Fear of Long Words
return to Overcoming Fear
When you look at the word hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, some people might experience fear and anxiety. That would be a normal reaction to hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia because it really means fear of long words. This is not to be confused with Verbophobia, which is the profound fear of words. There really are people who go into a full-blown panic attach when they see a big word.
Today, we will explore this term and what people can do to have less fear and anxiety about long words. Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, which is pronounced “Hip-po-pot-o-mon-stro-ses-quip-ped-ali-o-phob-i-a” is also known as known as sesquipedalophobia and comes from comes from the word Hippopotamus and the phrase “Monster-Related Fear of Very Long Words”. This is why another medical term named Sesquipedaliophobia as it means fear of many syllables.
People may ask how fear of long words can affect their everyday lives. The answer is quite simple. If someone has a fear of long words, chances are they may experience other phobias that make their lives uncomfortable. Having phobias can make people avoid the very things they are afraid of and for many, this can reduce their full experience of life.
The American Psychiatric Association states that a phobia is an irrational and excessive fear of an object or situation and the fear can be unrelenting. People experience a range of symptoms when they have an anxiety attack that is caused by a phobia which may include difficult time breathing and shortness of breath, chest pains, heart palpitations, erratic pulse, shaking, weakness and numbness in extremities, hot flashes, chills, nausea, sweating, and dizziness. Though these symptoms are not harmful, they can feel devastating for the person who is experiencing the phobia.
There are three types of phobias:
Social phobias: fear of social situations and public speaking and entertaining.
Agoraphobia: fear of being trapped in an inescapable place or situation.
Specific phobias: fear of a specific things such as spiders, snakes, heights and of course long words.
It is important to note that a phobia is often associated with a number of other mental health issues such as anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Though it is true, almost all of us have some sort of irrational fear, the fear of long words is rarely heard of and though there is no data how many people suffer from this, there are many people that suffer from this phobia.
In order to understand a phobias, one must first start what fear is and how it works. Fear is sort of like a contagious flu. It can spread like wildfire if you are not careful. Fear can transform itself into phobia. Fear paralyzes us and stops us cold in our tracks. Most days, fear doesn’t take no for an answer and just consumes you.
Fear can create a chemical release to cause our body to undergo a series of very dramatic changes. Our respiratory rate increases, our muscles tighten, awareness intensifies and our perception of pain diminishes. We tend to perceive everything in our environment as a possible threat to our survival, even the people who are helping us. We tend to see everyone and everything as a possible enemy. We may overreact to the slightest comment, our fear is exaggerated. Our thinking is distorted. Fear becomes the lens through which we see the world; we see everything through the filter of possible danger.
Fear of using long words is a condition of the mind normally produced from a previous negative experience with a failed attempt to learn a large word. It can also be caused by fear of embarrassment in pronouncing words wrong. Like many fear, some people may have fear of long words because according to editor Leslie Ford, many people only have a seventh grade reading and writing level and the use of long words can produce fear and anxiety.
Other people may experience fear because they have set ideas of what a long word is. They often see long words as medical or scientific terms and they do not understand these concepts. Many people just aren’t very fond of reading or using long words, especially scientific or technical ones. Then there is the fact that if you use a long word, you might have to spell a long word. Fear of misspelling a word is known as ortographobia and this phobia might go hand in hand with hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia.
Another reason people may have a fear of long words is they really do not like having to use a dictionary to look up a word. For some, it can create panic if they can’t spell it to look it up. For others, it is just not worth the time to look up a word they may only use once or twice in their lifetime.
Other reasons people develop fear of long words is they fear that they are not intelligent. They become anxious because they fear they will be judged by others. This can create a problem for those who lack confidence and low self-esteem.
Now that we have explored why people have phobias around long words, let’s look at some ways people can overcome this fear. As we know, our fear can really get the best of us creating pathologies such a phobias. What is important to remember with any phobia, millions of people are able to overcome their phobias.
Simple or very specific phobias are often treated with behavior therapy known as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and is a modality that has been very successful in treating phobias. This type of therapy is based on based on the concept that we all have thoughts and our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors. This form of therapy works with changing the thought that is causing the irrational fear.
EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) has been also called “psychological acupressure” can be used to help with phobias. Practitioners who use EFT believe that negative emotions are caused by a disruption in the body’s energy system. Practitioners tap on certain meridians and tell the client to say something such as “Even though there are things that terrify me, I deeply and profoundly love and accept myself.” Many people feel relief rapidly and can be taught this technique to do themselves.
Other ways in treating fear of long words can include meditation, hypnotherapy, biofeedback, desensitization, and traditional counseling. The important concept to try to get when you have a fear of long words is to try to challenge your thinking and change how you feel about the irrational fear.
There are many people who suffer from the fear of long word and there are treatments that can help people overcome this fear and feel comfortable around words that are long. By using one of the methods that was described, people can win the battle of fear of long words. The challenge is not the phobia, but being opened to new information about the phobia.