Pediophobia (Fear Of Dolls)

An individual who suffers from pediophobia (fear of dolls) will normally get terrified as soon as they see or come into contact with a doll. Seeing a doll can make a person with this problem start to scream relentlessly.

The term pediophobia comes from a Greek word ‘paidion’, which means a small child. Parents normally give their young children dolls as a way of entertaining them. Some kids end up talking to the dolls, grooming them, giving them names and playing with them when they are free. However, not all children react this way when they are given dolls, as there are those that are scared of these dolls.

Some children are scared to an extent that they begin running away when they spot a doll. According to medical experts, all this can be traced back to psychological issues.

Pediophobia (fear of dolls) – What Is It?

The term is used to refer to the hypothetical fear of dolls, which makes a phobic child or grown-up to immediately go into self-defense mode when they spot a doll. Many believe that these dolls can harm them, despite the opposite being true. This kind of phobia is classified as automatonophobia. Loosely translated, it refers to the fear of inanimate items, e.g., animatronics, dolls, wax figures and puppets. All these are items that will normally emulate characteristics possessed by human beings. People with this condition will normally be scared of certain kinds of dolls. For instance, there are those who are scared of dolls that can walk or talk, while others are afraid of China dolls and porcelain dolls.

Although this condition mainly affects children, it has been seen to progress into adulthood when it is not addressed in time. There are adults with this condition who cannot stand being around small children.

Children and the Fear of Dolls

Many grown-ups, especially parents who have small girls, will normally want them to have dolls that they can play with. But the problem is that not all girls love dolls, and some will start screaming as soon as they notice a doll. As a parent, there is a need to realize that your child is still in the process of trying to separate fantasies and the reality.

As a result, a doll that resembles a human can be quite terrifying to a child that has not yet grasped this particular concept. In many cases, this condition only gets diagnosed when it has affected a child for a period of more than six months. If you notice that your child is inconsolable when in the presence of dolls, it is recommended that you seek advice from a physician on the best way to handle it.

Pop Culture and the Fear of Dolls

The pop culture has exploited this condition in various ways over the years ranging from Halloween events to horror movies. When you look at many of these instances, you will notice that the premise is that of a harmless doll, which later becomes sentient and goes on a rampage. Regardless of whether this occurs randomly or is caused by a magical spell, the end result is always the same: a plaything used by a child has all of a sudden become dangerous.

A majority of these films are aimed at tapping a primal fear that is rooted in all human beings: fear of the unknown killers. Given the fact that the world is currently filled with all kinds of threats ranging from tainted spinach to bioterrorism, it is not uncommon for a person to worry about the things surrounding them in their lives. Items they have previously classified as safe can all of a sudden become dangerous and cause their demise.

How is this Phobia Diagnosed?

Given that this condition may also be linked to numerous other fears, it is essential that the diagnosis only be made by professionals. During the diagnosis process, the therapists will ask questions that will help understand your fears. If you know someone going for a diagnosis, you can help them prepare for the visit by listing down all their triggers. For instance, are they afraid of all dolls or specific varieties? Have they always had this fear or is there something that caused them to start fearing the dolls? Do they have any other fears that may be related to their current fear of dolls? Preparing this list will assist the therapists come up with a diagnosis.


The mere sight of a doll has been known to wreak an emotional havoc on people who have this phobia. Many will be distressed after seeing a doll. Some of their reactions involve running away, crying or screaming as they believe that the doll they have just seen can actually cause them bodily harm.

Some people have reported getting an eerie feeling or getting goosebumps on seeing the starry doll eyes. Other common symptoms include:

  • Shivering
  • Hyperventilation
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rates
  • Experiencing a nauseous feeling
  • Getting a dry mouth

In rare cases, there are people who will completely lose their emotional and physical control. This is normally indicative of someone who is experiencing a severe panic attack.

What Causes the Fear of Dolls?

Phobia has traditionally been caused by an incident that occurred in the past, and which may in one way or another be linked to a doll. For this phobia, the individual will start relieving the past incident as soon as they have seen a doll.

There are other factors, e.g., brain chemistry and heredity that can also cause this condition.

Ways You Can Use to Address Your Fear of Dolls

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT has in the past been used to treat different kinds of phobia. It is a type of therapy where the patient is advised on ways they can follow to change their thought patterns, helping them concentrate on different thoughts. By shunning negative thoughts, a person can be able to embrace their fear of dolls and overcome it.

2. Relaxation

Practicing relaxation techniques, e.g., progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, meditation and yoga can also help a person overcome their fear of dolls. All these are methods that can work wonders for a person who is committed to overcoming this fear. Additional techniques, such as visualization can also be introduced at a much later date once one has mastered relaxation.