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Philophobia treatment

Despite what some people may think, there’s no way to “just get over” severe phobias such as the fear of being in love, or falling in love. Even though the quest for love is an essential part of human life, people who develop a persistent, unwarranted fear of relationships often need professional help to be able to engage in normal relationships.

Not surprisingly, many phobias are linked to excessive stress, which in turn causes deep-seated anxieties such as philophobia, classified among a group of mental illnesses known as anxiety disorders. While no one is quite sure how phobias develop, there is more than enough medical evidence that conditions such as the fear of being in love can be treated successfully.

Let’s start with an overview of the treatments available for this type of phobia.

Systematic desensitization therapy. This approach involves exposing patients to the object or situation that he or she fears. Thanks to the computer age, some therapists now use virtual reality to create images of the feared objects. In the case of philophobia, a patient could engage in various “date” scenarios practicing their relationship skills with a computerized entity before going on a date with a live person.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy educates the patient about the cycle of negative thought patterns, and teaches techniques to change these thought patterns. One simple well-known CBT technique is simply to say “Stop!” aloud or mentally when negative thoughts emerge. Unlike other therapies for phobias, CBT may be conducted in a group setting, depending on the type of phobia. Combining CBT with gradual desensitization therapy is often more successful than using either method on its own. One clinical study found that 90 percent of patients suffered no observable phobic reactions after CBT treatments were completed.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This method has been shown to be effective in treatment specific phobias, but there’s little literature on whether it’s effective with philophobia. Mainly EMDR has been used to date to treat fears such as a fear of dogs after a dog bite, and post-traumatic stress disorder in those who experience war, crime or violence or natural disasters.

Hypnotherapy. Hypnosis has been shown to help remove the negative associations that can trigger panic attacks, as well as helping control smoking, overeating and other addictive behaviors. However, because hypnosis is founded in the patient giving up control to the therapist during treatment, its use in treating philophobia could be problematic.

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). This approach to psychotherapy has proven to be controversial. Co-founders Richard Bandler and John Grinder describe their process as an alternative therapy based on educating people in self-awareness and communication to change their emotional behaviors. The title refers to the founders’ belief in a connection among neurological processes (“neuro”), language (“linguistic”) and behavioral patterns that have been learned through experience (“programming”). NLP has been combined with hypnosis in therapy for phobias, but it remains outside conventional treatment for philophobia.

Antidepressant medications. Drugs such as selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) may be helpful in some cases of phobia to reduce severe physical and emotional symptoms.

Possible future and alternative treatments?

As psychology therapies work to lessen the symptoms of philophobia and its anxiety-disorder cousins, scientists continue to research the exact causes of the fear of love. This has led to several alternative treatments and theories. Most prominent among the latter is a school of thought known as “evolutionary psychology.”

Evolutionary psychology contends that human traits like perception, memory, or language result from natural selection or sexual selection. This theory is known as “adaptation,” a process that’s common in biology, but has only recently begun to be applied to psychology.

One of the quirks of most phobias is that there seems to be a familial or genetic tendency for some people to be more susceptible than others to phobias such as philophobia. Evolutionary psychologists also think that certain phobias may result from adaptation, such as Queen Elizabeth I’s resistance to marriage stemming from her father King Henry VIII executing her mother, Queen Anne Boleyn.

The process of natural selection, says evolutionary psychology, influenced the human brain to develop behaviors called psychological adaptations or thought processes called cognitive modules. For example, the ways that people learn languages, spot liars, avoid sexual intercourse with closely related kin, find food and make allies all appear to be behaviors that are beneficial to the continuance of the human species. This makes them “adaptations” according to evolutionary theory.

Harvard professor Steven Pinker, a primary proponent of the field, explains evolutionary psychology as “not a single theory but a large set of hypotheses” that “has also come to refer to a particular way of applying evolutionary theory to the mind, with an emphasis on adaptation, gene-level selection, and modularity.”

All of these explanations sound great to scientists, but what about the everyday Joes and Jills who suffer from philophobia. What does this mean to them? The answer may be in the development of alternative treatments that can help people learn new behaviors to stop or replace those thoughts and actions that cause them mental anguish.

One of these cutting-edge treatments is Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP. As mentioned in the above overview, psychologists still distrust NLP for several reasons. First, there have been few scientific studies into the effectiveness of NLP methods, and so far none with results that could be repeated independently by another scientist. Second, the practice of NLP began in the early 1970s, but to date has no formal accreditation process similar to that required for psychologist, psychiatrists and other specialists. This latter objection currently carries the most weight with psychological professionals, since legitimate therapists understand the fragile nature of the human psyche and how easily clumsy, misinformed or even malicious processes can damage it.

