Pteridophobia: The Fear of Fern

Pteridophobia The Fear of Fern

Pteridophobia is the fear of fern, and it happens to be one of the rarest phobias on earth. A fun fact about this phobia, which may also be the first thing you see when you search for pteridophobia is that Sigmund Freud (the father of psychoanalysis) had it.

Pteridophobia falls into a category of phobias known as botanophobia. All plant and garden-related phobias are known as botanophobia, so that explains how the fear of fern is classified as botanophobia.

The fear of fern is also classified as a specific phobia because what is feared is known.

There have been a couple of testimonies about people who have an intense fear of fern, but because there is little or no information about this phobia, those who have it may mistake their fears for something else.

In this article, we will share all that you should know about pteridophobia, including its symptoms, possible causes, and treatment options.

What is pteridophobia?

Pteridophobia is an intense or irrational fear of fern. The word pteridophbia was coined from two Greek words ‘pteris’ which is Greek for fern, and “Phobos” which is Greek for fear.

While there is no information on the how Sigmund Freud, dealt with his intense fear for fern, it is much easier to assume that he avoided his fear rather than search for possible ways to combat it.

In the Victorian British era, the love for fern made the term pteridomania quite popular. People loved house plants, but fern made the top of most loved plant ranking at the time. People at the time had fern in their homes instead of other forms of house decorations.

The love also brought about the popularity of fern inspired ornament culture. What this means is that around the time when Freud allegedly dealt with an irrational fear of fern, people in Britain were uncontrollably in love with fern.

People who have pteridophobia may avoid taking a walk along paths with fern, stay away from gardens, and avoid things and events that may cause them to see or deal with fern. While it is OK not to like some plants, when this dislike cause begins to cause discomfort and anxiety, or when it affects other aspects of a person’s life, its time to seek help.

The questions that we seek to answer include what could cause a fear of fern, and how do people with this phobia manage or get over their fears.

What are the symptoms of pteridophobia?

  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Avoidant behaviour
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

What are the possible causes of pteridophobia?

Like other phobias, there are no identified causes of pteridophobia. The possible causes of pteridophobia may include learned behaviour, personal experience with poisonous fern, or stories of people who have had bad experiences associated with fern.

Also, some fern may be poisonous to humans, and this may tigger fears in people who read oe know about them.

Treatment for pteridophobia

There is no treatment specifically designed for pteridophobia. However, there are some common treatment methods generally adopted for the treatment of phobias, and they can be considered for the treatment of fear of fern phobia.

Some of the possible treatment options include cognitive behavioural therapy and exposure therapy.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy for pteridophobia

Cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the most famous treatment methods for specific phobias.

The goal of cognitive behavioural therapy is to make a person dealing with sure phobia understand why they have such fears, and why the fears are irrational and need to be managed.

At the end of cognitive-behavioural therapy, which is usually a short-term treatment method, a person with the phobia should be able to face their fears without dealing with any discomfort.

Exposure therapy for pteridophobia

Exposure therapy involves the gradual exposure of a person with a phobia to the object of their fear. This gradual exposure is done in a safe environment by a therapist.

In the case of a person with pteridophobia, the therapist may begin the gradual exposure process by having them look at pictures of fern.

The next step may involve exposure to videos of people playing happily with fern; then the therapist may proceed to expose the patient to artificial fern. Finally, the patient will be exposed to actual fern as they become more comfortable.

At the end of the exposure therapy, a person with pteridophobia will understand that their fear of fern is irrational and that they can live their lives without such fears.

Medication for pteridophobia

There are no specific drugs or medicine used for the treatment of pteridophobia or any kind of phobia. However, sometimes, medications to manage symptoms such as anxiety may be prescribed.

Kindly note that medications for managing the symptoms of phobias are short fixes and may not be necessary as they can cause dependence. The best method of treatment for any form of phobia is therapy, and advice from a mental health professional.

Final thoughts on pteridophobia

People who have pteridophobia may not be motivated to seek professional help because this phobia is not one of the common ones around.

However, if there was more awareness of the fear of fern phobia, then more people will find it easy to speak up and seek help. Ensure that you seek help immediately if your fear of fern disturbs your daily life and activities such as work and school.

Usually, such a specific fear will have to have existed for more than six months for it to be classified as a phobia. But if your fears have caused you anxiety or other forms of disturbance, you do not have to wait that long to seek help.


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