Fear Of Long Words Phobia

The fear of long words or  hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is derived from the greek words “hippopotamine”, “monstr” and “sesquippedali” meaning something very large, horrifying and a measurement of a foot and half length respectively. Most people often think this phobia is fictional but it is real.

The human mind is capable of developing fears and phobias towards a particular situation but human beings can be afraid of almost everything and one of them is hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia.

Words go a long way in expressing how we feel and communicating with one another. On the other hand when a word is too long and looks enormous it can be quite disturbing.

This phobia is an excessive and strong fear of being confronted with long and extremely large words and it is mostly considered as an unreal or fabricated one.


SYMPTOMS of the Phobia Of Long Words

As each individual is different from the other so will the symptoms be? It can be classified as mental, physical and emotional symptoms.

Physical symptoms of this phobia include: heart palpitations, crying, nauseating, headaches and avoiding situations associating with long words especially in academics. Emotional and mental symptoms will include depression, inability to control feelings when faced with long words and passing out.

However, some certain criteria must be met before you can really ascertain suffering from hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia- the fear of long words. These criteria are;

  • The feeling felt must be uncontrollable, intense, horrible and irrational and it also must be triggered by the presence or thoughts of large words.
  • The exposure to large words must create a panic attack.
  • Situations that will cause panic attacks are always avoided or hardly endured with a strong sense of disgust.
  • These avoidance behaviors and symptoms which occur even when thinking about long words interrupts work, academics and everyday routine.



CAUSES of The Fear of Long Words

  • Traumatic event

Situations that might have caused distress while learning syllables alphabets or words can bring about the existence of this phobia. For example, in children, inability to learn or pronounce words at an early age can make them be a subject of mockery amongst their peers making them feel nervous when faced with extremely large words.

What you fear is a pattern, it becomes a part of you because you will trust that the source of the fear is real.


  • Heredity

People are more prone to developing this phobia if they have a previous family history with phobias and other kinds of disorders and depression. No one is born with a phobia which means it can also be as a result of a learnt behavior, being close to someone with this phobia can make a person duplicate it.


Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is a kind of specific phobia which is caused by events which are recorded as harmful or deadly by some parts of the brain called amygdala and hippocampus. When faced with long words or at the mere thought of it the body reacts as if the same event is about to happen.


Fear of long Words TREATMENT

Despite the fact that most people think of it as being unrealistic, it can be quite real and the good news is that it can be trounced. Some of the ways are:

  • Confront hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia

This fear registers itself in the subconscious which in turn tries to defend you from perceived danger by responding quickly to the threat, this is known as a flight response.

You can confront this phobia by exposing yourself gradually to long words, try reading long words little by little. Although, this can be quite uncomfortable at first but it will get better with time by constant practices. You will get over this fear before you know it.


  • Avoid spellings

If you are not able to stand up to this fear you can as well avoid it. You can steer clear from reading or memorizing long words. A better way is to substitute long words with shorter synonymous words for example if you have colleagues or friends with long names you could substitute them with initials. Breaking long words into syllables will also help whenever you are studying as words are originated from pieces of syllables.

  • Medications

Medications should be prescribed by a doctor and they do not act as permanent solution to this phobia. They only suppress the symptoms associated with hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. Medicines should be used as stated by your physician as overdose will be termed as an abuse and could have serious side effects on your health.


  • Havening

The process of havening was brought into existence by a virtuoso restorative specialist called Dr Ronald Ruden. It is a new treatment that is designed to enable people to overcome fears associated with traumatic events with the use of therapeutic patterns like counting and murmuring. The havening method or amygdala depotentiation method alters the biological structure of the brain and the individuals involved in this method are fully aware of their thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. They put on the required concentration.

  • Relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditations, breathing in and breathing out can help reduce your anxiety and confront your fear successfully.

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