Anthropophobia (Fear Of People)

Anthropophobia is a pathological form of timidity and shyness. One will find it difficult to socialize with people. Overcoming intense fear will seem overwhelming.


It is a phobia that is commonly confused with other social disorders. However, the major variance among the two is that: for this disorder, a person will shy away from people in all or most circumstances, other than for instance, only fearing to eat before others, or a gathering, as is in the case of social phobias. Therefore, the difference between extreme fear of people and social phobia is subtle.

Individuals with the disorder may discover that there is no rational reason to be afraid of other people, their phobias still influence their daily lives, making them arrange their education, career and days to avoid relating with others.

To patients with the disorder, context and familiarity have the least impact on their ability to relate to others. Even the close family members can trigger symptoms of fear and anxiety as total strangers. Anthropophobic individuals are more comfortable in situations where they are anonymous, and equally feel insecure to be in dark rooms or speak to the audience.


There are no clinical symptoms since it is not a clinical condition. However, it can be classified under the DSM-5 category. Criteria for this disorder entails:

  • A major fear of people or a person.
  • Trying to avoid social gatherings as much as one can, or even going a great length to do so.
  • Thought of death and fear of embarrassing oneself in public.
  • Shortness of breath, increased heart rate, difficulty in swallowing, feeling like being chocked, sweating, increased blood pressure, crying, trembling among others are the main symptoms of such a disorder.
  • Panicking upon thinking of going to meet other people. Also, one may have a challenge in sleeping in days leading to encounter with others.

The disorder often worsens over time when left untreated. It is very vital to handle these symptoms by seeking assistance. Friends and families should as well help the individuals with the phobia as much as they can, and encourage them to employ self-help techniques such as medication, deep breathing among others.

What are the main causes?

What causes this phobia has never been clear. However, it can depend on an individual and past encounters. Some of the possible cause factors include:

  • The mind of an individual may sometimes learn to fear people.
  • An extreme negative experience with persons in the past may trigger phobia for some people.
  • A person with a possibility of overanxious may as well develop Anthropophobia
  • Adrenal insufficiency or physical problems can also lead to this disorder.
  • Mental health or neurological conditions may also increase the risk of developing fear.
  • Individuals with disorders causing paranoia, like bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia are at risk of developing this phobia.


Like any other phobia, anthropophobia usually responds very well to varied treatments methods. When attended to in early stage, treatment will only involve a handful of short therapy sessions during which an individual learn to replace his or her fearful thoughts with positive ones. Systematic desensitization is behavioral training that is commonly used; a person is progressively exposed to stronger triggers.

Therapy may take longer if the disorder is extreme. One may be required to attend a number of sessions learning to endure sharing space with the therapist. For one to overcome the extreme fear of persons, persistence and hard work is paramount. One needs to be kind and patient to oneself and maintain pushing through.

Since phobias are not rational by nature, it is impossible to just talk oneself out of being afraid of others. Psychiatrists usually apply varied methods to assist individuals suffering from the disorder. Therefore, it is possible to try other options if a single therapy doesn’t seem to help.

Morita therapy is one of the common treatment methods. It was developed in Japan in the 20th century. The method tries to correct the disorder by first accepting it. Morita therapy claims that one doesn’t overcome fear by attempting to push it aside, but by first realizing that he or she is afraid, and then looking for ways to compartmentalize. Therapists assist patients in coming up with ways of managing fear and overcoming it. As a result, individuals suffering from the disorder are able to cope with situations they might have otherwise not been in a position to endure. With the many types of therapy and therapists available, it is possible to find at least one that will help every patient suffering from the disorder.

If the disorder co-occurs with addiction or substance abuse, it is vital to go for the treatment method that provides personalized and comprehensive care. Because each individual’s struggle to recovery is usually different, and do need different levels and types of psychotherapeutic, medical and psychiatric support to overcome symptoms of the two disorders.


When one commences experiencing irrational and unnecessary fear in their mind, then he or she should immediately seek the help of a therapist. Fear of others may also initiate the tendencies in the kids too. Therefore, the parent should manage or treat the fear of people in them, to avoid passing it to their children. Genetics commonly play crucial roles in passing to other generations the tendencies of developing the disorder.

Prevention of the disorder can as well be through literate education, self-confident, self-sufficient personality, developing a positive attitude towards others and normal self-esteem.

Parents must explain to children right from their tender age of what awaits them in life, the dangers lying ahead of them. So that they can grow up being brave and prepared to handle all the adversity.

In addition, it is always important to protect kids from stress from an early age, such as funerals, tragic situations, and serious illness among others. Parents need not expose children to violence; little children have a sensitive psyche that always absorbs the negative.

If a child suffers from any kind of fear, it is important to talk to him or her gently. Explain to the kid that it is not of any significance to be afraid.

Trust of relatives and games can serve as a perfect complement for psychotherapy. However, if the kid’s fear turns to be pathological, not psychologically conditioned or doesn’t seem to have a clear basis, then it is important to consult a child psychiatrist.

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Last Reviewed:
June 23, 2018
Last Updated:
June 21, 2018