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.
For people into NLP triggers are called NLP anchors. The difference is that NLP anchors can be good or bad. They might be pre- existing from a past trauma or created to ease the effects of trauma.
They can be put into your mind intentionally to bring about a certain mood or mental state. This is a functional or a therapeutical use for them.
Back in the days of Pavlov, triggers were discovered as a tool for behavioral modification. You know…Pavlov’s dog.
Every time Pavlov fed the dog, he rang a bell first. After a while the dog salivated at the sound of the bell even without the food being presented.
This is how our minds create associations between certain triggers and a corresponding emotional response.
I have ring tones that I hate the sound of. There are songs I cannot listen to.
Certain animals are disturbing to me. Certain situations make me have an anxiety attack.
Some triggers are related to incidents and some are related to specific poem. Some triggers are related to time periods or ongoing abuse. Others are related to break ups from our ex.
There are some triggers that we are well aware of where they come. Other ones may be related to trauma from our past from when we were very young or even infants.
There may be triggers that create emotional flashbacks for you that are from periods of time that you have blacked out from your mind…or I should say that your brain blocked them out in order to protect you.
Triggers can come out of nowhere unexpectedly. We can try to avoid certain known triggers such as my not using certain alarms and ring tones on my phone.
Although every so often I am out somewhere and a stranger’s phone rings with the very ring tone that is now taboo on my cell phone.
There are times when we suddenly feel severe anxiety and have no idea what caused the onset. This can sometimes be an emotional flashback to a trigger we are unaware of.
That is a very tricky one to figure out. You would have to write down all the sights, smells and circumstances that were around at the time of the anxiety attack.
You would have to keep a log of those things each time you had an unexpected, unexplainable anxiety attack. Then look for anything in common between them that was never part of your environment when you are calm.
To make it even more complex, triggers can have more than one component to them. It might not be candlelight or the smell of roses individually that triggers you. It could be the combination of the two of them that does it.
Certain emotional triggers can be healed or at least the effect can be lessened through NLP techniques. Other ones may be harder to deal with than others.
The ones that we cannot identify or do not know what they were caused by are the worst ones in a way. At least as far as there being any hope for treatment.
The more severe the trauma, the more severe the pain from being triggered.
I know many other people deal with this on a day to day basis. For some people certain dates or times of the year are triggers for emotional pain, depression and anxiety.
If you have triggers like I have described here then you have some form of PTSD. It could be straight PTSD or Complex PTSD. People often have both.
Talking about your triggers or unexplained emotional brain attacks is the first step to healing or at least lessoning the feeling of alienation or isolation due to PTSD or Complex PTSD.
Know you are not alone. There are others of us that understand.
Invisible suffering..Invisible illness…Invisible pain…Chronic illness….Mental suffering…Domestic abuse…Mental abuse..Narcissistic Victim Abuse Syndrome…PTSD…Chronic Pain…
These are things that concern me because the people who are enduring these things are not getting enough support. The lack of people supporting you…or even believing you …causes retraumatization.
There is the initial trauma of the illness, pain, or abuse and then there is a whole new kind of painful suffering caused by what happens next.
People do not see your suffering and so..
…they do not believe you at all..
…they do not believe that it is that bad..
…they think you can just “shake it off”…
…they do not believe that you cannot do the things that they can easily do.
…they think you are lazy…
…they think you are a big baby…
..they think you should have gotten better by now..
…they forget that you “still have” that invisible illness…
…they get tired of hearing the same things…
..they lose patience with you..
…you do not want to tell people..
…you lose friends…
..You self isolate…
Yes, that is often what ends up happening. That is one of the reasons that people with invisible illness and invisible suffering turn to the world of blogging. We have to be able to talk and to connect with someone.
The only people who really understand are people who have been through it or are going through it.
The isolating process can begin with other people giving up on you, getting tired of you, or not wanting to listen to you anymore. You lose one ot two friends and family members. The you are afraid to lose the rest of them.
You do not actively go out and seek new people because you fear the pain of rejection from them. “Why should you put yourself through this again”….is what your brain is saying.
