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What is the fear of your own mind called?

The fear of one’s own mind, thoughts or mental processes is known as automysophobia or autophobia. This intense fear can manifest in a variety of ways, from a vague sense of unease to full-blown panic attacks when confronted with the reality of one’s own consciousness. While not extremely common, automysophobia can be an extremely debilitating condition that prevents sufferers from living life to the fullest. In this article, we will explore the symptoms, causes and treatments for automysophobia, as well as provide tips for coping with and overcoming this fear. Gaining an understanding of the root of automysophobia is the first step in managing it effectively.

Symptoms of Automysophobia

Individuals with automysophobia experience an irrational fear response when confronted with thoughts or reminders of their own mental processes and inner world. Common symptoms of this phobia include:

– Extreme anxiety when thinking deeply or focusing inwards
– Avoidance of introspection or thinking about one’s thoughts/feelings
– Distress when discussing or contemplating the nature of consciousness, the self or the mind
– Panic attacks when reminded of having an inner world or thoughts
– Hypervigilance about one’s own thought processes
– Difficulty concentrating due to efforts to avoid “thinking about thinking”

Sufferers may go to great lengths to avoid triggers that force them to confront the reality of their own minds. This avoidance can severely limit their ability to examine their feelings, pursue self-understanding or engage in certain spiritual practices. In severe cases, the individual may become completely disconnected from their inner world and sense of identity.

Causes of Automysophobia

As with most phobias, automysophobia is believed to have a psychological component, with traumatic experiences often playing a role. Potential causes include:

– **Past trauma:** Experiencing a panic attack while focusing inwards or while in an altered state of consciousness can lead to developing a phobia of one’s own mind.

– **Depersonalization/derealization:** Episodes where things feel dreamlike or someone feels detached from themselves can create lasting fear of conscious awareness.

– **OCD or anxiety:** Sufferers of OCD/anxiety may fear losing control of their thoughts. This can manifest as automysophobia.

– **Feeling a loss of identity:** Trauma, depression or severe stress can lead to feelings of detachment from oneself or loss of identity. Automysophobia may develop as a way to avoid confronting this loss.

– **Fear of mental illness:** Individuals who worry excessively about “going crazy” may become phobic of their own minds.

– **Fear of death:** Contemplating one’s own consciousness can lead to existential questions about mortality. This may terrify some people.

In many cases, a combination of genetic predispositions, thought patterns and stressful life experiences contributes to the emergence of automysophobia. Sufferers are not “crazy,” but have developed an excessive fear response. With compassion, patience and treatment, the condition can be overcome.

Treatments for Automysophobia

Automysophobia is highly treatable, especially when caught early. Some of the most effective treatments include:

– **Exposure therapy:** Facing feared situations in a gradual, controlled way can desensitize individuals to triggers and teach them that their fear is exaggerated. For automysophobia, this may include mindfulness exercises.

– **Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT):** CBT aims to change negative thought patterns that fuel fear. A therapist can help identify and dispute irrational beliefs about dangers of introspection.

– **Medication:** Anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications may be used alongside therapy to provide temporary relief from symptoms. However, medication alone is unlikely to fully resolve the phobia.

– **Hypnotherapy:** Hypnosis techniques can help subsconsciously reframe associations with personal consciousness to reduce fear and avoidance.

– **Alternative therapies:** Options like meditation, yoga and acupuncture may complement other treatments by relieving anxiety.

– **Support groups:** Sharing experiences and coping strategies with fellow automysophobia sufferers can help decrease isolation and boost motivation.

For best results, a multi-dimensional treatment plan should be tailored to the individual’s symptoms and needs. With professional support and consistency, even severe cases of automysophobia can be successfully managed.

Tips for Overcoming the Fear of Your Own Mind

Living with automysophobia is challenging, but several self-care strategies can help sufferers cope better while undergoing treatment:

– Avoid bombarding yourself with introspection before you are ready. Take small steps at first when facing feared thoughts.

– Focus on the present moment using grounding techniques when anxieties about your mind arise.

– Write down your anxious thoughts to get them out of your head and see them more objectively.

– Distract yourself with activities, social interaction or entertainment when you feel trapped in your own head.

