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Discussing Xenoglossophobia: The Fear of Foreign Languages

Xenoglossphobia is the fear of foreign language caused by being pressured to learn another language / Photo by Dizanna via 123RF

 

Xenoglossophobia is defined by Massive Phobia as the “ persistent and irrational fear of foreign languages.” It is classified as a specific phobia and can be a result of being pressured to study another language. This fear may also be linked to having learning disabilities. According to common-phobias.com, it is derived from the three Greek terms “xeno” meaning “foreign”, “glosso” meaning “language”, and “phobos” meaning “fear”.

When a person has Xenoglossophobia, it does not necessarily imply that they are afraid of foreigners. They may just feel fearful when they have to be around someone who speaks in numerous foreign languages. They may find it hard to handle living in some regions and countries. For instance, if they reside in a state like Florida where locals speak various languages such as French, Spanish, and English, it may be a struggle for them to get by. Since this may heighten their anxiety, they may decide to transfer to a place where others talk in their language.

Causes

It is not known what particularly induces Xenoglossophobia, but it is often attributed to environmental or genetic factors. For example, if their family has a record of having a certain mental disorder, they are also likely to acquire that mental disorder. Xenoglossophobia may be prompted by their genetic predisposition to having a mental illness, disorder.net says.

If the person already has a genetic predisposition for it, a traumatic circumstance may trigger them to get Xenoglossophobia. To illustrate, they may suffer from this phobia if they were attacked by a person who spoke a different language.

Their upbringing may also be a contributing factor to their phobia. Their parents may have warned them as a child to stay away from people who speak a different language, instilling in their mind that they can harm them or gossip about them without them understanding their conversation.

Symptoms

Individuals who are affected by Xenoglossophobia may feel anxious in the presence of others who speak different languages. Phobics with this fear feel threatened by people who speak several languages because they think they are evil. This phobia may also be partially induced by paranoia. They may think that when other people are talking in another language, they are saying bad things about them.

In severe cases, the anxiety they experience may be so overwhelming for them that they start to have panic attacks. In some instances, they may need to be rushed to a hospital. This may seldom happen to people who are suffering from Xenoglossophobia, however, there may be chances of this happening.

Due to this phobia, they may move to another location where other people speak the same language that they do. They will go to great lengths just to avoid people who talk in a foreign language, even it means going to a faraway place. This lessens the probability of having to bump into people who speak another language.

The symptoms that someone with Xenoglossophobia may exhibit are: Thinking that their language is more superior than other languages, staying away from individuals who talk in many languages, feeling anxious when they are near other people who speak in a foreign language, thinking about other languages causes them anxiety, not being able to handle their intense emotions, and having full-blown panic attacks.

 

They may also feel like they are unable to control the situation, have shallow breaths, experience heart palpitations, feel nauseous, have dry mouth, be unable to concentrate, be confused or be incapable of forming coherent words, be irritable, be shaking, feel powerless, sweat excessively, experience rapid breathing and have headaches.

Treatment

Although there are no treatments made specifically to address Xenoglossophobia, a phobic may opt to use other treatments used to help other people recover from phobias.

Most individuals who suffer from phobias are treated using Exposure Therapy, where a patient will gradually be exposed to their phobia for some duration. Even if it may cause them to be even more anxious when confronting their fear, this will aid in desensitizing the patient when facing their phobia. It is suggested that an expert therapist be the one handling the Exposure Therapy, as overexposing the patient may worsen their condition.

Those suffering from Xenoglossophobia may also try taking anti-anxiety medication, which is said to be more effective when they use as a supplement to therapy, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Exposure Therapy. If used alone, it may only alleviate symptoms for a short while. Additional therapies they may try are Group Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Response Prevention, and Energy Psychology.

Patients may also try to learn relaxation techniques and meditation as part of their alternative treatments.

If someone thinks they may have Xenoglossophia, they are advised to consult a doctor, who will be able to give them the appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Afterward, they will be told to seek the help of a psychiatrist or psychologist.

 

Exposure therapy is letting the patient exposed to their phobia for some duration / Photo by Elnur Amikishiyev via 123RF

 

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