Monday, October 31, 2005


Pentheraphobia is fear of mother-in-law. The symptoms: breathlessness, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, shaking, heart palpitations, inability to speak or think clearly, a fear of dying, becoming mad or losing control, a sensation of detachment from reality or a full blown anxiety attack.

Most sufferers are surprised to learn that they are far from alone in this surprisingly common, although often unspoken, phobia. Pentheraphobia is an intense fear of something that poses no actual danger. While adults with Pentheraphobia realize that these fears are irrational, they often find that facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety.

Like all fears and phobias, pentheraphobia is created by the unconscious mind as a protective mechanism. At some point in your past, there was likely an event linking mother-in-law and emotional trauma. Whilst the original catalyst may have been a real-life scare of some kind, the condition can also be triggered by myriad, benign events like movies, TV, or perhaps seeing someone else experience trauma.

But so long as the negative association is powerful enough, the unconscious mind thinks: "Ahh, this whole thing is very dangerous. How do I keep myself from getting in this kind of situation again? I know, I'll attach terrible feelings to mother-in-law, that way I'll steer clear in future and so be safe." Just like that pentheraphobia is born. Attaching emotions to situations is one of the primary ways that humans learn.

Sometimes we just get the wiring wrong.The actual phobia manifests itself in different ways. Some sufferers experience it almost all the time, others just in response to direct stimuli. Everyone has their own unique formula for when and how to feel bad.


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