Cometophobia: symptoms, causes and treatment
Comet phobia can arise when seeing these astronomical objects or thinking about them.
Everyone knows the expression 'to each his own', which can be extrapolated to a world as complex and, at the same time, as limiting, as phobias are.
There are many phobias, but the surprising thing is that there are even specific groups of phobias, such as phobias to animals, phobias to environmental phenomena, phobias related to the body?
A rather unknown group of phobias are those that have to do with space phenomena. cometophobia, the fear of cometsthe specific phobia we are going to talk about here. Let's see this rare and, at the same time, curious phobic disorder.
What is kite phobia?
Cometophobia (from Latin 'comet', in turn from Greek 'kometes', 'hair, star with a ponytail' and Greek 'phobos' 'fear') is the fear of comets. It is a a specific phobia that shares a category with other phobias related to astronomical phenomena or objects, such as heliophobia (heliophobia).such as heliophobia (fear of the Sun), cosmicophobia (fear of cosmic phenomena), meterophobia (fear of meteorites), sidereophobia (fear of the stars) or spacephobia (fear of outer space).
Sufferers of this phobia feel an irrational fear of comets or phenomena related to them, and their occurrence is usually related to superstitions or erroneous beliefs about outer space. Although, objectively, comets are just a mixture of rocks, ice and stardust, there are those who still believe that they are messages from beyond or signs that the end is near. There are also those who believe that they are interplanetary spacecraft sent by aliens to invade Earth.
Whatever the cause behind this phobia, the truth is that cometophobes have serious problems witnessing the passage of a comet, talking about the last time one passed by or seeing them in science fiction movies and documentaries about outer space.
Possible causes of this psychological disorder
As with other phobias, it is accepted that the factors that cause cometophobia are a combination of external events, such as having experienced a traumatic event, and predispositions internal to the individual, such as genetics and personality.such as genetics and personality.
In the past, this fear was quite common, since there were no scientific explanations or objective methods to study comets, what they were composed of and how often they appeared. Because of this, in times such as the Middle Ages, it was believed that the passing of a comet was a sign that doomsday was approaching, or that the destruction of mankind was just around the corner. Such beliefs were closely associated with religion and related superstitions.
Nevertheless, there are still people today who fear comets. One of the reasons for this is that, either because they have seen comets in science fiction series or because they have documented their potential destructive capacity, comets are seen as something that could pose a threat to humanity. are seen as something that could spell the end of mankind, should they hit the Earth.. Another belief shared by cometophobes is that comets could be interplanetary spacecraft of highly advanced alien civilizations that are planning to invade our planet.
As with other phobias and, in turn, other anxiety disorders, ketophobia involves high levels of stress for the sufferer. Symptomatology may vary depending on the level of fear of the phobic stimulus and the degree of frequency of contact. Symptoms, and especially anxiety, will appear when the person visualizes images of kites, although the phobic response may also occur. the phobic response can also occur when talking about these cosmic phenomena or thinking about them..
Phobias are disorders that must be treated very seriously, since among the symptoms that can occur are panic attacks. When the person, whether cometophobic or suffering from another phobia, manifests one of these attacks, they may present physical problems such as palpitations and acceleration of the heartbeat.
Other physical symptoms that ketophobia patients may manifest, besides the panic attacks, are excessive sweating, trembling, shivering, chills, irregular breathing, choking sensation, tachycardia, chest pain, feeling of butterflies in the stomach, nausea, headache, dizziness, fainting, numbnessThe symptoms of panic attacks include excessive sweating, tremors, chills, irregular breathing, choking sensation, tachycardia, chest pain, feeling of butterflies in the stomach, nausea, headache, dizziness, fainting sensation, numbness, sensation of needles in the skin, dry mouth, tinnitus, disorientation, increased Blood pressure, confusion and hyperventilation.
As for psychological symptoms we have fear of losing control, fear of fainting, fear of dying, fear of having a disease, guilt, shame, isolation from others, depression, despair, trouble concentrating, feeling disconnected, anger, irritability, mood swings, anxiety and generalized fear.
Kite phobia is a very rare phobia, and because its phobic stimulus is kites, which in itself is rare, sufferers rarely choose to seek therapy. Actually, unless they work in something related to comets, such as astronomy, cometophobic people do not see the need to undergo treatment, since they already have the subjective feeling of being in control of their disorder. They believe that, as long as they do not see a comet, they will be able to live a normal life.
This is is striking when compared to other more common phobic disorders, associated with more everyday stimuli, such as blatophobiasuch as blatophobia (fear of cockroaches), acrophobia (fear of heights) or aerophobia (fear of flying). All these phobias are usually seen in consultation because sufferers suffer from many limitations by avoiding cockroaches, heights and airplanes, respectively. In contrast, since kites are rare, there is not a high degree of intrusiveness in kite phobia.
However, it never hurts to ask for help. Comets are rare and, because of this, they are truly beautiful natural phenomena that, when they occur, their observation is considered a truly recreational activity and unique experience. The individual with cometophobia not only risks missing out on a historic event, but also deprives himself of a good time with his friends and family, who may have decided to spend the evening watching the comet pass by.
In psychotherapy, the patient is encouraged to recognize the behavioral and thought patterns that led to the situation. that have led them to the situation they are in, what their beliefs are about what a comet is, and whether they really believe they are as dangerous as they think they are. In the consultation you can be taught strategies to cope with the anxiety associated with your specific form.
Within the pharmacological route, the most commonly prescribed psychotropic drugs for phobias are antidepressants, anxiolytics, and beta-blockers.. These medications do not cure phobias, but they do reduce their symptoms and provide the patient with a greater degree of well-being. However, in order for the person not to have an irrational fear of kites or to acquire effective strategies to cope with them, psychotherapy will be the best option to achieve this goal.
Apart from the classic psychopharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatments, there are other less empirically demonstrated options that could have good results on the cometophobic person, such as neurolinguistic programming or hypnotherapy, although, to date, few investigations have found that this type of alternative treatments are effective in treating anxiety disorders.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
- Bados, A.(2009). Specific phobias: Nature, assessment and treatment. Electronic publication.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)