Big events or celebrations are part of almost all cultures around the globe.
The Kumbh Mela which is a major pilgrimage in India, is celebrated every 12 years. It’s a week-long celebration, with the single largest attendance reached 30 million in a single day!
When Pope Franc is visited the Philippines in 2015, an estimated 6-7 million attended a mass in Rizal Park, making it the largest papal crowd in history.
Both are just two examples of large events that a person with Enochlophobia will dread to be a part of. Because a person with Enochlophobia is someone who “has an irrational fear of large crowds and gatherings of people.”
Signs and Symptoms of Enochlophobia
- A demophobe (a person suffering from enochlophobia) exhibit different symptoms which vary from every individual. Those symptoms can be physical, mental or emotional. Below are some of the examples of signs that a person with enochlophobia may exhibit:
- Going to great lengths to avoid large crowds and fleeing from it.
- Mild to severe anxiety at the thought of being "trapped" in a large crowd.
- Feeling of being choked or having a hard time breathing.
- Increased heart rate or even palpitations, feeling of throwing up, and gastrointestinal problems.
- Excessive sweating, mild-shaking or trembling at a sight of a crowd build-up.
- Many demophobe believes that he or she will be trampled or crushed in a large crowd. The fear of being exposed to all kinds of germs and deadly viruses, due to close contact with a large crowd, is certain in their beliefs. Also, the fear and insecurity of getting lost and feeling small in such a large crowd, play into their minds.
Causes and Common Triggers of Enochlophobia
There are many causes of enochlophobia, just like in other known phobias. While a single cause is possible, experts believe many factors could trigger enochlophobia in an individual.
Here are some of the causes:
- A traumatic experience involving a crowd (e.g., being injured in a stampede in a concert or sports event, or trapped in the middle of an unruly crowd)
- Witnessing other people going through a traumatic experience in a crowd (e.g., watching a person injured or trapped in a crowd)
- A traumatic experience as a child, such as being lost or separated from a parent or loved one in a crowded place.
- Having overprotective parents.
Treatments of Enochlophobia
For mild cases of enochlophobia, self-help is sometimes the best option for treatment. Experts agree that certain practices or exercises, can be done by a person suffering from this condition, and these are the following:
Focusing on breathing. Breathing exercises to handle anxiety.
Just like a person with an allergy, a gradual exposure to the stimuli can help in overcoming the fear of large crowds. Attending smaller group events until larger events no longer incite fear.
A friend or loved one tagging along for physical and emotional support may help ease the worries and soon the fear of the crowd itself.
These are advisable for patients with a mild form of enochlophobia. For severe cases, the following therapies are highly recommended by experts:
For most phobias, exposure therapy is said to be the most successful. There are several studies conducted about treatments of phobias using imaginal exposure. This means for people with Enochlophobia, they will be gradually exposed to images of different gatherings of crowds.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This is another form of treatment for persons with phobias. It is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve mental health. What it does is it helps the patient to challenge or change their thoughts or beliefs, in addressing their problems. This treatment was originally meant to treat depression, but has since been expanded to treat other conditions including anxiety, which is common and exhibited by most or all phobic people.
Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT)
In this type of therapy, the patient is given a simulated experience using computer programs and artificially created environments. They use Virtual Reality gadgets to provide the patient a controlled stimuli as part of the treatment. They then monitor the patient’s reaction. It’s a series of VR-based treatment where it involves adjusting the virtual environment. Replaying virtual scenes multiple times with or without adjustment depending on the patient's reaction. In this case, a virtual environment of a large crowd will be set-up for the patient.
Societal and Cultural Impact of Enochlophobia
Just like other persons suffering from different types of phobias, a demophobe may find it hard to function normally in society. Avoiding concerts, movies, sports events, and the like, may make life a bit more difficult. It may result in a person to avoid people altogether and prefer to be alone or a recluse.
How Common Is Enochlophobia?
Enochlophobia is a form of social anxiety and is said to be a common phobia. In a Psychology Today interview, Dr. Signe Dayhoff stated that almost 20 million individuals at any one time suffer from some form of social anxiety. And the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that about 6.8% of US adults suffer from social phobias such as Enochlophobia.
What Should You Do If You Have Enochlophobia?
If you find yourself suffering from a mild form of enochlophobia, self-help practices such as breathing exercises, asking a close friend or family member for support, or gradually attending small events may help your condition. However, if you have a more severe form and believe you can no longer function normally, you may need to seek professional help.
As we know that enochlophobia is a form of a social anxiety disorder, it needs to be addressed and treated as soon as possible. There are many ways to overcome this condition, and successful treatments have been documented for persons not only with enochlophobia, but similar social anxiety disorders. The best way is to seek treatment so you or anyone you know, that has this condition will be able to live a healthy life, free from irrational fear of crowds.