Peniaphobia: Don’t We All Have It?




I have an aunt who everyone thinks is crazy. She has weird behaviors when it comes to money. I know we all do, but hers is very odd. To think she has a decent job, and I can say she is doing well. One day, I remember her feeling nervous. She was walking back and forth the dining area of her house, and she seemed bothered by something. I meant to ask her, but she looked like she didn’t want to be disturbed.


Later, I heard her talking to someone on the phone, and she was borrowing money. I was surprised! Why is she borrowing money? Is there a problem that I didn’t know? The woman she was talking to seemed to agree on lending her $50, and I was like, “What, $50! All that distress over 50!”


It made me mad thinking how odd the situation was. My aunt didn’t seem to need the money. Her fridge is full, and she doesn’t have children! She even has savings. I had to ask, or it will torment me until I find out why.

“Phobias and obsessional behaviors are a frequent presentation seen in the consulting room and are very often associated with clients who have high functioning occupations or media involvement, either in front of or behind the camera.” – Peter Finlay, Ph.D.

I asked her what she needed the money for, and she seemed calm. She opened her wallet, and I saw it still had another $50 in it. She said she’s afraid that it might run out of money, and she shivers every time that happens.


“Why!” I asked her.


“I don’t know. It just happens to me. I can’t run out of money. I feel like I’m going to die if I do.” She responded.


I couldn’t sleep that night, so I turned on my laptop to try to search for her condition. I knew it wasn’t normal, and she needed help. I mean, we all do worry about money at one point, but I’ve never seen anyone like her. That night I found out about a phobia called peniaphobia. I thought she might have it since the descriptions fit her.


What Is Peniaphobia?

“If you have a phobia, you probably realize that your fear is irrational, yet you still can’t control your feelings. Just thinking about the feared object or situation may make you anxious.” – Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. 

Peniaphobia is the fear of losing money. It is an extremely pessimistic reaction to the thought of losing it. We all do need the money and at some point in our lives worrying about it, but people with this kind of condition or phobia may display exaggerated behavior or reaction to losing money. Sometimes, they act as if they’re dying, or their lives depend on it.






 What Are The Symptoms Of Peniaphobia?


  • Panic And Anxiety
  • Shortness Of Breath
  • Irregular Breathing
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea And Vomiting
  • Dry Mouth
  • Stuttering
  • Shaking


What Is The Treatment For Peniaphobia?


There is no right medication for peniaphobia. Doctors prescribe drugs such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, and benzodiazepines to treat the symptoms of anxiety, palpitations, nervousness, and sweating.






These drugs only have a temporary relief to the symptoms of peniaphobia. After the effect of the drug has subsided, they can all happen again, so doctors recommend that the patient deal with what’s causing the phobia.


What Is The Cause Of Peniaphobia?


Like other phobias, peniaphobia may have been from traumatic experiences that have caused a person to fear to go through the same situation again.

“If you get really overwhelmed by the thought of tackling your phobia,” explained John Grohol, PsyD., “then the desensitization technique may be right for you. All you do is gradually expose yourself to the dreaded thing or situation, and then withdraw when your anxiety becomes excessive.”

In the case of my aunt, I learned that she had a colleague who died in the hospital because no one would want to help provide her medical needs. Her condition required quite an amount of money, and she spent all her life savings trying to get better, but she never did.


So how can my aunt confront her fear? The experience that triggered her phobia never directly happened to her. I told her to see a therapist to help her with her condition because it isn’t normal to act the way she does when she’s running out of money. I mean, everyone does act out, but a person with peniaphobia is different. You could tell that there is something very wrong and that person needs professional help.