Fear of Epilepsy

Epilepsy usually shows up as a disturbance in brain function that typically results in seizures. These seizures can cause the individual to be extremely tired afterward. While this is troublesome to the epileptic it can instill a sense of fear in those who witness the seizure – especially when they aren’t sure what just happened. When that fear becomes a phobia is it known as Hylephobia.

Interestingly this phobia name is the same one attributed to the fear of materialism. The Greeks did use the word ‘hyle’ or ‘hylas’ to describe all matter, but it was also recognized as, “one of the three degrees in the progress of spirits.” Perhaps this second definition  of movement is why the term is also attributed to the fear of epilepsy.

What Causes Hylephobia?

If you ever experience an epileptic seizure yourself you already know some of the symptoms of fear. If you detect one beginning you struggle with classic symptoms such as control loss, dizziness, embarrassment, air hunger, and fainting. If you have seizures long enough you may come to fear them for the symptoms they bring.

If you don’t live with the seizures personally you might fear them because by observing them you are left feeling frightened with a hint of hopelessness. There doesn’t seem to be much you can do to help and the seizure is both unexpected and a personal struggle.

You might also find that a struggle with this fear in the life of another contributes to your own sense of fear. We model what we see so if you had a relative who found this a difficult situation it is likely you will have similar feelings about epilepsy.

Symptoms of Hylephobia

When a person with this fear learns that someone they may come in contact with has epilepsy they may be quick to cancel any personal contact. They struggle with the potential for something they can’t control so it is just easier to simply stay away from that which they believe to be uncontrollable.

Other symptoms may also include…

  • Panic attacks
  • Air hunger
  • Trembling
  • Feeling faint
  • Nausea
  • Screaming
  • An urge to flee
  • Avoidance

While the epileptic can’t control when or where they may have a seizure the phobic personality may exercise control over where and with whom them spend their time. This phobia can lead to social anxiety thereby encouraging other phobias to co-exist with Hylephobia.

How to Overcome Hylephobia

Education can be a primary tool in developing an atmosphere where fear is not welcome. When you understand that epilepsy is a medical condition that coexists with thousands of other medical conditions you can learn that the issue may be troubling and frustrating, but the individual experiencing the seizure already struggles with what will happen to them. Your response to the seizures doesn’t usually change the epileptic, but it does cause you to be held captive by something that should never control you – fear.

This is where a therapist can be very important to your recovery. They can help you separate your response from what is actually happening and urge your response to a place of compassion instead of fear.

The fear of Epilepsy is also referred to as:

  • Epileptic fear
  • Hylephobia
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