If you are reading this then you have your eyes open. You notice the different colors on this page. If you look around the room you in you will notice textures, hues and tones. For some individuals the very act of opening your eyes brings fear. Therapists refer to this fear as Optophobia.
You might wonder what would cause an individual to fear seeing the world around them. It may be hard to imagine an individual unwilling to drink in the color of a spring flower, artistic painting or the face of a loved one. Yet there are those who struggle with this fear everyday.
What Causes Optophobia?
It is entirely possible to visit with an optophobe and discover they have no recognition of when the fear started. What they do know is that they fear opening their eyes.
There may actually be many reasons for this fear. It is possible the fear was introduced by watching a horror movie where closing the eyes was the only way to block out the fear of what they observed on the screen.
Watching a sporting event where someone got hurt may also trigger the desire to keep eyes closed to avoid fear responses.
In many ways the fear of opening the eyes may actually be the body’s responds to fear avoidance. By taking this route it then becomes a new source for fear.
It is also possible that the person who has this fear struggles with ‘what if’. They struggle with opening their eyes because there are things they simply do not want to see. If they open their eyes they are convinced they will see the object of their fear.
Symptoms of Optophobia
In some cases an optophobe will open their eyes for only brief seconds to test their surroundings, but they find a comfort level only in closing their eyes tightly shut.
Other symptoms include…
- Air hunger
- Irregularities in heart rate
- Fear the loss of control
- Panic attacks
- Cannot think clearly
Just like a child will pull a blanket over their head to protect themselves from something they fear in the middle of the night an optophobe will pull a covering of darkness over their sight in an effort to block out whatever they may find fearful.
How to Overcome Optophobia
Facing your fear is never a once and for all proposition. You may experience the same fear for the rest of your life. The difference will be in a revised response to that fear. In the case of the optophobe it will mean going backwards in time and finding the thing that triggered the original fear that prompted the closing of the eyes to avoid encountering that fear.
Some of the treatments available to the optophobe is hypnotherapy which seeks to take you back in time to that place where fear began for you.
Another type of therapy is neuro-linguistic programming. This therapy encourages a psychologist to help understand how you created your own personal reality and finding those flaws in thinking that have resulted in a life that is less than fulfilling because of barriers we have constructed with little idea as to why they exist.