The isolating can begin with ourselves, because it is too much effort or too painful to interact with other people, especially if they do not believe or understand what we are going through.
The retraumatization can be severe. When people just simply do not believe you or think you are exaggerating, that is one of the worst things you can go through.
Then, of course, there are people who are predators, and they prey on the weak ones, who are desperate for understanding and companionship. If you have been set up and abused, because of your invisible condition, then it is very difficult to trust people again…or to trust your own judgement of who is safe and who is not.
We can also be retraumatized by bad therapists, counselors and insensitive doctors and nurses. I have heard horror stories of what people have gone through at treatment facilities, rehab facilities and emergency rooms. I have also experienced insensitive therapists and healthcare workers.
So where does this leave us? In pain…suffering…in need of human compassion…and isolated…
Some people physically isolate themselves in their homes. Other people build walls up around themselves and self isolate by disconnecting from other humans emotionally.
We can be around people all day long, yet be completely alone.
Some people cannot leave their house or apartment.
Other people just leave the house to go to work, and do necessary errands, and then self isolate themselves in their house, the rest of the time. This would be me…
When you have reached your limit of being traumatized and re-traumatized, then your mammalian instinct of self protection is going to kick in. Your brain wants to protect itself from any more trauma and abuse.
At some point, the world appears to be a dark and dangerous place to interact with people in, when you are suffering from an invisible enemy. No one can see your enemy and therefore it feels like you are fighting alone.
You energy is going into fighting against your invisible illness, mental illness, or trauma from abuse. You do not have a whole lot of energy left for reaching out to people who might end up hurting you. You do not have a lot of energy to explain and re-explain to people about your invisible illness.
You do not have energy to make new friends, knowing that at some point you have to explain to them about your invisible enemy. There is no guarantee they will understand you or stick around once they find out, anyway.
Your energy is focused on survival. Your little bit of energy that is left, is focused on just getting through one day at a time. Relationships take time and energy and after a while it can seem like there simply is not enough energy to go around.
I do not have any simple answer for this problem. I wanted to at least validate the people who are nodding their heads up and down, as they are reading this.
You are not alone, in being alone. You may be alone in your house at this moment, feeling isolated and different than everyone else. But there are other people who feel the same way.
The isolating is a normal reaction to being traumatized, suffering mental wounds and suffering pain of any kind. It is an instinct to survive be separating from potential danger.
It is also an instinct to preserve whatever energy is left, in order to use to heal and survive.
If there is any approach to this problem that could work, it would lie in the matter of balance. We have to constantly balance the various aspects of our lives.
We cannot have the same amount of energy every day. Some days we feel better than other days. On our better days, we can try to reach out a little bit. Go somewhere with people or call someone on the phone. Text someone or send and email. Whatever is in your comfort zone for that particular day.
There will be days when interacting with others is impossible. But some days we might be able to reach out, just a little bit. Do what you can and take advantage of any days that are kind of good.
Who you should reach out to and talk to, depends on what is good for you. Some of you have friends that you can all on the phone. Some people would be able to go out to a place where there are strangers and interact a little bit with them.
On good days, I can go to places like a museum or a farmers market and interact with people that I see.
Another way to get some compassionate human interaction, is to do some volunteer work. Nursing homes will often let you come and visit. You may have to set things up, to be a volunteer ahead of time. The people you visit at places like this, will not judge you in the same ways that you are afraid of your friends or family judging you.
Animals are also great. Pets are good companions. As you know, if you read my blog, I get great joy and comfort from my bunny. I also like to go to places with a animals. There is a place called Sun High Orchard, near my house. They have bunnies and sheep that you can pet and feed.
Sometimes you can go to speciality stores where the people will talk with you. Some places like that would be: comic book stores, craft stores, tattoo parlors, hobby shops and book stores. Any place where people gather, that have a similar interest.
It is okay. Sometimes we need to self isolate for a while to heal our brains. But if the isolation is becoming a problem for you, then do a little bit of interacting on the good days and just rest in bed on the harder days. Balance is the key to most problems in life.
