Fear of Fish – Ichthyophobia

Many dads love to take their children fishing. Some consider this a rite of passage. It can be fun to sit on the bank or troll on a lake hoping to land something you’ll have stories about for decades to come. Many people enjoy the experience, some endure it, but for a select few there is an incredible sense of fear about fish. When the phobia becomes irrational therapists refer to it as Ichthyophobia.

According to a chinese proverb…”Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” But what if the fear of fish brings terror and tears to the man?

The role of fear is often misunderstood by both the individual who expresses the fear as well as those who observe the fear in action.

What Causes Ichthyophobia?

In many cases the fear of fish is often the result of not seeing the fish through murky lake or river water.  The fear might also be tied to the potential of drowning or even water. The reason this is important to note is that when fear is allowed to take up residence in your way of thinking it almost always embraces other fears. So if the original fear was the fear of water then the fear of fish might be an extension of that fear.

It may be stereotypical, but we all have images of girls running away from boys who brandished frogs or snakes. This can be the same image that causes some to fear snakes, but in this case the image the phobic personality has is of a loved one who expressed profound fear of fish. This modeling caused anxiety to be present whenever fish are present. This may only extend to the actual act of fishing, but it could be extended to things found in an aquarium or even seafood.

In rare cases the fear of fish may be due to actually being bitten by a fish or frightened by one in some way. This can result in memories that bring anxiety and invite fear.

Symptoms of Ichthyophobia

A person with this phobia will not be able to fish. They may even refuse to go anywhere near a body of water such as a lake, river or pond. They don’t want to see pictures of fish that others have caught and stories of catching fish may cause them to feel panic as well.

Other symptoms may also include…

  • Nausea
  • Air hunger
  • Trembling
  • Panic attacks
  • Weeping
  • Crying
  • Loss of control
  • An urge to flee
  • Social anxiety

While some may view this or other phobias as ‘silly’, casual readers need to know that when a person experiences a fear trigger they may not be able to control their response without help.

How to Overcome Ichthyophobia

You need to know that many popular fish species do not have teeth. When you toss a line into the water any fish that may be caught will be visible when brought to the surface. Understanding this is only a small step forward toward recovery.

A therapist will be able to help you discover the origin of your fear trigger and how to deal with it in a positive way. Managing fear does not necessarily mean the absence of fear, but rather a controlled and logical response to the impulse of fear.

The fear of fish is also referred to as:

  • Fish fear
  • Fishing fear
  • Ichthyophobia
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