– Remind yourself that your thoughts do not have power over you and you can walk away from them at any time.

– Look into mindfulness, meditation and spiritual practices that may help you feel more at ease with your inner world.

– Seek support from trusted loved ones who understand your phobia and make you feel grounded.

– Find healthy coping mechanisms like exercise, journalling or talk therapy to manage your mental health.

– Give yourself patience and compassion – overcoming automysophobia takes time and courage. Celebrate small wins.

While the fear of your own mind may feel overwhelming at times, increasing understanding of yourself and your mental patterns can gradually lessen phobic responses. With consistent effort using clinically proven techniques, automysophobia can be overcome. The journey to inner peace is possible one step at a time.

Examples of Automysophobia in Pop Culture and Literature

The extreme anxiety caused by focusing inward has been depicted in books, films and other media over the years. Some notable examples include:

– The protagonist in Edgar Allan Poe’s famous short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” becomes obsessed over the sound of a beating heart, representing his own guilty conscience and tortured psyche.

– In the novel Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, the insomniac narrator seeks to escape his recursive thoughts by creating an underground club focused on bare knuckles fighting.

– The 1998 film Pi depicts a mathematician slowly going insane as he obsessively attempts to understand the hidden numerical patterns underlying all of existence – evoking the terror of one’s own fixations.

– autoincrementophobia, the fear of introspection, is explored in The Creation of Fearlessness by Lama Yeshe when he writes “by understanding fear, we can eliminate it.”

– The Twilight Zone episode “The Mind and the Matter” tells the story of a misanthropic man who discovers he can manipulate reality using only his thoughts, ultimately losing control over his own mind.

These and other works of fiction vividly depict the experience of dread fascination and avoidance in relation to exploring one’s inner world and psyche. While often exaggerated for dramatic effect, they shed light on the extreme discomfort automysophobia can cause in real life.

Famous People with Automysophobia

Though not frequently discussed, a number of public figures over the years have struggled with automysophobia or related conditions:

– **Edgar Allan Poe:** The famous gothic writer was said to have a morbid fear of his own thoughts and inner mind, likely exacerbated by alcoholism and mental health issues.

– **Nikola Tesla:** The renowned inventor famously struggled with obsessive thoughts and fixations, and had a terror of dirt and germs. He may have had some degree of automysophobia.

– **Emily Dickinson:** The reclusive poet spent most of her life in her bedroom, avoiding interaction with others as well as introspection. Scholars speculate she may have had anxiety or agoraphobia.

– **Michelangelo:** The artistic genius was prone to depression and obsessive tendencies. At times he was said to greatly fear his own recurrent thoughts and imagination.

– **Howar Hughes:** The billionaire tycoon struggled with OCD and germophobia so severe it dominated his life. This may have overlapped with a more generalized anxiety about his own mind.

Understanding that even geniuses and celebrities have struggled with fear of their inner worlds can help make the disorder less isolating for everyday sufferers. With treatment and support, anyone can learn to manage their phobias and access the full potential of their minds.

Quick Facts About Automysophobia

Here are a few key facts about automysophobia to summarize what has been covered so far:

Alternate names Autophobia, introspection phobia
Feared situation Thinking about or focusing on one’s own mind, thoughts or mental processes
Common symptoms Anxiety when introspecting, avoiding contemplation, panic attacks, feeling disconnected from oneself
Treatments Exposure therapy, CBT, medication, hypnotherapy, mindfulness practices
Famous sufferers Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Michelangelo

Keeping these key facts about automysophobia in mind can help in discussing it with professionals or educating loved ones on what it entails. There are many resources and supports available for assessing symptoms, building coping skills and overcoming even long-term phobic responses.


Automysophobia, while not the most common phobia, can severely impact quality of life if left unaddressed. The irrational fear of thinking about one’s own consciousness leads sufferers to go to extremes to avoid triggers and introspection. However, the condition appears highly treatable through techniques like exposure therapy, CBT and medication. By facing fears gradually and reframing negative thought patterns, individuals can reclaim a sense of self and live life more fully. While it takes courage to confront one’s own mind, doing so can open up new worlds of personal understanding and achievement. With compassion, patience and support, those living with automysophobia can move closer to reintegrating all aspects of their identity.