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Emotophobia is the fear of unpleasant emotions, not to be confused with emetophobia, the fear of vomiting.

There is little online about emotophobia.

The few articles I found offered the suggestion to “stop treating negative emotions as if they are your enemies and can harm you.”

This is somewhat condescending and implies that emotions themselves cannot harm you.

The person offering this advice clearly has never been in a situation where showing negative emotions could harm them.

So, they think it is rather ridiculous that someone would associate their negative emotions with danger.

The problem with this thinking is that there are situations where someone’s emotions can cause them harm.

This advise shows a complete misunderstanding of emotophobia and its root causes.

People with emotophobia are not “treating” emotions as if they are the enemy.

For people that have emotophobia, emotions were the enemy and they were followed by consequences.

People that grew up in mentally abusive childhoods were not permitted to have emotions like other people are.

The expression of emotion, which represents being an individual, is often punished by abusive parents.

Even children who were not physically abused, could have had their right to individual ideas and feelings violated.

Narcissistic parents and other overbearing, maniplulative parents do not want their children to develop independent thoughts and ideas.

They do not want their children thinking in terms of their own needs at all. When their children expressed feelings, the abusive parents retaliated. If the child thinks independently and can express their feelings then it might threaten the narcissistic parent. 

The narcissistic parent wants to create a false narrative about the family. It is the vision of the family that is portrayed to the outside world. Everyone in the family has to back this story up. 

Children are not allowed to talk about abuse that occurs in the home. The narcissist re-frames the abuse to the mind of the child. The child is taught to believe the shared psychosis of the family, created by the narcissist. 

Punishments are inflicted on a child who goes against the narcissistic parent in any way. These can be emotional or physical in nature. 

Everyone in the house is trained to cater to the narcissist. Everyone knows that there are consequences for disobedience. The family members are made into a kind cult that follows the lead of the narcissist. 

These mentally abusive parents, want the focus on themselves. The needs and feelings of the others in the family do not matter.

They demand for the child to cater to their ever changing desires and demands. The narcissist will set rules and then change them when they feel like it. 

The children are expected to follow the rules, even when the parent has not informed them of changes. It is like playing a game with someone who changed the rules randomly and does not tell you. 

In order to survive in this type of environment, the child must learn to constantly read the parent’s body language and tone of voice.

They must anticipate the desires and moods of the parent. If they fail to do so, it is met with negative consequences.

If the child expresses disagreement, or unhappiness with a narcissistic parent, they will likely incur the anger and wrath of the parent.

The smallest indication of disagreement  with the parent can bring out their anger.

For their own protection, these children and teenagers learn to disguise their feelings and push them down.

They do not want the parent to see their feelings because it will be used against them.

If you grew up in this type of environment, then feeling negative emotions was the enemy. It is not something we have suddenly developed an irrational fear of as adults.

This environment causes C-PTSD, which is Complex Post Traumatic Stess Disorder, in many people. This is carried over into adulthood.

So, the advice to “stop treating emotions as if they were the enemy” and to tell people that feeling emotions is safe, does not make sense to someone with C-PTSD from childhood mental abuse.

Adults can also develop emotophobia from ongoing abusive relationships with a partner. Women become afraid to disagree with their partner because they fear the consequences of his anger.

Abusive people do not tolerate their partner exercising their personal rights, or expressing opinions that are different from them.

Again, the brain rewires the neural connections to avoid showing negative feelings. This is a necessary survival tactic at the time.

It is not easily undone. The brain considers it necessary in order to protect the safety of the person.

It takes years to develop this survival tactic and to learn how to detach from one’s own emotions.  The brain becomes wired to avoid entering into situations that may cause negative emotions.

To undo what was a learned survival skill takes a lot of work in re-wiring the brain.

Telling someone “emotions are your friends” does not work, especially without any idea why the person feels such anxiety about emotions like anger and sadness.

The only people who really understand what it feels like to have severe anxiety about showing anger, and sadness to others are those of us that are carrying the C-PTSD that causes it.

This is not a simple problem to just fix. You have to re-wire your programming. You have to learn that it is okay for someone else to be upset with us when we say “no.”

You need to learn how to identify what you want and what decisions will support you in a healthy way.  It is okay if other people do not agree with your choices. 

It takes practice to be able to stand your ground about things without fear of the consequences making you comply with others even when it is hurtful to you.


20 thoughts on “Emotophobia”

  1. You have an excellent capacity to express issues in a simple way. I really learned a lot from reading this post. I feel great compassion for people who have been brought up in the circumstances you describe, which clearly will have a huge impact on them as adults. Warm greetings, Sam 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I realized two days ago I’m emotophobic and I reflected and realized I had a lot of psychological abuse and manipulation going on in my adolescence. very interesting article, thank you


      1. Most people do not know that they have emotophobia because we have no frame of reference to know how other people feel. But once we begin to understand that other people do not have such extreme anxiety and resistance about other people being angry or upset at them ( or around them)….then we can begin to realize why other people more easily do what they want to do.

        People usually do what they want, say “No” when they don’t want to do something, and expect others to respect their boundaries.

        Learning to set boundaries and to prioritize your feelings, is difficult for people with emotophobia, because we were conditioned during childhood that negative consequences follow expressing yourself.

        As we learn about these things, and begin to realize that certain programs were put into our heads which cause core beliefs that are wrong….then we can begin on a journey of healing.

        For more info about healing from narcissistic programming, you can visit my gentlekindness facebook page.
        And the gentlekindnesscoaching.com site.
        I will be sending special articles and opportunities to access audios ( affirmations, hypnosis for reprogramming, NLP)…if you get on the mailing list at gentlekindnesscoaching.com


    1. I am glad the post was helpful to people. There is more to mental illness and anxiety disorders, social anxiety and avoidant personality disorder…even OCD and bipolar disorder..that people think. Everyone who I have ever chatted with that has OCD and bipolar disorder has some form of abuse from their childhood. Mostly everyone I know with social anxiety and depression has some emotional neglect or abuse in their past. Some people are not ready to call abuse Abuse. This is a place on the path that takes a little time to cross.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. “People that grew up in mentally abusive childhoods were not permitted to have emotions like other people are.”

    You really hit the nail on the head for me with those words …

    Hi Annie, this is a clear and succinct article! I found myself nodding and deeply resonating throughout. I agree with Sam you have a remarkable ability to write about a complex subject in a simple and easy way. You have put into words what is often difficult to understand and I thank you for that. Superb!

    Warm winter wishes, Deborah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I am so glad that this post is resonating with people. If we can identify and give names to things that we experience then it can take us on a path to healing.
      Wishing you peace and happiness,
      Annie ❤


    2. I am so glad this was validating for you. For more information about healing and to connect with others..follow my gentlekindness facebook page.
      For more articles, affirmations and access to audios for reprogramming the brainwashing…join the gentlekindnesscoaching,com emailing list.
      Much love,
      Annie -gentlekindnesscoaching.com -life coaching for overcoming narcissistic abuse


  3. You must of been a fly on the wall, because you have described my entire childhood.
    Sadly, as an adult this relationship didn’t change with a narcissists mother.

    I’m just beginning to understand how all this has & continues to effect everything about my life.

    Thank you so much for your post & insights.


    1. For more information about healing, and access to audios, hypnosis for reprogramming, affirmations and other helpful healing tools…follow my gentlekindness facebook page…and get on the emailing list at gentlekindnesscoaching.com

      Liked by 1 person

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