Anatidaephobia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments


The Anatidaephobia is the irrational fear that at any given moment and from somewhere, a duck is watching you.

Although it can be highly extravagant, this fear response configures an anxiety disorder, equivalent to other types of more common phobias, and requires specific treatment.


In this article we will @nalyze this psychopathology, we will comment on its main characteristics, we will study the possible causes and the elements that can make its appearance, and we will postulate the treatments that can be performed.



Characteristics of anatidaefobia

First of all I would like to delimit specifically what is the fear that at some point you are looking at a duck.

Most likely, if a friend of yours told you he has this kind of fear, you would think he is crazy or that he is teasing you.

However, this may not be the case, since anatidaephobia constitutes a scientifically studied mental disorder.

It should be noted that this alteration does not refer to any psychotic disorder or other manifestations of madness.

The anatidaefobia is a type of specific phobia very particular, where the feared element is something more extravagant than in other types.

In this way, this psychological alteration does not differ in excess from other well-known and popularly accepted phobias such as blood phobia, airplanes, heights or closed spaces.

In fact, the only thing that differentiates the anatidaefobia from the rest of specific phobias is the feared element.

Thus, in each type of specific phobia we find a stimulus that causes a very high anxiety reaction.

In hematofobia, exposure to blood or related elements causes the person to panic.

In claustrophobia, the fact of being locked in a small space with no exits produces a clear response of anxiety.

And in anatidaefobia, the possibility that a duck is watching you produces high sensations of fear and fear.

What happens to a person with anatidaephobia?

The main alteration that a person with anatidaefobia suffers consists in presenting an extreme fear and a totally irrational fear that a duck is looking at him.

A priori, it seems simple to detect this type of phobia, since the very feared element shows that the fear experienced is irrational.

In this way, it can be doubted if a person presents a normal fear or a pathological fear in front of spiders, forcing a more exhaustive study on the presence of arachnophobia (phobia of spiders).

On the other hand, the concept of fearing that a duck is looking at you, can show by itself that the fear experienced is not adaptive.

However, in order to diagnose this anxiety disorder, the person is required to present a specific response when exposed to the feared element.

Thus, when a person with anatidaefobia generates the thought that a duck may be watching from anywhere, it will present the following symptoms.

1- Physiological plan

Before the appearance of the feared stimulus, the person with anatidaefobia sets in motion a set of physiological responses characteristic of an increase in the activity of the central nervous system.

Thus, they usually increase their heart and respiratory rate, present sweating, muscle tension and other symptoms such as dry mouth or pains in different regions of the body.

These manifestations can vary a lot in each individual since there are important individual differences in the pattern of autonomic reactions.

However, anyone who presents anatidaefobia will have an increase in physical activity when exposed to the feared stimulus.

2- Cognitive plane

In the thinking of the person with anatidaefobia, a series of beliefs and actions about the feared stimulus are developed.

In this way, the person can think that the duck can be anywhere, that he will be watching him or that he can attack him at any time.

These thoughts can be translated into images or self-verbalizations about the negative consequences that are expected about the feared stimulus and generate high feelings of anxiety.

3- Motor plane

At the motor level, the main response that characterizes phobias is avoidance, that is, abandoning the situation or the feared stimulus as quickly as possible.

In the case of anatidaefobia, the situations in which fear and anxiety can appear are quite unpredictable.

However, it is usual for the person with this alteration to want to leave the space in which he finds himself before experiencing the fear that a duck is watching him.

In some cases, on the other hand, the individual may be able not to flee or avoid the situation, and endure the sensations of fear with much discomfort.

How is the fear experienced in the anatidaefobia?

The type of fear and the fear responses that a person with anatidaefobia suffers from are the same as those presented in the other types of specific phobia.

In fact, anatidaefobia is considered a psychopathology equivalent to other phobias such as the phobia of heights or blood, where the only thing that differs from one another is the feared element.

So, to classify the fear that a duck is looking at you as belonging to this anxiety disorder, the following conditions must be presented.

  1. The fear experienced is disproportionate to the demands of the situation. Here it is considered that the reaction does not correspond to the existence of a situation particularly dangerous or threatening to the individual, so that the person is not exposed to the real possibility of being attacked by a duck.
  2. The thoughts of fear and fear can not be explained and reasoned by the individual. The person with anatidaefobia fears in extreme way the possibility of being observed by a duck but can not reason why he has this kind of fear.
  3. The person can not control the sensations and the thoughts of fear, which appear in a completely automatic way.
  4. The individual with anatidaefobia is fully aware that his fear is irrational. This characteristic makes it possible to differentiate this alteration from a possible psychotic disorder or delusional thoughts.
  5. The fear of the possibility that a duck is watching him persists over time and does not appear only once or sporadically.
  6. Fear is totally maladaptive.

