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I remember being a child and thinking there were monsters in my closet or hiding under my bed. The fear was so real that my heart would race and my palms would sweat, as I called for my parents to come to my room. Can you relate?
I’m betting you can… since teraphobia is very common in pre-school aged children – and can even linger into their elementary years. In fact, there have also been documented cases of teraphobia in teens and adults, although more rare.
These cases are usually driven by something a bit more specific (think horror movies, urban legends, poltergeists or the fear of a true evil).
Today, we’re going to educate you on this fascinating phobia… whether your own child or grandchild is suffering from it, or someone else. Maybe it’s you? Or maybe you’re just curious?
We will define teraphobia, learn how to identify its symptoms, explore potential causes of this fear and provide a few actionable strategies to overcome it.
What is Teraphobia?
Simply put, teraphobia is a fear of monsters. It can lead or extend to a fear of the dark, as those who suffer from this phobia may begin to wonder what is lurking in the darkness.
According to an article from BestLife, the fear of what’s under the bed (a form of teraphobia) is among the 20 most common childhood fears. In fact, 87 percent of Americans won't sleep with their feet outside of the blanket, for fear of being snatched up by The Boogeyman.
My children, ages 7-11, won’t sleep without covers… no matter how hot it is. I think they believe it’s some sort of forcefield. I know I used to at their age. And, honestly, whatever makes them feel safe is ok by me.
Symptoms of Teraphobia
As with any phobia, symptoms of teraphobia will typically present themselves in a few common ways. These include:
Other symptoms, specific to teraphobia, include feelings of:
Causes of Teraphobia
Causes of any phobia are often rooted in a childhood experience. Generally speaking, things like a parents’ divorce or death of a loved one can trigger phobias. Also, social circumstances can come into play, like being teased at school or fears of not being good enough.
But phobias don’t necessarily have to be triggered by a traumatic experience, especially for a phobia such as this, which is most prominant in young children.
That said, possible causes of teraphobia often include:
How to Treat Teraphobia
There are different ways of treating teraphobia, depending on the age of the person afflicted with it.
When treating teraphobia in a young child, the following methods (or combination of) may work:
For older children, adults or severe cases of teraphobia, you may want to consider:
Final Thoughts on Teraphobia
If you read this article to the end, you are one of two kinds of people. You are either someone whose life has been affected by teraphobia in some way or you’re a non-believer who has your doubts that this is a real thing. Well, I’m here to tell you it is.
In fact, Disney even made a little movie based on teraphobia. You may have heard of it… Monsters Inc.? It grossed $577.4 million at the box office – and its sequel a whopping $743.6 million, both earning their place in the top 10 grossing Pixar Films of all time since their release.
Just as with any other phobia, teraphobia is one to be taken seriously. If it is scary enough to disrupt someone’s life, it is worth trying to find help. Not doing so can lead to a slew of physical and mental issues, some of which may not be as easily cured.
Nicole Krause has been writing both personally and professionally for over 20 years. She holds a dual B.A. in English and Film Studies. Her work has appeared in some of the country’s top publications, major news outlets, online publications and blogs. As a happily married (and extremely busy) mother of four… her articles primarily focus on parenting, marriage, family, finance, organization and product reviews.