Fear of Crowds – Ochlophobia

One of the most prominent fears experienced by people today is a variety of social phobias. Perhaps the most pronounced fear is dealing well with large groups of people. If you have a fear of crowds you may have what is known as Ochlophobia.

This could be a reaction to something as ordinary as going to a movie, a store or even school. The result is almost universally a panic attack or feelings of being smothered. Those who have a sever case of ochlophobia may not even feel comfortable leaving the relative safety of their own homes.

What Causes Ochlophobia?

Imagine friends playing a game of hide and seek. One child hides in a toy box, but in doing so a large item falls on the box lid effectively trapping the child. From the moment that child was first trapped until someone finally rescued him or her there were moments of extreme apprehension and fear. While there was relief at being rescued there is also the potential for phobia development (in this case a fear of small spaces).

Now, take that same idea and place an individual in a large crowd or mob-like environment. They may not be able to hear what they need to hear because the crowd is too noisy – they may feel as if their personal space is routinely violated – they would give anything they own just to be free from the crowd.

The original fear can begin at a large concert, political rally, sporting event or any of a number of activities where a large crowd would be present. Some who have this fear can only cope by using anxiety reduction medications.

Symptoms of Ochlophobia

We addressed some of the symptoms previously (including panic attacks and a feeling of being smothered), but there are other symptoms, which include…

  • Trembling
  • Nausea (including vomiting)
  • Sweating
  • Blackouts
  • Feelings of desperation
  • Crying
  • Anger
  • May revert to a fetal position

Because this source of this fear (people) is hard to avoid altogether the fear attacks may be frequent and frustrating. This is one fear you should treat in order to engage life.

How to Overcome Ochlophobia

A therapist or counselor can treat a fear of crowds professionally. Several methods could be used each case the therapist will be working to uncover the original fear as well as working to treat the existing fear. In many cases this will include a rational discussion about crowds and their potential danger. By taking through some of the issues surrounding your fear you will be able to talk through some of the concerns you have and come to terms with how dangerous they really are from a rational standpoint.

This exercise in and of itself is rarely enough to conquer the fear, but it does provide a needed step in overcoming some of your phobic responses. Some therapy sessions may involve actually placing yourself in a crowd with your therapist there to remind you there is little to fear. Sometimes this type of therapy can prove helpful.

Do you have ochlophobia? How has it affected your life? Has it been positive or negative in your everyday existence? Why?

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