Fear of Property

If you consider this one of the more unusual fears we’ve covered then you’re not alone. The actual name for this phobia is Orthophobia and the root causes for property fear may surprise you.

It would seem that most people you know will want to own a home, a car and perhaps some investment property. They may visit stores to purchase items they like. Jewelry will be selected as both ornament and investment.  Fear of owning property is an interesting wrinkle in an otherwise normal listing of phobias.

The Cause of Orthophobia

This particular fear may be a learned response to religious, political or philosophical reasoning. Let me explain.

In many world religions there are overtures to a commune style of living. In this lifestyle no one owns anything and all things are provided for by the religious order. The common goals of the religious group allows for mutual caretaking.

In politics a similar idea can be expressed in communist and even socialist political ideals. This is a notion that all individuals should be considered equal and all should receive a similar amount to maintain life. All productive wealth is taken and then redistributed equally among the people.

In philosophy there may be the idea that personal property is of no consequence in comparison to the freedom of experiencing life. To possess personal property is to simply hold you back from the ability to go where the next experience takes you.

The fear arises when an individual then equates personal property as a thing to be avoided. By avoiding personal property a sense of fear can develop. That fear can make it difficult, if not impossible, for the orthophobe to accept gifts or buy anything other than perhaps food and clothing.

Symptoms of Orthophobia

This particular fear may sometimes appear to be contentment. These individuals will insist they really don’t need anything, but the fear is exposed when a gift is given anyway. At the very least the gift will be returned, but it may also cause the individual to express fear and an urge to flee.

Other symptoms include…

  • Air hunger
  • Nausea
  • Angry outbursts
  • Trembling
  • Panic attacks
  • Fainting

It is possible you can go through life and never experience someone with this fear, but if you’re reading this and have this fear then you know the sense of panic you feel when a transfer of property ownership (large or small) is offered.

How to Overcome Orthophobia

This fear can be tempered by acknowledging that materialism may not be in the best interest of individuals. It is OK to consider the time you will spend in upkeep on any property you own. It might even be justifiable to desire a life where less is more. The fear comes when there is a complete disconnect between the benefit in personal property ownership and the overriding fear that says ‘you can’t have it’. This can also cause you to look unfavorably on anyone who does own property causing additional damage to social connections.

Balance will be key in allowing you to understand that some personal property is needed. This should never preclude you from accepting a gift graciously or buying something on occasion that you simply like. A therapist or support group may be able to help you manage this fear.

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