Although going to the doctor is positive because the health professional is going to try to help us, many people do not see it that way and are afraid, phobia . It is an irrational fear that some people suffer and is called iatrophobia . In reality, it is not only fear of doctors but of the entire group, among which you can find nurses, it can even be extended to everything related to health, such as medicines. When this condition occurs, you must seek help to treat it .

This disorder can be confused when a person is a hypochondriac . This last ailment is characterized because the person believes they have some disease, to such an extent that they convince themselves and diagnose it themselves because they believe they have all the symptoms of a disease . Although they go to the medical center or to hospitals, the truth is that they do not usually remain calm because they continue to believe that they may be the initial symptoms of a serious illness that can cause death . To know how to differentiate these two phobias is very simple, iatrophobia is an irrational fear of doctors and hypochondriacsthey are afraid of suffering a fatal disease or, failing that, a very serious one.

What is iatrophobia

Everyone knows that going to the doctor can be the solution to any health problem that one suffers, but there are people who do not see it that way, their reality is totally different from that of the vast majority, that is why they are afraid to visit the doctor . It’s funny because the first person we see at birth is a health professional, since delivery takes place in a hospital. It can be said that it is an extreme phobia that they cannot control themselves.

Phobias , are irrational fears that come to cause great anxiety and physical discomfort, so also the person avoid going to these places not feel bad because fear and anxiety take over them altogether and go really bad. These last ailments (fear) are survival mechanisms that have to do with the primitive part of the brain , so they are somewhat complex to treat. On the other hand, phobias and anxiety disorders can be overcome with the correct psychological treatment .

Causes of iatrophobia

Phobias in general are irrational fears that generally develop as a consequence of living a direct unpleasant experience for the patient that is related to the phobia suffered. This experience causes him a strong emotional impact that leaves him marked and with these types of consequences: phobia , in this case iatrophobia, fear of doctors . It’s true that phobias arise from a type of associative learning called classical conditioning , which was originally discovered by Ivan Pavlov , but popularized by John B. Watson .

This means that the phobia is attributed to being associated with something that the person does not like, something that could have happened in the past and that has dragged him to the present. For example, an experiment was carried out with a child, “the experiment with little Albert” by placing a white rat that he loved. The child smiled at this stimulus. Later, when they placed the rat, the scientists made an atrocious noise , then the baby began to cry. In this way it was learned that everything is related by behavior. To this day this experiment cannot be performed because it is considered unethical .

Phobias not only develop directly , but by observation, on this occasion by doctors , the simple fact of observing them produces that phobia. Therefore, the vicarious conditioning (learning through imitation) that an individual suffers is another cause that can generate suffering some type of phobia.

Solution to iatrophobia

Most patients go to a psychologist to treat their phobias, such as fear of flying. The solution to a phobia can have different origins that can trigger different treatments, so the same solution does not work for all phobias. That is why it is always better to put yourself in the hands of a professional .

On the other hand, there is the scientific evidence , which shows that to overcome a phobia, cognitive behavioral therapy is very good. This technique comes from relaxation and exposure techniques. A method that combines both techniques and that has become the best treatment for these pathologies called systematic desensitization is one of the most used in this field. This technique consists of gradually exposing the patient to the stimulus that is causing this phobia.

At present, other types of alternative treatments have advanced considerably , much more modern and with a most positive response to the cure of any phobia. It can be said that there are third generation therapies , among which cognitive therapy based on Mindfulness stands out (this means that they interrupt the thought patterns that lead to depressive or anxious states). It can also be treated with virtual reality , which has become a great support for psychologists and allows the patient to be exposed to that stimulus that produces that irrational fear. 

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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