Fear of Pain or Overwork

Most people do not intentionally work themselves to physical collapse, but some fear the potential of pain associated with normal work. When the fear of pain is especially strong therapists may refer to the condition as Ponophobia.

It can become debilitating to work in an environment where the potential of pain is prevalent. Those who work in jobs where heavy lifting or inherent physical danger is a real possibility can find themselves increasingly reluctant to either work or give their best. Why? There is a desire to avoid the pain of pushing your body beyond comfortable limits.

In the case of physical exercise this can often be a stumbling block. A person may not mind walking if they feel no physical trauma. However, if they engage in strenuous exercise designed to build muscle and add endurance they may find they are in physical pain in the process of achieving a certain health goal. This pain can arrest their interest in continuing. They may even agree that exercise is needed and useful, but they may also come away from a painful experience fully convinced they should avoid a repeat performance at all cost.

What Causes Ponophobia?

If you were to view a parent or family friend who you knew obtained a painful or debilitating physical injury while on the job you might be inclined to only consider work that does not include strong physical demands. You can logically and emotionally connect the dots and conclude that hard work equals long-term pain and discomfort. You may have even experienced a painful work experience yourself. That experience can cause an individual to resist any future occurrence of a similar event.

This fear can be heightened by observing television programs or even commercials that either show physical trauma in an overworked employees experience or suggest that if you have been injured in a work related accident you may be entitled to compensation.

Symptoms of Ponophobia

An individual with this phobia will struggle with completing strenuous work related activity. It may not be a situation where they are trying simply to get out of work – they may be seeking to avoid the pain they believe is likely in such a scenario.

Other symptoms include…

  • An urge to come up with any reason possible to get out of the work requested
  • Panic attack
  • Air hunger
  • Trembling
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Crying
  • Feeling faint
  • Elevated heart rate

This fear can be troublesome because it can diminish your employability. It can diminish the value you may have within a company you already work for – and in a worse case scenario it could result in job termination.

How to Overcome Ponophobia

Learning that a little bit of pain is both normal and sometimes necessary in a work related experience can be a valuable aid in overcoming this fear. A therapist can help you discover the origin of the fear and how to logically counter the emotional response to the fear you may experience. The good news is this fear can be overcome – but you may need a little help to make it happen.

The fear of pain is also referred to as:

  • Pain fear
  • Fear of being overworked
  • Ponophobia
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