Patroiophobia: The Fear of Heredity

Patroiophobia The Fear of Heredity

Heredity is the process by which parents pass down traits and characteristics in the form of genes to their biological offsprings.

Heredity is the reason why a child would look and act like either or both of his or her parents.

The traits that can be passed down may be phenotypical are the physical attributes of a person such as skin color, hair color, height, body structure, etc.

Whatever traits and characteristics that you may have, must have been inherited from your parents or ancestors, and you may pass some of them to your children.

That is how powerful heredity is. However, some of these traits are generally undesirable, for example, dwarfism, some deformities, color blindness, and some mental disorders.

Certain individuals may find it distressing to think that their children are likely to inherit some of the undesired traits. Fear begins to creep in, once they find out that there is no way to prevent such things from happening.

This fear may cause them so much distress and worry that they develop a condition known as patroiophobia. Patroiophobia is the extreme fear of heredity.

This condition should be addressed once diagnosed because it can be life-limiting.  

What is Patroiophobia? (Fear of heredity)

Patroiophobia is a term derived from the combination of the Latin word “Patro,” which means “father” and the Greek word “Phobos,” meaning “fear or aversion.”

Patroiophobia is regarded as a specific phobia, which means the intense fear of heredity. Persons with this condition live in constant fear that their children stand a chance of inheriting undesired traits.

Symptoms of Patroiophobia (Fear of heredity)

In the case of other phobias, persons with Patroiophobia, experience some of the following symptoms when exposed to anything relating to heredity:

  • Severe anxiety  
  • Inability to manage anxiety
  • Full-blown panic attacks
  • Avoiding discussion, information or anything relating to heredity
  • Heartbeat palpitation
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea
  • Feelings of dizziness
  • Fear of an impending doom
  • Excessive sweating
  • A sense of butterflies in the stomach
  • Mouth Dryness

If three to five of these symptoms are experienced even at the mere thought of heredity, consistently for six months, then the person may be diagnosed with patroiophobia.

Causes of Patroiophobia

Similar to other phobias, Patroiophobia has no exact cause. Experts believe that the development of the condition may be a result of some external factors.

These factors may include:

  • Genetics/heredity: Like traits, health conditions can be inherited by offsprings. Experts believe that phobias are inheritable as well. Ironically, heredity contributes to the development of the fear of heredity.
  • Traumatic experience: Generally, traumatic experiences are the most common factor known to cause phobias. Traumatic experiences are more like unforgettable unpleasant event which took place in the past but may still hurt the victim in a safe place. When someone gets bullied or mocked because they looked abnormal or that they are related to a person who looked abnormal, some other persons witnessing the ordeal may get terrified at the thought that it could happen to them when they start having children.  
  • Background and upbringing: While genetics makes up a good part of human features and behaviors, the environment also has a massive influence on humans. Living in an environment when children with undesired traits are bullied and their parents are mocked embeds a sick mentality in a person. Nobody would want their children to look abnormal or to be bullied, and no one would like to be mocked that way.

Therefore, Patroiophobia could be as a result of the combination of the factors mentioned above.

Treatment of Patroiophobia

No treatment is guaranteed to cure any phobia. However, therapy and medications may be applied to help an individual recover.


Consulting your therapist may help you recover from Patroiophobia. By sticking to your scheduled sessions with your therapist, who is equipped with the skills to help you overcome your fears.

Therapists are likely to use the following approaches:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This is the most commonly used approach in treating phobias. With the help of your therapist, CBT involves the identification of those negative and irrational thought patterns that are responsible for your fears and replaces them with positive ones.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Joining a DBT group is therapeutic. Even though DBT is used in the treatment of some personality disorders, it can be used in treating specific phobias, including Patroiophobia. DBT groups carry out a six-month program where you will be taught coping skills to help you stay in control of yourself when faced with the source of your fear.
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): MBSR is an eight-week program consisting of group sessions. In MBSR, mindful meditations are taught and practiced collectively as a group. After the meditation class, a group discussion is held where everyone gets to talk about mental health. In the course of this program, you will meet people like you and even make friends with some of them; that way, you will not feel lonely. With the support of your friends you will make there and that of the group coach, you will hopefully pull through.


Medications are not the cure of patroiophobia or any phobia, but they are helpful. Medicines are administered to help suppress the symptoms of patroiophobia, while you are going through therapy.

The following are the two types of medications used in the treatment of phobias, specifically patroiophobia.

  • Anti-anxiety Drugs: They are medicines known to lower anxiety by forming bonds with the receptor cells in your brain. These receptor cells may be responsible for some of the extreme symptoms of patroiophobia.  The medicine includes Valium.
  • Anti-depressant Drugs: These drugs are commonly used to treat depression, but they are considered competent in the treatment of phobias because they reduce anxiety. They include medicines such as Lexapro.

Note: These drugs may have side effects, and long-term use may result in addiction and dependence. Therefore, these drugs should be taken strictly based on your doctor’s prescription.


Meditating regularly helps calm your nerves and get you inner peace. It is known as a relaxation technique that allows the practitioner to escape negative thoughts. By taking deep breaths, your thoughts get channeled and motivated to be more positive and productive.

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