Santa is the character that is often credited for much of the childhood enthusiasm associated with Christmas. This character goes by many names around the world, but most countries share a common story of a man who provides good children with toys. Movies, books and CD’s contain stories and songs about Santa and many seek out those stories each year to pass along to family. Interestingly there are a number of individuals who have a deep and profound fear of Santa Claus. With so many positive memories associated with Santa it may be hard to understand why fear is sometimes associated with the “Jolly Old Elf.”
What Causes Santa Phobia?
Sometimes this fear begins when someone (often a friend in youth) will talk about how strange it is that we think a guy coming into our homes while we sleep is a good idea. We hear questions about the possibility of a workshop in for foreboding area of the North Pole. Even when we think we have come to accept the mythical nature of the legend we might still remember how frightening it may have been to sit on the lap of a department store Santa.
This fear is often observed in others (both children and adults). We may be frightened of what’s behind the costume – much like the fear of clowns, or we may simply find this character that seems larger than life can have such an influence over a holiday. Ironically some may find it frightening that even if this is only a myth, we are told that Santa knows when we sleep and wake, and he knows all the good and bad deeds we have done.
If you believe this to be the stuff of nursery rhymes and childhood stories then you should know the lingering suspicions of childhood can impact the way we view things as adults.
Symptoms of Santa Phobia
Many people who live with a phobia use avoidance as a coping mechanism. The truth is avoidance only holds the fear back as long as the condition of “out of sight, out of mind” is in place. A person living with Santa phobia will not have or display Santa ornaments, they may refuse to shop at Christmastime. Their wrapping paper will not include Santa and they will not watch movies that include Santa.
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Other symptoms may also include…
- Panic attacks
- Loss of control
- Air hunger
- Elevated heart rate
- An urge to flee
This should be treated with empathy and understanding, but it should also be treated as a phobia and help should be sought.
How to Overcome Santa Phobia
This fear is generally triggered by a visual stimulus. Seeing a representation of Santa can be extremely potent to those who live with this fear. They may understand their emotional response is irrational, but they can’t seem to help themselves.
When therapy is sought the individual can come to terms with the origins of their fear and how to deal with the issues that made Santa fearful to them. They can learn new ways to control their emotional response as well as helpful ways to modify their behavior in the presence of a representation of Santa.
The fear of Santa is also referred to as:
- Santa fear
- Santa Phobia