Nomatophobia: The Fear of Names

Nomatophobia: The Fear of Names

Nomatophobia is the fear of names. As unbelievable as it may seem, some people actually have an irrational fear of names.

Names are like tags that we use to identify ourselves and other people or things. It is what makes it easy for us to address individuals that we meet in order to help other people know when we are referring to them and not just addressing the group.

When a person becomes afraid of names, they are said to suffer from Nomatophobia.

This phobia is only expressed when a person attributes fear to the individual or entity bearing the name. The phobia can be so profound that it is triggered simply by saying the name.

The sound of the feared name would invoke multiple symptoms of this irrational fear.

The word nam is of Latin origin (meaning name), and the word phobia is of Greek origin (meaning fear). Nomatophobia is categorized to be a specific phobia.

Nomatophobia is also closely related to Onomatophobia, which is the irrational fear of hearing a particular name or word.

Causes of nomatophobia (fear of names)

Nomatophobia is a fear that often begins as a result of superstition. For example, there is reason to believe that the use of names is avoided in sporting events due to a fear of jinxing the whole team.

This fear is also subtlety introduced in our societies as some individuals who have prominence in a place may not be called by their proper name.

This is likely because of the fear associated with the perceived power that the individual may have.

A good percentage of people cannot in good conscience talk about the devil. The name will most likely bring up fears they are not mentally prepared to deal with.

In some cultures around the world, it is not permissible to call out the name of their god. This is also reflected in their writing as they become a bit cryptic in the manner with which they refer to the deity they worship.

The fear, in this case, is essentially the outcome of the power that the individual transfers to the importance of a name.

That fear may be honor and reverence or the belief that calling out the name will result in the entity or individual hearing about it and then exacting retribution.

This idea might also be connected to a school bully or a feared gang leader. It may be even a great challenge for someone who deals with this fear to whisper the feared name.

Nevertheless, It is a generally accepted conclusion that phobias may arise from a combination of external factors and events ( such as traumatic events) as well as internal predispositions (such as heredity or genetics).

Many specific phobias such as this can be traced back to a particular triggering event, most likely a traumatic experience at a tender age.

Agoraphobia and social phobias have causes that are more complex and not entirely known at present.

It is believed that genetics, heredity, and brain chemistry, together with life experiences, play a major role in the development of all phobias.

Symptoms of Nomatophobia (fear of names)

As with any phobia that exists, the symptoms greatly vary by person depending on the level of fear they experience.

The most common symptoms of all phobias are heart palpitations, trembling, chest pains, elevated blood pressure, rapid speech, shortness of breath, inability to speak, upset stomach, dry mouth, nausea, and cold or hot flashes.

One of the factors that may allow this phobia to appear somewhat less severe than others is the fact that those who deal with this fear are simply able to avoid saying the name which they fear.

The negative, however, would be the reaction they might have to experience if someone else calls a ‘forbidden’ name out loud.

The most common symptoms of Nomatophobia includes:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • A keen sense of panic
  • Sweating
  • Furtive glances to see if the object of dread may show up
  • Fainting
  • A desire to hide
  • Trembling
  • Acute anxiety

Those who suffer from a fear of names may be quite vocal about wanting you and other people to stop using the name they find offensive and even promise never to repeat it.

While this may seem silly to a person who does not have such kind of fear, it is quite essential to the nomatophobe.

How to overcome the fear of names

This fear is quite real and intense, but it may not be a readily noticeable one until and unless a feared or offensive name is brought up in random or normal conversation.

A person who deals with this irrational fear may have to seek counseling if the root cause of the fear has been identified, and a recovery solution has been developed.

It may not be enough to try to explain to the nomatophobe that the specific name which they fear does not have any special power.

In their minds, the names do have power, and that power may possibly be used to cause them harm. In this area, they seek to protect themselves by trying to adopt a name-free lifestyle.

These people have justified their response over time, so a brief lecture on faulty logic will not be of so much help as it might serve to put a distance between you and that individual.

Can I take medicine to treat nomatophobia?

While medicine use isn’t the best approach, medicine can be prescribed by your therapist. However, it is essential to note that these medications can have some severe side effects or withdrawal systems that may be severe.

It is also imperative to note that there are no medicines designed to cure phobias. At best, the medications will only temporarily suppress the systems.

Unfortunately, in the quest for quick fixes, some people turn to alcohol and illegal drugs to treat their phobia symptoms.

All of these also do not treat phobias, but they can cause the person to develop an addiction to them.

Thankfully, there are some effective treatments for phobias, such as exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other forms of psychotherapy treatment.

In some cases, one treatment method or a combination of methods may be adopted. How these methods work on patients is determined by the individual’s response.

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