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Facts about Pediophobia (Fear of Dolls)

Facts about Pediophobia (Fear of Dolls)

People suffering from pediophobia are terrified after seeing a doll. Just the sight of a doll can make them scream incessantly. The following Buzzle article elaborates on pediophobia, the fear of dolls.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Did You Know?
The word 'pediophobia' comes from the Greek word paidion meaning 'little child'.

When we were kids, our parents often used dolls to amuse us. Dolls have long been a source of entertainment for children. Often, kids talk to their dolls, give them names, groom them, play with them, and even share secrets with these imaginary friends. However, some are actually scared of dolls, so much that they run away at the sight of these harmless toys. This is a psychological issue, commonly referred to as pediophobia.

What is Pediophobia?

  • Pediophobia refers to the hypothetical fear about dolls. Seeing a doll makes the phobic person believe that he is in some sort of danger, despite being safe.
  • This phobia belongs to the class of automatonophobia, fear of inanimate objects (puppets, wax figures, dolls, animatronics) that wrongly emulate the characteristics of living beings.
  • In pediophobia, the affected person might be scared of just one type of doll, such as the ones that can talk and walk or a variety of dolls that include porcelain dolls and china dolls. Pediophobia is a childhood phobia but if not treated, it continues even in adulthood.
  • Quite a few adults with this phobia are even scared of kids.

Symptoms

  • The sight of a doll can wreak havoc on the emotional well-being of people suffering from pediophobia. It is a distressing experience for these people.
  • Commonly, these people scream, cry, or run away on seeing a doll, with the fear that it may harm them. The starry eyes of the doll give them goose bumps or an eerie feeling. Other symptoms that may occur in pediophobia patients on the sight of a doll, include:

    • Hyperventilation
    • Sweating
    • Dry mouth
    • Nauseous feeling
    • Increased heart rate
    • Shivering
  • In rare cases, the sight of dolls can cause complete loss of physical and emotional control among phobic people, which is an indication of a severe panic attack.

Causes


Traumatic Events in the Past

  • A past incident that scared the individual and which is somehow related to dolls, seems to be one of the most common reasons behind pediophobia. So each time the individual encounters a doll, it reminds him of that past traumatic event.
  • Genetic factors such as heredity, brain chemistry, and tendency to think negatively about dolls may also contribute to the development of pediophobia

Psychological

  • A psychological reason given to explain this irrational fear is that the phobic person believes that the non-living doll will become alive. It is this creepy thought (although nonsensical) that makes them worry and feel anxious. The phobic person is unsure whether the doll has life in it.
  • He tends to perceive the doll as something living. This strange feeling might be responsible for creating a fear of dolls. Hollywood films such as Child's Play that have depicted dolls in a negative light might also be responsible for some considering dolls as an object of fear.

Uncanny Valley Hypothesis

  • Masahiro Mori, the Japanese roboticist has also tried to explain the reason behind the fear of dolls through his uncanny valley hypothesis. The roboticist studied the emotional response of individuals when they notice inanimate objects showing human-like features.
  • Mori suggested that when non-living things such as dolls, puppets, mannequins, and robots emulate the characteristics of humans, we react positively as they look familiar to us. However, there is a limit to this positive response. As we start noticing the imperfections in these human-like objects such as the absence of breathing, lack of human touch, or dolls sitting idly and staring blankly at the viewer, it triggers a negative reaction and we may respond with revulsion.
  • These minor 'flaws' in these non-living objects give an eerie feeling. This abrupt dip in emotional response that turns into revulsion is referred to as 'uncanny valley' by Mori. The uncanny valley represents a strong negative response to objects that are more like humans.

Treatment

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a clinically proven way to treat various types of phobia. In this form of therapy, the patient is advised to change his thought pattern and focus more on positive thoughts. Shunning negative thoughts that link to fear of dolls can be helpful to manage this phobia.

Relaxation
Learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can work wonders to alleviate the anxiety associated with pediophobia. Other techniques such as visualization in which the phobic person visualizes a comforting scene or place, can also help treat pediophobia.

Exposure Therapy
This is a form of behavior therapy in which the feared object is intentionally brought in front of the patient. At the first instance, the patient is bound to feel anxious. However, upon repeated exposure to the object, the person might have better control over his uncomfortable feelings, which may help in reducing the fear of dolls.

Psychotherapy
Taking the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist and discussing issues pertaining to your phobia, can help identify the underlying cause. With regular counseling, you will have better control over your feelings, moods, and behavior. This in turn may contribute in coping with pediophobia.

Antianxiety Medications
Well, this form of treatment is applicable only to adults who have not yet overcome their irrational fear of dolls. The phobic person may be advised to take antianxiety medications to relieve that uncanny feeling associated with dolls. Keep in mind that there is no research to suggest that antianxiety medicines are effective in the treatment of pediophobia. So one has to first consult a doctor before using antianxiety pills for pediophobia.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.