Philophobia is characterized by an obsession and excessive fear of love. This syndrome is considered a “defensive mechanism” from past negative experiences. Because of its psychological roots, Philophobia is often treated with psychotherapy.
What is fear of love?
Love brings a full range of emotions from happiness, joy, excitement to sadness, despair and pain. Unlike other emotions, love appears in a strange and sometimes uncontrollable way. Before the temptation of love, many people avoid it out of fear of being deceived and suffering, but this is not the same as philophobia.
Lovephobia is a term that refers to an irrational, persistent fear of love and the fear of falling in love with someone. The mechanism and manifestations of this syndrome are quite similar to those of phobic anxiety disorders such as fear of blood, fear of heights, fear of distances, etc. However, Philophobia has not been recognized as the main psychological syndrome. in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Although not recognized as a psychological disorder, the fear of falling in love affects quite a few people. Currently, there are no statistics on the percentage of people suffering from Philophobia syndrome, but experts predict, this number is not small. Similar to other psychological problems, this syndrome has profound effects on quality of life and requires medical examination and attention.
Recognizing the fear of love (Philophobia)
Fear of love has symptoms quite similar to phobias, which is an excessive fear and obsession with objects/situations that are not really dangerous. People with this syndrome are often phobias, excessive fear of love and fear of falling into an emotional relationship.
Unlike the usual fear of love, phobias cause intense and uncontrollable fear. This fear leads to many annoyances and interferes with the patient’s life.
Symptoms commonly seen in people with the fear of love (Philophobia):
- There’s a nagging, lingering fear when thinking about love
- Always avoid and refuse to develop emotional relationships
- Fear of falling in love with someone and fear of being in a loving relationship
- Tends to avoid people who treat them special
- Try to control your own emotions for fear that you will be shaken
- Avoid conversations about love, avoid places with couples such as cinemas, wedding ceremonies, and public places
- Some people tend to be socially isolated, secluded, and less social due to the fear of developing feelings for someone.
When it comes to talking about love or someone proposes to love, people with phobia of love will experience intense fear accompanied by symptoms such as:
- Extreme panic
- Shortness of breath
- Heart beat fast
- Avoid and quickly move away from fear-inducing situations such as conversations, weddings, marriage proposals, etc.
- Angina pain
- Digestive disorders (abdominal pain, indigestion, stomach pain, …)
- Sometimes there is a feeling of detachment, paralysis
However, there are also individual cases where the patient has an ambiguous and unclear relationship with many people but does not want to enter into an official relationship. Patients with agoraphobia may also have concomitant anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder and panic disorder.
Causes of fear of love syndrome
The fear of falling in love is considered to be the result of many factors. To date, experts have not determined the cause of Philophobia. However, several factors have been identified to be involved in developing an irrational fear of love:
- Negative experiences in the past: Experts say that phobias are made up of psychological trauma and negative emotions. Fear of love often occurs in people who have been abandoned or emotionally abused by their parents. These experiences create an unconscious defense mechanism that causes the patient to become fearful and obsessive about love.
- Trauma: In addition to negative past experiences, dealing with traumatic events such as betrayal, divorce, and harsh rejection can also increase your risk of developing the syndrome. fear of love. In addition, these traumatic events also increase the risk of stress, depression and many other psychological problems.
- Cultural influences: In many cultures, love is taboo and marriage must be done by family arrangement. Because of the fear of violating moral and social norms, many people develop a fear of love and always fear that they will fall in love with someone.
- Family upbringing: Family upbringing also contributes to the development of phobia of love. Many families are afraid that their children will fall in love early, sowing wrong thoughts to their children. This inadvertently causes children to grow up being overly obsessed with love, having no need for love, and afraid of developing a crush on someone.
- Abnormalities in brain activity: In fact, many people are afraid of love and choose a single life. However, they themselves are not fearful in an extreme way and do not have the same physical symptoms as those with phobias. Therefore, experts believe that an overactive amygdala and an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain play a role in the development of Philophobia syndrome.
Fear of love syndrome and its severe effects
When failing too many times in love, many people choose the single life because they do not want to suffer. However, this mentality is completely normal and is not diagnosed as a fear of love. People with this syndrome are not only afraid of love, but also have avoidant behaviors, social isolation and lack of communication leading to many troubles in life.
Excessive obsession with love causes the patient to avoid many potential objects of love. Therefore, the scope of the patient’s relationships is often very limited. The patient is mostly close to his family and a few friends he has known for a long time.