This concern is particularly acute with NLP and treatment of philophobia because NLP seeks to help individuals use self-talk to change their patterns of mental and emotional behavior. If that were all that’s needed to “cure” philophobia, then no one would fear falling in love anymore. However, anyone who suffers the anguish of this psychological condition knows that talking oneself out of it is insufficient to deal with his or her fears. Even when combined with hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming remains an unconventional treatment that should be carefully investigated before a philophobia patient agrees to try it.

Ed. note: These philophobia.info articles were written by a professional researcher, and not a psychologist. If you feel you can improve anything, please write in. And never take anything you read on the internet as qualified medical information.

5 Comments

  1. simon simon

    Should I go to health care to find more info

  2. Marc Moïni Marc Moïni

    I heard of Tipi (Technique d’identification sensorielle des peurs inconscientes, Technique for sensory identification of unconscious fears) just yesterday and I spent most of my day checking if I like it enough to recommend it. They claim it’s more than 90% effective at curing phobias, within minutes and without relapse.

    This video explains how to do it yourself (English subtitles):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFQzyOFaB2I

    I tried it on myself and I am more at ease now doing what used to terrify me (though I wasn’t aware of being afraid: letting something possibly carrying germs from people my dad would have thought of as “bad” touch anything in the house, in other words a fear of contamination), but then after working on this fear for a couple of years it is only a shadow of what it used to be, so I don’t know how much it helped.

    I’m hoping it might help people here. I worried they’re trying to take advantage of people’s desperation, but since they say it’s possible to do it on your own without paying anything, I’m comfortable posting this. I’m interested in knowing if it helps or not.

  3. Juan Juan

    1-Have you overcome your philophobia? Any website, doctor you might recommend. 2-This if for a friend …but I can’t even approach her anymore because she would go super angry. Any advise?

  4. Marc Moïni Marc Moïni

    Update a year later: philophobia is also known as Love Addiction, the Love Avoidant variant. And although focusing on body sensations helps, in most instances I suppose that other treatments will be needed too, for recovery.

    Each time I read one of these posts I get a sense of how lonely and how frustrating it must be to have this panic prevent you from getting the love and company you crave. There are reasons you react like this though, very likely it’s to protect yourself from being hurt again, after being very hurt one or more times while growing up. When your unconscious mind detects the same kind of danger, it seems to often be the case that you revert back to the age you were the first time, and you react in the same way you did then, which was probably the best you could manage to do at the time.

    In a way then, it could well be that your unconscious self is still trying to cope with what happened back then, and you’re stuck at that stage of emotional development, until you revisit that first situation and help your former self through that experience, acknowledging the feelings that were too intense to cope with at the age you were at the time, so you can finally move on from it and resume your natural growth process.

    I suggest you look at your family environment while growing up, what experiences of abandonment you had during childhood. These are not limited to people leaving you behind, it could also be a father who spent most of his time at work, or was alcoholic, or a mother who was depressed and although physically present did not give you the attention and affection you needed. It could also be that you were molested, or beaten (spanking is an instance of that), or verbally abused, etc. Children can’t be expected to have the emotional capacity (nor the intellectual one) to survive these attacks unscathed (by realizing that they are innocent and it’s the attacker who is doing something very wrong), they come to believe that it was their fault this was done to them. And they often feel terribly ashamed afterwards, as well as being terrified of getting attacked again, and they might not be aware of having these feelings.

    It may take some work to recall these experiences, because they were too upsetting to keep thinking about at the time. You’ll probably benefit from finding someone trustworthy whom you feel safe to talk about your childhood with, someone who will listen to what you say and hear what is important to you, without pushing you to talk and without telling you what you should do. A good therapist (difficult to find, in my experience), or someone who has recovered from the sort of wound you probably received.

    Some resources that I hope can help:

    Episodes of the Loveline radio show (on YouTube) from around 1999, where many callers mention having difficulty with intimacy, both emotional and physical. Again, the pattern with callers is that this disruption in their emotions is the result of some type of neglect or abuse during early childhood,

    Coherence Therapy maybe, if you can find a therapist you like who practices it: http://www.coherencetherapy.org/discover/examples.htm and https://youtu.be/GAhygPR1uDo

    I’m convinced it’s possible to heal from these childhood emotional wounds without medication, if you find an empathic and knowledgeable person to support you.

  5. jagdish jagdish

    Plzz koi muje btayega ki sir drd kese bnd kr sakte h
    Ye sir drd ek dam SE lete huye uthte tym hota h
    Plzzz reply me any psychologist any doc. Plzz tell me.

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