The xylophobia (also called hilofobia) is the irrational fear of wood, their derivatives or materials that imitate. This fear can therefore occur in front of wooden objects, forests or any place that contains wood. Fear of objects that simulate wood can also occur. The word xilofobia comes from the Greek, xýlon that means wood and fobos that means fear.
Like any specific phobia, this fear or irrational fear begins to be harmful to the person who suffers when it limits their daily life. For example, people who suffer from this phobia can not go to any place that has wood (homes, offices, restaurants, museums, etc.), nor walk or walk on wooden floors or derivatives, avoiding them continuously.
All this considerably limits the life of the person who suffers because it has to decide continuously to what places it may or may not go depending on the possibility of encountering a wooden object or utensil.
At this point it is advisable to go to a professional to help you overcome this fear and develop your life normally.
Symptoms of xylophobia
Symptoms can appear in the presence of wooden objects or when the person imagines them or imagines himself in the feared place.
The symptoms vary depending on the person and the moment, not all individuals have the same symptoms or suffer with the same severity. Among the most frequent manifestations of phobia usually appear:
- Fear or panic . It is the feeling of discomfort and anguish before the occurrence or the possibility that a feared situation occurs. There is the fear that is normal and adaptive that all people experience when faced with certain stimuli. Thanks to these fears, we learn to deal appropriately with difficult, dangerous or threatening situations. But at other times fear blocks us, we lose control of the situation and the emotion of anguish is maintained even though the person knows that it is not necessary, that the fear is irrational. At this point the fear becomes panic and becomes a negative and harmful emotion because it alters the ability of the person to face the everyday situations of day to day.
- Anxiety . It is a response that is activated in the person in dangerous or threatening situations and will help them to face them. The problem appears when the anxiety response is not proportional to the threat that is suffered. In this case, being in a forest or before a wooden object should not trigger the anxiety response because it is not necessary to flee from the situation as it is not rationally dangerous.
- Physiological reactions . They include all the sensations that the person notices internally when he is in front of objects or wooden utensils or when he imagines before them. These reactions vary depending on the person and the moment but the most common are:
- Palpitations or tachycardia.
- Pain and / or pressure in the chest.
- Difficulty breathing, choking sensation.
- Excessive sweating, cold sweats.
- Dryness in the mouth and throat.
- Intestinal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
- Sensation of dizziness, vertigo.
- Sensation of loss of control over the body.
Often there is not a single reason why a person develops the phobia, but it is usually the combination of several factors.
Then we will name the most common, but it is necessary to take into account that only one of these factors will not have been the exclusive cause of its appearance.
In the development of specific phobias, almost always a traumatic event appears that left a mark on the person due to its seriousness or that, without being especially serious, was not resolved correctly at the time.
They are usually experiences that happened during childhood and adolescence, and although at first the person may not remember them or not give them importance, it is usually from this moment when fear develops.
In this case it can be events like getting lost in a forest, having a bad experience in a place very populated with trees or suffering an aggression or injury with a wooden utensil.
After having suffered this experience, our brain associates the objects that are of the same material with that traumatic experience producing the same discomfort as at the time of that first event. For example, a person who was lost in the forest for hours, when returning to a similar place, may experience the same anguish and fear as at that moment.
These experiences can also cause the development of the phobia indirectly, that is, if the person sees or informs him of how another person has suffered an unpleasant event related to the object of fear.
Many times, phobias develop because the child learns to fear those objects or situations that their parents or reference persons fear.
It is likely that if a child sees how his mother avoids going to a forest or places where it is surrounded by trees and also verbalizes the fear that has these places, he develops that same response of fear.
When the phobia prevents the person to have a normalized life due to the anguish that it produces and because of having to continuously avoid certain places and objects, it is advisable to ask for help from a professional to face it.
Different treatments have proven to be effective in treating phobias, which is the most appropriate depending on the needs of the person and the type of phobia suffered. Some of the most common treatments are:
This type of treatment is one of the most effective treatments for specific phobias, such as xylophobia.
