The fear of fire is known as Arsonphobia. People who fear fire may perceive a threat to their safety in even the smallest flame.
Throughout history, fire has caused great devastation, leveling cities and causing death and suffering. Fire has also been used as a symbol of eternal damnation. The religious significance of fire, as it is linked with hell and punishment, is often a trigger for Arsonphobia.
Fire Can Be A Symbol
Whether someone fears actual fire, as it appears on earth, or the idea of hellfire, they may become very agitated when faced with triggers. Even the small flame that appears when a lighter is used, or depictions of fire in the mass media, can provoke symptoms such as terror, nausea, lightheadedness, and avoidance. Religious illustrations and pamphlets may also be a source of pain for those with this phobia.
Sometimes, people with this phobia will take special pains to protect themselves from the threat of fire. They will be certain their homes have ample fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and a escape route by which family members can get out of the house if it is burning.
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Fire In History And Literature
In literature, witches and heroines have been sacrificed within the flames, usually by a judgmental society. Joan of Arc is one example of a heroine who was forced to burn.
Joan of Arc, also known as the Maid of Orleans, bravely led the French military toward several key victories, proving that courage is not the sole province of men. However, she paid a heavy price for her loyalty to France. She was turned in by her enemies and sentenced to death by the English – death by burning. She was only nineteen years old when her life ended so cruelly.
Witches, or those accused of witchcraft, were also the frequent recipients of this inhumane treatment. It is certain that many innocent women gave their lives in the midst of religious fervor and paranoia.
These historical influences have always portrayed the horrors of death by burning. For those who have studied history and read extensively, the fear of being burned at the stake can be primal and powerful.
Terrorism A Trigger?
Sometimes, acts of terrorism can provoke this phobia. Many people with the fear of fire report feelings of horror when witnessing reports and video of events such as 9/11, when smoke and flames poured from the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The helplessness of the victims who were trapped in the buildings, including those who had no choice but to jump to their deaths rather than be burned alive, left scars on many psyches.
Often, phobias can be the result of childhood memories, or other bad experiences that lay buried in the subconscious. As well, anyone who has suffered from a burn will be susceptible to Arsonphobia.
Symptoms And Treatment
The panic attack symptoms that are usually suffered as a result of fear of fire can be eased with proper treatment. Therapy and even anti-depressants can lessen the severity of symptoms. It may be necessary to dredge up any bad memories that triggered the phobia. Getting at the heart of exactly why you fear fire so much is the first step to understanding and conquering the phobia.
Many people who fear fire will spend their lives trying to avoid it. However, sometimes, in the case of forest fires and other natural disasters, fire simply occur without warning. Little can be done to stop these things from occurring. The person with Arsonphobia may feel that there is no safe place to hide from what they fear most. When this feeling affects daily life, it’s wise to seek help in the form of counseling.