridiculed when they make mistakes can also prevent them feeling embarrassed or judged and this can also reduce their risk of suffering from Allodoxaphobia.

If adults notice that they feel uncomfortable in social situations or dread interacting with other people, they can also take steps to prevent Allodoxaphobia from developing. Dealing with social anxiety or shyness, before it leads to Allodoxaphobia, can help patients to avoid the condition completely. Whilst it may not always be possible to prevent someone from developing Allodoxaphobia, these strategies can help to reduce the risk of the psychological condition occurring.