In this type of therapy different techniques are used to help the patient understand why the phobia is occurring and how to cope. Among the techniques that are used, the most important are:
- Psychoeducation It is the process by which the therapist informs the patient of the causes and origins of their phobia. This allows the patient to understand their problem and why it is being maintained at present.
- Exposition. This technique consists of presenting the patient with the stimuli that he fears, in this case going to a place populated by trees or in which there are wooden objects and derivatives. Exposure to these stimuli is done in a manner contracted by the therapist and with prior preparation for the situation. Exposure is prolonged until the fear of these situations disappears or diminishes considerably.
- Relaxation techniques. Continued muscle tension is a common symptom in fear states. This tension can be adaptive and help us to flee from a danger, but in the cases in which the phobia has developed this tension is not necessary, because the object of which we want to flee is not threatening. The relaxation response is contrary to the tension response. When the patient learns to relax he can put it into practice at any time that tension generates discomfort.
- Systematic desensitization . This technique involves exposing the patient to the feared stimuli gradually in combination with relaxation techniques. The patient, together with the therapist, elaborates a list of the most feared objects of minor importance. For example, the handle of a wooden fork, a wooden shovel, a chair, a large piece of furniture, a room with the floor and wooden furniture, etc. until reaching the stimulus that produces the most fear, for example, being in a forest. Once the list has been prepared, the patient begins to face the first stimulus, in a real or imagined way. Until that stimulus does not stop causing the symptoms of fear is not passed to the next of the list.
- Cognitive intervention . The cognitive-behavioral assumes that negative emotions such as fear or anxiety arise from how the individual interprets situations. In this interpretation, the danger of the situation is often overestimated. The objective of cognitive intervention is to get the patient to question these erroneous interpretations of the situation.
- Breathing techniques . It is a self-control strategy that is used to regulate breathing because it is altered in situations of panic and anxiety. Hyperventilation often occurs, which consists of increasing oxygen in the blood, above the levels that the body needs. This hyperventilation appears before the intensity and frequency of breathing. The purpose of breathing techniques is to decrease the symptoms of hyperventilation and to develop self-control over the situation.
Neurolinguistic Programming Techniques (NLP)
This set of techniques aims to understand the internal processes of the person to reprogram the way to communicate in order to change certain beliefs to achieve personal success.
In this case, it is about eliminating the feeling of anguish and discomfort generated by the presence of wooden objects, learning a more adequate way to face this fear.
The objective of this type of treatment is to reach the subconscious of the person through regression and find the first moment in which fear is generated. The situation and the reason they developed the trauma are identified.
Once the person is at that moment is introduced into the scene some element that can help cope better or more adequately. It is about associating negative manifestations with other more positive ones with the aim of reducing this irrational fear or even disappearing.
At the end of the process the individual has control over the situation because he has managed to break the negative association they had with the object or situation since it first occurred. Sometimes this regression requires going back to childhood moments, which occurred many years ago or even the patient did not remember.
Use of drugs
The different investigations and studies that have been carried out on the use of drugs for the treatment of phobias do not yield decisive results on their efficacy.
In any case, what does seem to be clear is that the exclusive use of medication is not effective for the disappearance of the phobia.
However, drugs such as benzodiazepines or beta-blockers have been used as a complement to the techniques explained above. But the studies carried out in this regard seem to indicate that the use of drugs could hinder the therapeutic work of exposure, so its use in treatment is not usual.
Regardless of the treatment you want to choose to fight the phobia, there are a series of daily indications that contribute to the general well-being of the person.
Performing these indications correctly will not eliminate the phobia but it will help to not aggravate the symptoms of anguish and discomfort. Some of the most appropriate behaviors are:
- Perform physical exercise frequently and according to our possibilities.
- Healthy and varied diet. Drink plenty of water to maintain hydration and eliminate toxins.
- Sleep well.
- Decrease or avoid the use of alcohol and / or tobacco.
- Reduce the consumption of caffeine and / or theine.