Mottephobia is the morbid and irrational fear of moths, although it has also been used in reference to the fear of butterflies. This phobia does not describe the typical “bugs are gross” response that so many people have. Rather, people who suffer from Mottephobia are legitimately afraid of moths and butterflies, and this fear gets taken to the extreme.
Again, it is important to note that phobias are irrational fears. People with Mottephobia experience extreme senses of terror beyond any normal human reaction when presented with moths or butterflies.
Symptoms of Mottephobia
Not everyone with Mottephobia will experience the exact same symptoms as one another. Symptoms of Mottephobia will vary depending upon the individual’s characteristics, such as mental state, and level of fear.
As is stated above, an extreme sense of terror is a very common symptom amongst Mottephobia sufferers. General anxiety, especially when walking through moths’ and/or butterflies’ natural habitats, is also normal for people with Mottephobia.
If the fear is severe enough, a full blown panic attack may occur when presented with moths or butterflies. Now, “presented” could mean anything from being near one of these creatures to simply seeing a picture of one. Anyway, symptoms of panic attacks include rapid heart rate, breathing difficulty, weakness, fainting, dizziness, tingling or numbness, sweating, chills, chest pain, the feeling of lost control. Some people may not even be able to speak or move during these states.
Causes of Mottephobia
As with symptoms, Mottephobia causes vary by the individual. Anyone can develop a phobia at any time, and for any reason. Furthermore, in some cases, phobias may develop without any cause at all.
However, when there is an exact cause, it is usually some sort of trauma, typically occurring during childhood. Traumatic events can lead a person to fear moths or butterflies for the rest of their lives, if not treated (will be discussed further down). For example, many children like to play with bugs. A close encounter with one of these creatures may have been very frightening for a young child. Even though an adult may not find them to be as scary, the association between fear and the creature still persists.
People may also be led to fear moths or butterflies because of allergies. People can be allergic to anything, and bug allergies are very common. This could also be considered a traumatic event, if the person had a severe allergic reaction at one point. Although, even if the individual never actually had a severe allergic reaction, the knowledge of their allergy could be enough to drive a sense of terror into them.
Others may simply just be afraid of moths or butterflies, for simple reasons. Many people just find them creepy, and fear them for this reason.
Treatment for Mottephobia
Treatment is another thing that varies from person to person. Some people respond better to certain types of treatments, others not so much.
However, despite proper treatment being so varied, therapy still seems to be a great go to option for phobics. Shock or exposure therapy is very helpful when the fear is some sort of creature, especially ones like moths and butterflies which are not actually dangerous in most cases. This type of therapy puts the individual within very close proximity, sometimes even touching, to moths or butterflies in order to desensitize them. This, along with Cognitive-behavioral therapy, decreases both fear and the reaction to the stimulus.
Medication is also available to treat anxiety, as well as the symptoms of panic attacks or severe reactions to moths or butterflies. Allergy medication can obviously help save someone from a serious reaction, but also alleviate the feelings of danger associated with them.
Knowledge of the animal is also important for coping with the fear of it. Some people are able to get over their phobia simply by learning about moths and butterflies by realizing they are not a threat.
Lastly, relaxation techniques, such as meditation and structured breathing exercises, are also helpful in soothing panic attacks and calming the nerves.