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 parents retaliated.
Punishments from the silent treatment to aggressive verbal abuse of the child are used.
Physical consequences may also follow as a matter of course, when a child showed anything resembling disobedience, including not feeling what they were told to feel.
These mentally abusive parents, want the focus on themselves and their needs. They demand for the child to cater to their ever changing desires and demands.
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 the parent, they will likely invoke the anger and wrath of the parent.
Even a facial expression 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 his anger.
Abusive people do not tolerate independence from their partner. When the partner asserts the fact that they are an individual person, it is met with extreme resistance or anger from the narcissist.
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 detach from and avoid negative emotions. The brain becomes wired to discourage 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 problem with emotophobia is that having it makes you easier for people to manipulate. People that want their way all the time, can use emotional manipulation to make you want to comply, rather than experiencing the pain of the emotophobia symptoms.
Realizing that you allow people to have their way, in order to avoid upsetting them is the first step to healing. Then you can understand that people get upset sometimes and unless you are in danger from them in some way, you can endure the feelings you will go through when they react to you.
You can begin to recognize when someone is trying to emotionally manipulate you. They will not take no for an answer. They use shame and guilt to get you to do things. Another sign is that their reactions to things will be far out of proportion to the “slight” they should be perceiving.
You have just as much of a right to your boundaries as anyone else does. People should not get their way just because they play on your fear of upsetting them.