Most people dislike being stared at. It’s uncomfortable enough to leave anyone feeling self-conscious and wondering if there is anything on h7yy7his or her face that another person may have noticed. But if there’s actual intense fear involved where a person is afraid of being the focus of other people’s scrutinizing eyes, and it invokes disturbing emotions such as anxiety, then this may very well be scopophobia.
“Working to clear out a phobia will not remove the natural fear you have that is there to keep you safe and alive. Removing one’s fear of heights will not make them long for bungee jumping, though certainly that might become something they choose to do. What removing the fear will do is allow you to choose, rather than being flooded with an emotional reaction that becomes debilitating.” – Marlon Familton, LMHC.
“What is scopophobia,” you might ask. Scopophobia or Scoptophobia is anxiety and social disorder where a person experiences an overwhelming fear of being stared at or watched.
How to Spot the Symptoms
So you naturally feel discomfort whenever you draw attention to yourself but if it’s accompanied by an unsettling feeling clawing at you whenever you feel like being you’re watched, then you may be phobic. Your body and your mind’s response to the circumstance may help identify whether or not you have scopophobia.
Once placed in a situation where all eyes are focused on you, you feel unadulterated terror and a wave of irrational panic crashes over you. Your heartbeat races and you start experiencing shortness of breath. The knot in your stomach tightens that you feel like throwing up, and your nerves and muscles are losing sensation. Your mouth becomes dry, your throat constricted, and every part of your body trembles like a gong struck hard with a mallet. You go through a momentary detachment from reality.
When any or all of these symptoms strike at the most inopportune moment all because you see a person’s or several people’s eyes locked on you, then you have scopophobia.
Identifying Your Fear and Its Causes
There is no general cause of scopophobia. It differs from every individual. Your fear may have stemmed from a traumatic experience, like being subjected to scrutiny while attempting to speak in public, or someone may have humiliated you in front of so many people that the memory of having eyes on you have left a negative mark in your psyche.
Having low esteem may make you susceptible to scopophobia. The lack of confidence prevents you from looking people in the eye, so you feel incredibly agitated when others look at you.
This phobia may be reinforced by other social disorders such as autism, stage fright or fear, and public speaking. Like any other phobia, scopophobia is often the result of exaggerated thoughts.
Is There Treatment Available?
“The good news is that you can do something about it,” assures Robert L. Leahy Ph.D.
Several methods are available to help treat scopophobia. The most common way is helping people deal with their fear, and this is often done through a series of therapies. Jor-El Caraballo, LMHC, says, “Getting help is often a difficult step — due to the pervasive stigma around mental health — but unfortunately phobias (as well as other mental health conditions) rarely get better on their own.”
Exposure is one of the most common strategies used in managing most phobias. This involves exposing you to your source of fear. This can be done gradually, increasing intensity as you progress. Your therapist may start exposing you to photographs and videos to train your mind in tolerating situations that trigger your fears typically.
Behavior therapy involves desensitizing from the usual effects of the symptoms.
Hypnotherapy or hypnosis has been used as an efficient way to treat most phobias. The process involves discovering the underlying cause for the fear and eradicating the usual response to the stimuli.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most practiced form of therapy integrated into a treatment plan for helping individuals deal with phobias.
Energy psychology may be an ideal therapy for individuals suffering from any form of phobia as it follows a rapid and safe process that may have a long-lasting effect. It combines approaches of other therapies with holistic techniques of healing. It has the same groundwork as acupuncture, but no needles are involved.
Scopophobia is a social handicap that prevents a person from socializing. If this isn’t dealt with or you don’t learn how to overcome your fear, it can affect your way of living. You don’t have to suffer the consequences. Help is always available.