|Pediophobia is the fear for dolls or mannequins / Photo by Maxpixel.net|
Dolls are usually a source of entertainment for children. Many kids would treat dolls as if they were their friend or their own children. They would name them, dress them up and converse with them like they are breathing, living beings.
Yet for some, instead of seeing dolls as merely innocent adorable playthings, they view them as a source of horror. Just being near one or seeing a picture of it could send shivers down their spine or make them feel like hiding or escaping. A person who is extremely afraid of dolls has Pediophobia, a fear that can affect both adults and children.
According to fearof.net, Pediophobia refers to the “unwarranted, irrational and persistent fear or worry of dolls.” It is derived from the two Greek terms “Paidion” meaning “little child” and “Phobos” meaning “fear” or deep dread”. It is also considered a type of Automatonophobia, which is the fear of mannequins or humanoid of objects.
People who suffer from Pediophobia can be afraid of dolls in general or just certain kinds of dolls. For example, they may only be scared of porcelain dolls.
PsycholoGenie states that these may be some of the reasons why an individual is affected by Pediophobia:
This phobia may be triggered by a combination of genetic factors such as brain chemistry, heredity and the predisposition to have a negative perception of dolls.
The pediophobe may have experienced something in the past that is connected to dolls. Whenever they see a doll, it makes them recall the traumatic event. For instance, when they were children, their older siblings may have told them scary stories about how the doll in their room moves around at night and will attack them while they sleep.
They feel that the dolls may come alive which tends to creep them out. They may doubt if the doll is actually lifeless or not. Having thoughts like this can make them nervous and anxious.
In movies and fictional stories, dolls are brought to life through some random event or by someone casting a magic spell on them, Very Well Mind says. As the doll becomes a living being, it proceeds to kill or hurt humans.
Uncanny Valley Hypothesis
The Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori proposed that Pediophobia may be induced by what he called the Uncanny Valley. He hypothesized that objects that appear human-like, such as dolls and mannequins, may elicit a positive reaction at first since they look familiar. They observe that they have features similar to humans like eyes, feet, hands and other body parts.
However, as they notice later how unhuman-like they actually are, their brain begins to think that there is something off about the objects. Observing that they do not breathe or they seem to stare blankly can make dolls appear eerie.
|Dolls appearing eerie for staring blankly / Photo by Eirien via Flickr|
Relation to Witchcraft
Some dolls are associated with divination, like voodoo dolls. If a person burns a voodoo doll, it curses another person. In this context, the pediophobe may think of dolls as a source of misfortune or as evil things.
At the sight of a doll, an individual suffering from Pediophobia may have an intense negative emotional response to it such as running away, screaming or crying. They may perceive the doll as a threat, thinking it may harm them in some way. They may also shiver, experience heart palpitations, sweat excessively, have dry mouth, have rapid breathing and feel nauseous.
A patient with Pediophobia may be treated using various treatment methods. Phobics may go through different therapies, take medicines or use relaxation techniques.
In Psychotherapy, otherwise known as talk therapy, a psychiatrist or psychologist talks to them about the problems they have related to their Pediophobia. Being able to consult these mental health experts may aid them in pointing out the root cause of their fear. After going through regular counseling sessions, they may able to manage their behaviors, moods, and emotions more.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is said to be the most proven treatment option that has helped patients recover from their phobia. Under this therapy, the therapist will guide the phobic in altering their thought patterns. They will help direct their negative thoughts about dolls into positive ones. Doing this will make it easier for the pediophobe to deal with their fear.
Exposure therapy is a type of behavioral therapy wherein the phobia is deliberately presented to the phobic. Basically, that means that the pediophobe will constantly be presented with dolls. As the phobic begins the session, they may feel anxious at their initial intentional exposure to dolls. Eventually, as they keep being exposed to dolls, they can gradually be able to deal with their negative feelings better.
Only adult pediophobes may be prescribed anti-anxiety medication. This medicine may help address the symptoms of Pediophobia. However, it is not proven by research that anti-anxiety medication may actually cure a patient of their fear of dolls. Before taking this medication, they must ask the advice of a doctor.
Using relaxation techniques can help reduce the phobic’s anxiety associated with dolls. The patient may try meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and yoga. Imagining themselves being in a calm and comforting place may also help them recover from their phobia.