Love is a part of life, so patients cannot completely avoid conversations or situations where love, couples, etc. negative exposure often. Without solutions, patients are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs and develop psychological problems such as anxiety disorders and depression.
In general, phobias have a big impact on quality of life – especially relationships. People with this syndrome are often uncomfortable in meetings, have low self-esteem, shyness and poor communication skills. Therefore, Philophobia affects more or less occupational and psychosocial functioning.
Diagnosing the fear of love (Philophobia)
The fear of falling in love is not recognized as an official psychological disorder. Therefore, DSM-5 has no specific diagnostic criteria for this syndrome. Usually, doctors make the general diagnosis of phobias and anxiety disorder.
Similar to phobia and anxiety disorder, Philophobia syndrome is only diagnosed when the patient has a persistent, irrational fear of situations/objects that are not really dangerous. Fear of domination leads to avoidant behaviors and this significantly affects other aspects of life.
In addition, the doctor will also order some laboratory tests to rule out physical diseases, substance addictions and mental disorders with similar manifestations. In general, the diagnosis of phobias depends a lot on the experience of the individual doctor.
How to overcome fear of love effectively
The fear of love has many effects on school, work, and relationships. In addition, negative emotions and obsession with love can develop other psychological problems such as generalized anxiety disorder, depression, etc.
To treat the fear of love, the patient will be considered some of the following methods:
1. Psychotherapeutic intervention
The fear of love comes from feelings of pain, despair and obsession because of being abandoned, abused, and abused in love. Therefore, the best solution for this syndrome is psychotherapy. This method is also the first choice when treating anxiety disorders such as photophobia, fear of blood, fear of the sea, etc.
Psychotherapy is carried out in the form of communication between the specialist and the patient. Experts will rely on the psychology of each case to determine the appropriate intervention direction.
For Philophobia, the two most effective therapies are systematic desensitization and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Although highly effective, psychotherapy often takes a long time. Therefore, it requires patients to be persistent in treatment to achieve positive results.
Systemic desensitization therapy:
Systemic desensitization is commonly used in the treatment of phobic anxiety disorders. In this therapy, the therapist will teach the patient relaxation techniques to reduce stress and learn how to deal with fear.
The patient is then gradually exposed to the situation/object that causes fear. The doctor will gradually increase the level so that the patient learns to adapt instead of trying to avoid as before. Through systematic desensitization, the patient can remove the fear of love or at least reduce the phobia.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT):
CBT is often combined with systemic desensitization therapy for best results. Cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to help patients identify and change negative thoughts about love. Through changing thoughts, the patient will reduce excessive obsessions and fears.
During therapy, the therapist will try to find the source of the fear. Overcoming fear from negative past experiences will help patients manage their obsessions and excessive fears about love. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be done in pairs or groups to increase effectiveness.
2. Drug use
The drug is considered for use when the patient presents with stress, anxiety and depression. In addition, certain medications can also be used short-term to relieve physical symptoms.
Drugs to be considered for the treatment of phobias:
- Serotonin reuptake inhibitors
- Benzodiazepine tranquilizers
- Beta blockers
Medications only provide temporary relief of the physical and mental symptoms associated with agoraphobia. To overcome this syndrome, the patient must undergo psychotherapy.
3. Support measures
The fear of love makes the patient prone to stress and pessimism. In addition, this syndrome also entails a number of physical health problems such as insomnia, cardiovascular problems, memory loss, headaches, etc. Therefore, patients should take some additional supportive measures. to improve fitness and better control fear.
Supportive measures for patients with fear of love syndrome:
- Equip relaxation measures to reduce stress and anxiety in life such as meditation, diaphragmatic breathing exercises, use of herbal tea, massage, yoga, etc.
- To avoid addiction to alcohol, tobacco and stimulants, patients should maintain a scientific lifestyle with a nutritious diet, adequate sleep, regular rest and regular exercise. In addition, patients should also limit overwork to prevent stress during this period.
- Limit your exposure to negative information about love. Instead, build trust by reading inspirational stories or talking to someone with a happy marriage.
- Make time for social activities and personal interests instead of locking yourself in the house.
Philophobia is a fairly common psychological syndrome, although it has not been recognized as an official psychological disorder. If you suspect that people around you have this syndrome, you should encourage the patient to be examined and treated. Because fear and unreasonable obsession with love can prevent them from finding their true partner.