For some, Halloween is all about dressing up and eating too many sweets. But for others, it can set off their fears and phobias, including Samhainophobia – a phobia of Halloween itself (yes, it is a real phobia). Christopher Paul Jones, the Breakthrough Expert, shares his top tips for how to confront your deepest, darkest fears…
There are a number of likely causes for developing a phobia of Halloween, including religious beliefs (fearing Halloween due to its connotations with evil); social phobias brought on by trick-or-treating, knocking on doors and talking to strangers (all of which can create fear in some children, especially if they have had bad experiences, like being told to get off the doorstep) and, of course, the sheer number of fear-inducing activities associated with All Hallows’ Eve.
Although Samhainophobia itself isn’t that common, these seven Halloween-related phobias have many people under their grip, but it IS possible to break free
1. Nyctophobia: fear of the dark
While this one is more common amongst children (most children grow out of it as they get older), there are still many adults affected by a fear of the dark.
This fear can be created from not being able to see what’s in the shadows or not knowing how to find your way out if you get scared or trapped. It can also come from our primitive brain that tells us that we need to avoid predators in the night.
Horror movies also like to use the darkness to create fear, and this just reinforces the fear.
2. Necrophobia: fear of anything to do with death
For example, coffins, graveyards, bones, and corpses etc. Unfortunately, if your phobia is triggered by representations of death, then Halloween is definitely a difficult time for you.
This phobia can also be triggered by a traumatic experience, such as attending the funeral of your grandparents, or the pain of bereavement.
3. Arachnophobia: fear of spiders
Spiders is one of the biggest phobias with 55% of women and 18% of men having this fear.
If somebody has a fear of spiders it tends to stimulate feelings of disgust and repulsion which trigger a fear response in them. It’s believed that this is formed around us having an aversion to creatures that look alien and have fewer similarities to humans. Or even a fear of being harmed by a spider.
A spider phobia can also be triggered from your parents. For example, if you watched your mum jump up and scream when she saw a spider, it’s then likely to create a phobia in you.
4. Ophidiophobia: fear of snakes
It’s said one-in-three people have this fear and, as with spiders, it’s often linked to the fear of being harmed or the rather alien way they look and move. It’s thought it could be linked to our evolution where we are hardwired to avoid these types of creatures.
5. Lachanophobia: fear of vegetables
Having a carved-out pumpkin is another Halloween essential. But it’s not the carved-out face that creates the fear for some people – it’s the vegetables themselves.
The cause of this fear normally stems from childhood experiences of being forced to eat vegetables and being repulsed by them or even feeling sick from them.
6. Maskaphobia: fear of masks or costumes
Like many other fears, this can be created by a past negative event i.e. been scared as a child by someone in a costume.
It can also come from a fear of the unknown, such as not being able to see a person’s real face. Seeing somebody with a fixed, unchanging expression can also create a phobia of masks. Halloween costumes are often made to be scary, so it’s no surprise that people can be frightened by them and that this fear can stay with them in later life.
7. Hemophobia: fear of blood
Having a fear of blood is quite common; it’s linked to our fear of pain, injury or death. This phobia can be strong if you had an injury in the past or watched somebody else go through the pain. It can also be created from watching horror or crime movies as a child.
Phobias: What you can do
The good news is, there are plenty of things that you can do to fix your phobia.
I find the most effective methods with my clients for removing any of these phobias are treatments that involve cross-lateral stimulation and self-soothing such as eye movement processes, or processes that find the cause of the fear and scramble the old triggers, such as the rewind process, time-line methods, or clinical hypnosis.
The first step though is to find the starting point of your phobia: When did I first create this fear? How old was I? And what was happening at the time? What is it I need to believe to feel this fear?
Once you have done this, then changing your Halloween phobias will be a lot easier.
Christopher Paul Jones, aka The Breakthrough Expert, is a therapist based in Harley Street who specialises in helping people let go of their fears, anxieties and even their phobias; from a fear of public speaking to anxieties around work. Find out more at christopherpauljones.net or find videos for helping to cure your phobias at breakthroughexperttv.com