Alektorophobia (Fear of Chickens)
What is alektorophobia?
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), phobias fall under the category of anxiety disorders. A phobia is an excessive, irrational and uncontrollable fear of an animal, object, person, activity, environment or situation. The focus of the phobia presents little or no true danger. So, the fear is disproportionate with reality. Phobia sufferers typically know their fear is unwarranted. But they can’t stop it or conquer it. Alektorophobia is fear of chickens. In Greek, ‘alektor’ means rooster and ‘phobia’ means fear. It’s a rare phobia.
Alektorophobia is a simple, or specific phobia. This means it is specific to chickens, not any other bird or animal. Simple phobias are the most common type of phobia. The APA estimates that up to 9% of Americans have some type of simple phobia.
Alektorophobia causes an extreme and overwhelming fear of chickens. Just the thought of a chicken or a picture of a chicken can cause fear in some people. Though rare, it can also translate into fear of food dishes containing chicken.
What are the symptoms of alektorophobia?
Alektorophobia symptoms can include both physical and psychological reactions. They can also range from mild to severe and sometimes even incapacitating. The physical symptoms of phobias relate to the anxiety the fear causes. Fear provokes a ‘fight-or-flight’ response with adrenaline as its fuel.
Common physical symptoms of alektorophobia include:
- Fast heart rate or palpitations
- Shakiness, trembling or sweating
Other alektorophobia symptoms include:
- Avoidance of chickens or images of chickens
- Awareness of the irrationality of being afraid of chickens
- Guilt, shame or self-blame about being afraid of chickens
- Inability to control or overcome the fear of chickens
- Panic or dread at the thought or sight of chickens
- Overwhelming need to get away from a chicken
Children who have simple phobias may cry or throw a temper tantrum when confronted with the phobia trigger.
While fear of chickens may simply be annoying for some people, in others it can disrupt their lives. If your fear is interfering with your ability to function normally, see your doctor. Early intervention offers the best chance of resolving the phobia.
What causes alektorophobia?
Experts do not have a full understanding of what causes phobias, including alektorophobia. Research suggests there may be a genetic component. However, environmental factors probably play a role as well. In some cases, fear of chickens is based on a specific negative or scary experience. A region of the brain—the amygdala—records your reaction to this experience. When you see or encounter a chicken again, the amygdala remembers and reminds you of the fear you felt.
However, many people can’t link their fear to a specific experience. They’re just afraid. In this case, personality traits, temperament, and other inherited factors may be involved. Researchers can’t say for sure because fears can also be learned behaviors from your family. This makes it difficult to separate what’s learned and what’s inherited.
What are the treatments for alektorophobia?
Everyone has fears, but not all fear needs treatment. Sometimes, people outgrow their fears or are able to conquer them on their own. This is not a phobia. Phobias are persistent and overwhelming fears. They are real anxiety disorders and are not signs of weakness or immaturity. Teasing or ridiculing someone about a phobia can worsen the problem and cause more guilt and shame. Early medical intervention is often more successful in treating the fear than waiting to get help.
Doctors recommend treating phobias when they interfere with your daily life. This includes your ability to function normally at work, school, or in social situations. The most effective alektorophobia treatments are psychotherapy methods including:
- Cognitive behavior therapy, which teaches you how to identify and change unhealthy thoughts, emotions and behaviors. The process involves talking about your fear and learning new beliefs about it. The goal is to build confidence in yourself and take the control away from the fear. Therapists may use this method in combination with exposure therapy.
- Exposure therapy or desensitization therapy, which gradually and repeatedly exposes you to your fear of chickens under controlled situations. For severe phobias, this may just involve thinking about chickens. Using anxiety-reducing techniques, you will learn to face the fear until you master it. Then, you will gradually encounter more intense situations with chickens. The goal is to learn that you can control the fear instead of it controlling you.
Medications can also be useful in managing simple phobias. They may be appropriate for short-term use when you are first starting psychotherapy. However, doctors usually reserve them for phobias involving temporary situations, such as fear of public speaking. For chronic phobias, psychotherapy offers the most long-lasting relief.
Like any simple phobia, alektorophobia can take a toll on its sufferers. Complications of untreated phobias include:
- Social isolation, which can lead to loneliness and difficulty with work, school, and personal relationships
- Substance abuse, including alcohol abuse and drug addiction in an effort to relieve or manage fear