Fear of Going to the Doctor – Iatrophobia

A doctor is someone patients turn to for medical advice, instruction and care. They can help relive pain and provide preventative action to reduce the instance of disease and infection. They are trained to care for patients, and take a pledges to do them ‘no harm’. Many people appreciate the care they receive from their family doctor while others are less optimistic about a visit to their local clinic. Still others take caution to a whole new level. In these instances caution can easily become a fear, and the fear can easily become a phobia. In this case the fear is known as Iatrophobia.

What Causes Iatrophobia?

For some individuals there can be a fear of needles or even the fear of being diagnosed with a deadly disease. The rationale seems to be that if they don’t know there’s a problem within their body then there isn’t a problem. A fear of the doctor often represents a broad fear of disease, like diabetes for instance. In all cases the internal belief represents a fear of that which is unknown.

The fear can develop from a personal encounter with a doctor that may have been frightening or the cause of extreme apprehension. It can also be the result of watching a friend or family member discovering bad medical news from a doctor.

Like most phobias this fear is often the result of observing someone else who lived with the fear. A father who would not go to the doctor or a grandmother who was certain a visit to the doctor would mean hospitalization and death.

In the case of most fears there may not be logical proof that anything as dangerous as what the mind imagines will actually occur, but that doesn’t stop the fear from gripping the individual.

Symptoms of Iatrophobia

This is one of those fears that generally responds with avoidance. The individual will never admit to feeling bad enough to merit the help of a doctor. They may consult home remedy techniques and resort to self diagnosis. While this can be potentially harmful to the individual they often view this as an acceptable alternative.

Other symptoms may also include…

  • Air hunger
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • An urge to flee
  • Panic attacks
  • Trembling
  • Vomiting
  • Control loss

How to Overcome Iatrophobia

Many iatrophobes respond well to education about how a doctor diagnoses issues and the methods they employ to assist in patient recovery. If an individual’s only experience with a doctor was one that was frightening then a look at modern patient care may provide a solid intervention technique.

Therapists can be especially useful in helping the iatrophobe discover the original incident that sparked the belief that doctors were to be feared. If an individual can be shown logically why the experience that led to a faulty belief was incorrect they can then be retaught how to work through the fear and allow a doctor to help when they experience medical difficulties.

The fear of going to the doctor is also referred to as:

  • Doctor fear
  • Going to the doctor fear
  • Iatrophobia
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