We are supportive of each other here and WordPress has been a blessing for me. I love hearing from the people that follow my blog and I consider the interactions meaningful.
Blessings to all,
Gentle Mental Annie is a blog that has a bit if this and that, but focuses on mental illness. I want to create awareness that people with mental illness need to be treated like people and that the stigma about mental illness can be unfair and leave us at more of a disadvantage than we already are in.
People with mental illness are unique, individual humans. There many types and many levels of mental illness. Many of us would have been “normal” had it not been for mental abuse, physical abuse or other ongoing abuse during childhood.
Others of us have mental disorders from traumatic experiences. Mental illness does not mean “Crazy” and it does not mean “Dangerous.”
It is true that there are dangerous people in the world, but there are far more people with mental disorders of some kind, than there are dangerous people in the world..
There are only a few types of mental disorders which can lead the sufferers to become dangerous to other people. These disorders, are not common and people with these disorders are not always dangerous to other people.
People with depression, severe anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, C-PTSD and other types of mental illnesses suffer from types of mental torment, which cause us problems in our own lives. Some of us may inflict self harm at times, but we are not in any way harmful to other people.
We are in just as much danger from the dangerous, predators of the world as “normal” people, if not more. Predators like to target people that are already having mental suffering. It makes them feel good to inflict pain upon people that are already in pain.
We often feel out of place, misunderstood and handicapped about competing in the work world in the world in general. Most of us are perfectly capable of working and also of being loyal, wonderful friends. Some people with mental illness have trouble working for various reason, but it is not out of laziness or a desire to manipulate the system.
Mental illness affects the brain in an actual organic way. In this way, mental illness is a physical disorder just as much as physical disabilities are. People in wheelchairs are given support and extra help to function, but people with mental illness are usually not.
Whereas people with physical disabilities are often open to be able to discuss their limitations and ask for what kind of support they need, many people with mental illness are afraid of the being judged and misunderstood.
Due to the stigma of mental disorders, many people do not seek help, for fear that a record of the diagnosis would ruin them. We often fear for our jobs and fear other types of discrimination. There are suicides each year that could have been prevented, if the people would have not been afraid to receive a diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness.
There is a fear of us losing our job, and having people treat us in ways that are condescending, fearful, critical and judgemental. Once people know you have a mental illness, often they see you differently. There is no going back in time and taking back the fact that they know.
Many people think that mental illness is something that you can just “get over” and that it is all in the person’s head.
Well, it is in the head, but there are neurological and chemical differences in people with different types of mental illness. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder looks one way in the brain. Depression looks another way in the brain. The brains of people with these disorders do not work in the way the brain was designed to work.
PTSD for example has an overactive amygdala, which is the fear center of the brain. The person can become triggered by reminders of their original trauma and the amygdala goes into hyper alert mode. This is not in control of the person and they cannot just turn it off.
The overload of fear chemicals and the amygdala in the “on” position, causes the person to go into a “fight or flight” mode. During an episode the person feels just like you would if there were a giant, scary dog cornering you and growling in a threatening way to you.
Just because you cannot see mental illness does not mean that it is not real. If you suffer from mental illness you are aware of the frustration of the lack of empathy about this problem
The more we make a place for ourselves in the world, the better off we will be. My blog to create awareness and it is also to be a support system.
I try to write posts that are informative and helpful. I try to write in a way that extends empathy and compassion to people with mental disorder like depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses.
Many of us have suffered abuse which we may or may not be aware is the root cause of our mental illness. Many of us have also suffered trauma and retraumatization as adults. Some of this had been because we were easy targets for predators.
Some of us have experienced retraumatization at the hands of therapists and counselors. It is always a risk to place your brain into the hands of another person, who claims to know how to help you.
I feel that blogging can be an additional therapy to any treatment plan you are in. Blogging opens up a world of expression and interactions with people who can understand how you feel…sometimes better than the therapist actually understands how you feel.
We all need to be heard and validated. We need to accepted for who we are…at least by some people.