Fear of Being Watched Phobia – Scopophobia

The term Scopophobia is connoted form the Greek words “skopein” and “phobos” which means to examine or look and profound fear respectively.

Whether we decide to accept it or otherwise, whenever we go out we are walking directly into the public eye. Staring at someone is one of the means of catching an attention but for those who are scopophobic, it affects their mental health. It is a prolonged and fixed look for an amount of time as a result of intense affection for someone. While a fixed gaze by some people might be fascinating to some, it can be quite overwhelming to others especially the shy ones.


Scopophobia, scoptophobia, or ophthalmophobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by a morbid fear of being seen or stared at by others. Scopophobia can also be associated with a pathological fear of drawing attention to oneself.

Phobias are formed by negative overstated thought processes that happen in certain conditions. They occur like chain reactions which means one thought triggers another until they become intense causing anxiety and fear.

Scopophobia is an anxiety disorder and it is the profound fear of being stared, looked or gazed upon by others. There are two ways this could have effect on those suffering from scopophobia. It can either be the fear of being watched always or being unable to step outside as they feel they will catch unneeded attentions. Those suffering from scopophobia will be unable to communicate well because they have the fear of being looked at.

Symptoms  Of Fear of Being Watched

When individuals with scopophobia are subjected to public, they experience a high rate of panic attacks when they are being stared at or at the mere thought of it. Other symptoms of scopophobia include:

  • No form of social life as they tend to be discouraged due to their mental health
  • Abstaining from situations that will make them vulnerable to being watched by people such as public speaking.
  • Emotional and physical symptoms such as depression, anxiety disorder, palpitations, sweating profusely and so on may affect the persons life if left untreated.
  • Complete isolation due to the refusal to step out.

Causes Of Scopophobia

The fear of being stared or watched can be considered as both specific and social phobia since it is a specific occurrence that happens in a social setting. To overcome a phobia you have to find out how it is created.

Psychological therapists and other mental health doctors such as Psychiatric specialists use the term scopophobia in their field. For psychiatrists the existence of extreme anxiety and strange reactions to social situations can be a symptom of a psychiatric illness. Schizophrenia is a psychiatric illness that has scopophobia as one of its symptoms.

  • Traumatic event: a physical deformity either by an accident or illness can cause people to stare, people who have been an object of mockery especially children are more prone to develop the fear of being looked at.
  • People with low self esteem which can be as a result of their body sizes, people with other social disorders such as stage fright are likely to develop this phobia.
  • People suffering from epilepsy are liable to develop scopophobia. They have seizures which make people stare at them.

Treatment Of Scopophobia

Just like every other social phobias, overcoming scopophobia is not as hard as most people think. The best treatment option that can help overcome this fear is by deliberately altering the thoughts that causes the distress. A bashful individual will avoid eye contacts or feel withdrawn to talk in public due to the fear of being disliked. Prior preparations for social situations such as practicing what to say can assist in overcoming scopophobia. Other medical advice that can help cure scopophobia include:

  • Exposure therapy: what you feel at first when exposed to a set of people staring at you might be to cover your eyes with your hands, scream or try to run away from the scene. However, the best thing you could ever do is to face what scares you. The step by step exposure to what initiates your anxiety by a therapist is known as Exposure Therapy and it is the best approach in getting rid of a phobia. What can be difficult is finding a therapist who can be trusted to help a scopophobe through the difficult conditions.

Nevertheless, if your anxiety is so intense, making it impractical to face your fears, you can learn more about relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga and choose the one that suits you. They help in managing the anxiety derived from triggers.

Giving your body the necessary care by having adequate sleep, regular workout sessions, taking balanced diet and multivitamins will enhance good health.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: if you are nervous of people staring at you then you will have certain thoughts that heighten your fear. This is a method used by therapists to identify and confront the thoughts and feelings associated with the triggers. It involves the ways to alter the improper patterns of thinking you have developed and the behaviors emanating from them.
  • Medications: medicines are used to treat anxieties related to this phobia and it can be prescribed by any doctor.

Do have in mind that the medications used to treat physical symptoms and depression associated with scopophobia will just have effect temporarily. The use of medications is not a permanent way of getting rid of a phobia.

  • Neuro linguistic programming: it can be called NLP and it involves reprogramming the constructs created by the phobia. This method is quite effective and fast.
  • Hypnotherapy: this therapy works by reprogramming the subconscious. When this is done the symptoms of scopophobia are often minimized. This method is safe and works very fast. Although, some people do not like the idea of letting someone play with their personal mind.
  • You can talk about your fear of being watched with someone close to you. Talking to someone can help ease what you are going through. If you do not feel good talking to someone about what you feel, you can consider joining an online forum where you will meet different people in the same shoes as you are and those that have overcome this phobia. Numerous ideas on how to get rid this fear will be discussed.

Scopophobia can become more complicated if left untreated as it interferes with a person’s daily life by inducing isolation and depression.

The fear of being watched with a feeling of being ridiculed or looked down on discloses embarrassment as a stirring force behind Scopophobia. It is essential to make yourself happy by developing a high self esteem and not paying attention to those that want get you ridiculed.


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