Is it an animal phobia?

Apart from the anatidaefobia, there are many other phobias to animals such as spider phobia, snake phobia, phobia of birds, dogs or cats.

In fact, specific phobias can be broadly classified into 4 main types: phobia of animals, environmental phobias (thunder, rain, storms, etc.), blood phobia-injections-damage, and situational phobias (cars, planes , closed spaces, etc.).

Of these four types, anatidaefobia is best adapted to animal phobia, since the feared element is a duck.

However, anatidaefobia requires a series of special considerations.

First, animal phobias are characterized by presenting the response of fear and anxiety when the person is exposed to the feared animal.

Thus, a person with a spider phobia will present his phobic response when he is exposed, is nearby, sees or notices the presence of a spider.

As long as the person does not see any spider, the anxiety, fear and phobic response will not appear.

In contrast, anatidaefobia does not require the presence of a duck for the person to begin to manifest feelings of anxiety, fear and fear, and carry out the phobic response.

In fact, in this alteration of anxiety, the element feared is not the presence of a duck in itself, but the possibility that a duck is present and is observing the individual.

Thus, people with anatidaefobia do not usually perform the anxiety response when exposed to a duck but when they are exposed to their internal thinking that there may be a duck looking at it.

Start and course

The anatidaefobia is an anxiety disorder that usually appears in childhood or adolescence although in some cases it can also debut at adult ages.

During their course, these types of fears can disappear or diminish, whereas if they last during the adult stage they can become chronic.

However, like the great majority of phobias, this disorder tends to respond well to psychological treatments, it can be relatively effective and, in many cases, the anatidaefobia can be completely resolved.

What are its causes?

The anatidaefobia can develop due to different factors and the interaction of different causes.

In fact, it is considered that there is no single element that explains the appearance of this disorder and a multifactorial pathogenesis is postulated.

However, unlike other types of phobias, anatidaefobia is characterized by starting in childhood.

In this way, it is postulated that early experiences can play a fundamental role in the development of this psychological alteration.

Having experienced aversive situations with ducks, such as being attacked or experiencing a moment of danger with these animals when they are small can lead to a direct conditioning in which the child matches the animal with feelings of fear.

This association could lead to the emergence of fearful thoughts and the development of phobia.

However, not all cases of anatidaefobia respond to these characteristics and a person can develop this psychopathology without having experienced any traumatic experience with ducks.

In this sense, other factors appear that may be relevant.

One of them is the vicar conditioning, in which the visualization (either in reality or in fiction through television content) of a situation related to ducks can lead to the development of the phobia.

Likewise, the acquisition of verbal information about these animals can also condition the fear response.

Finally, there are theories that postulate the importance of genetic factors, so that there could be people with a greater predisposition to develop phobic responses, including anatidaefobia.

Why is the treatment important?

If the phobia does not disappear with the passage of time, it is important to carry out treatments to overcome this peculiar fear.

In fact, people with this anxiety disorder can see their life significantly affected due to the characteristics of the feared stimulus.

The phobic response and the sensations of anxiety produce a high discomfort on the person.

In addition, as the stimulus that triggers the anxiety reaction in this type of phobia does not respond to a specific situation or element, but to the generation of the thought that a duck may be watching, the discomfort may become very unpredictable.

The person with anatidaefobia may experience fear in any situation and this may affect their work, academic, social or family.

Thus, eradicating with the problem is often of vital importance for the quality of life of the person suffering from this condition.

How can it be treated?

The treatment of first choice for this disorder is psychotherapy.

In fact, psychological treatments have been very effective in eradicating phobic alterations and result in more efficient therapeutic modalities than psychotropic drugs.

Of all the psychological interventions, those that have shown greater efficacy are cognitive behavioral treatments.

This type of specific psychotherapy for phobias is based on two main techniques.

On the one hand, exposure treatments are carried out in which the patient is exposed to his feared element with the aim of getting used to them and slowly extinguishing the fear that he experiences.

On the other hand, relaxation techniques are applied to reduce the state of anxiety and get the person to experience feelings of calm and tranquility when exposed to the feared element.

Also Read: Microphobia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Finally, cognitive treatments can also be performed to modify distorted beliefs and eliminate the irrationality of phobic thoughts.