Coimetrophobia (fear of cemeteries): causes, symptoms and treatment
These places represent an irrational and extreme fear in some people.
Death is part of life and, therefore, it is inevitable.. Although it may be difficult for us to accept, we will all die someday.
Some people suffer serious problems to assume this fact, besides feeling real dread at the thought of anything related to death and the unknown, especially where we are going to end up: cemeteries.
Coimetrophobia is the phobia of these places and everything related to them.. In this article we are going to deal more in depth with this specific phobia, in addition to detailing its symptoms, some causes, intrusion in the life of the affected person and treatments.
- Recommended article: "Fear of dying: 3 strategies to manage it".
What is coimetrophobia?
Coimetrophobia is the irrational fear of cemeteries and related aspects such as corpses, tombstones, thanatopraxy, zombies, among others.zombies, among others. Although it might seem that this specific phobia should be common, the truth is that feeling a high degree of fear towards cemeteries is not as common as one might expect.
Cemeteries, in and of themselves, are places that generate certain discomfort and, in most cultures, the afterlife is seen as disturbing. However, coimetrophobic people not only manifest a fear of cemeteries, but actually manifest very exaggerated emotional and physiological responses to such places.
This phobia can be very detrimental to the sufferer's life, since the mere thought of a burial, seeing the obituaries or having to pass near a cemetery are situations that generate a lot of anxiety. In addition, physical problems such as a sudden increase in Heart rate and hyperventilation may occur, along with panic attacks.
It is common for people with coimetrophobia to also manifest other phobias related to death and the unknown, such as aclufobia (fear of the dark) and fastidiousness.such as aclufobia (fear of the dark) and phasmophobia (fear of ghosts).
As in most phobias, the main symptom of coimetrophobia is anxiety.. Depending on the degree of severity, the sufferer of this type of phobia may change daily habits, such as going to the supermarket or meeting friends, in order to avoid at all costs having to pass in front of a cemetery. These examples are cases of avoidance behaviors.
Anxiety can occur at the mere thought of a cemetery or being near it, accompanied by muscle stiffness, dizziness, tremors, tachycardia, hyperventilation, nausea, dry mouth and sweating, in addition to reaching the point of suffering a panic attack. It is also possible to become mute and have disorganized speech.
Affect on daily life
Although going to the cemetery is not a daily task, nor is it the main place of leisure in the agenda of most people, the truth is that not being able to go to the cemetery is not a daily task, nor is it the main place of leisure in the agenda of most people, the truth is that not being able to go near one can be very problematic..
Although with the expansion of the cities the cemeteries have been moved to the outskirts, there are still some that are located in the center. It is common for coimetrophobic people to avoid passing through the same street where there is a cemetery, a tombstone store or a cremation site.
This can be detrimental to the well-being of the person with coimetrophobia, since, to give an example, if their friends decide to meet near the area where there is a cemetery, the person will simply not want to meet, something that can harm their sociability in the long run.
One of the situations in which this phobia can manifest itself most clearly is at a funeral.. This type of event is very important socially, since it is a sign of affection and respect for the deceased. Not attending this type of celebrations is not socially well seen, in addition to the fact that the coimetrophobic person who has been absent may feel bad for not having gone to say the last goodbye to a loved one.
Possible causes of this phobia
There is no clear cause for the development of this phobia.. Genetics and environment, as in most phobias, may be factors in the development of coimetrophobia.
Because death is treated as a taboo and negative subject in Western cultures, cemeteries are perceived as extremely negative places, and this is an important cultural cause in the development of the phobia.
Fear of the unknown, myths about cemeteries and associated urban legends may contribute to the development of coimetrophobia. This phobia also appears to be closely related to the fear of being buried alive.
Traumatic events may also be a conditioning factor in the development of the phobia. For example, having seen a horror movie as a child or having suffered an unpleasant experience when attending a funeral.
As it is an uncommon and very specific phobia, there are no specialized manuals for its treatment.However, it is possible to resort to the general treatment for anxiety disorders.
Among the most common treatments for phobias is exposure. The objective of this type of therapy is to get the person to become desensitized to that which causes fear, in this case cemeteries.
A good way to work this is to gradually get the person to approach a cemetery, to be able to watch movies where there are scenes that occur in such a place or to talk about death. Through cognitive-behavioral therapy, techniques can be taught and skills can be perfected to work on cemetery anxiety.
If necessary, the most useful pharmacology to work on phobias are anxiolytics and antidepressants. These drugs help to reduce the person's anxiety, in addition to preventing panic attacks. It is also a good idea to reduce the consumption of caffeinated substances, such as coffee and tea, given their physiological activation effects.
Mindfulness, guided meditation, yoga and exercise have been shown to be useful to work on phobias, such as fear of cemeteries. Mindfulness allows to work mindfulness, and teach the person that indeed we are all going to die someday, that it is something normal and that we should not be afraid of it. Meditation and yoga allow the body to relax when there is a stressful situation associated with thinking about cemeteries.
Exercise, especially that which activates the circulatory system, such as anaerobic exercise, helps to de-stress, in addition to secreting endorphins in the brain that induce a sense of well-being and calm.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.
- LeBeau RT, Glenn D, Liao B, Wittchen HU, Beesdo-Baum K, Ollendick T, Craske MG (2010). "Specific phobia: a review of DSM-IV specific phobia and preliminary recommendations for DSM-V". Depress Anxiety.
- Rachman, S.J. (1978). Fear and Courage. San Francisco: WH Freeman & Co.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)