Epistemophobia is defined as the morbid and irrational fear of knowledge or the fear of wisdom. People with this phobia could fear knowledge or wisdom in general, or only certain types. For example, some people may be afraid of learning anything knew, while others may just fear only one subject or fear gossip about a particular person.
This fear is also very prevalent in those with other psychological disorders, but that will be discussed in a later section.
Symptoms of Epistemophobia
Symptoms or characteristics of people with Epistemophobia will vary from one person to another, depending on a variety of factors. Higher levels of fear, for instance, will cause more symptoms or symptoms of greater severity.
General symptoms of Epistemophobia include avoidance of school, avoidance of books or television which have the potential for teaching, racing thoughts, delusions, etc. Delusions in the case of Epistemophobics could be a thought that they “know too much” regarding a person or situation and that a person is after them. This will also be discussed under “Causes”.
Now, if a person with Epistemophobia is forced to learn something they may go into a panic attack, which is loosely defined as a heightened state of anxiety or terror. Symptoms of a panic attack include rapid heart beat, breathing difficulties, feeling a loss of control, excessive sweating, chills, tingling or numbness, weakness, fainting, dizziness, and chest pain.
Causes of Epistemophobia
Like symptoms, causes of Epistemophobia will vary by the individual. Most often, phobias are caused by a trauma, which usually occurs during childhood. Although, this is far less common and difficult to explain in the case of the fear of knowledge.
A more likely explanation of Epistemophobia would be the presence of another psychological disorder, such as Schizophrenia. This disorder is marked by delusions and hallucinations. So again, a person with Schizophrenia would fear gaining knowledge as part of the fear that someone could read their thoughts, or that someone is after them because of what they know. Schizophrenics also suffer from racing thoughts, which could lead to a fear of knowledge. Racing thoughts occurs when a person mind bounces from one thought to another very rapidly.
Phobias also do not have to have one specific cause. They could occur for seemingly no reason whatsoever. It all depends on the person.
Treatment for Epistemophobia
Proper treatment depends upon the individual. For most, therapy is a great option. Not only does it help to understand the root of the phobia, but also to extinguish it. For instance, Cognitive-behavioral therapy or shock/exposure therapy work to change the way a person reacts to or thinks about the stimulus, in this case, knowledge. These types of therapy put people within direct exposure to gained knowledge.
However, for those who suffer from a legitimate psychological disorder, medication is another great option. Anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications can help to alleviate anxiety and fear associated with the phobia or panic attacks. Specially designed medications are also available to treat those with, for example, Schizophrenia. It can help to calm them and decrease instances of racing thoughts.