What is Cleithrophobia?



Cleithrophobia is a medical condition in which the patient fears being trapped, unable to leave, or being locked in. This is a psychological condition, and the fear that the patient goes through is entirely irrational. 

Cleithrophobia seems somewhat similar to another medical condition known as claustrophobia. But there is a difference between cleithrophobia and claustrophobia. In cleithrophobia, the person feels unable to come out of a confined area that is not that small or congested. Still, a feeling of fear of being trapped in a comparatively small space is there in the case of claustrophobia.

Cleithrophobia refers to a psychological condition where the person feels trapped, and the feeling is not specific to space. However, the sense of fear in small spaces is more prevalent in patients suffering from claustrophobia. The word “Cleithrophobia” is derived from Greek, in which “Cleithro” means close or to shut and “Phobia” means fear.

Claustrophobia and Cleithrophobia 

Phobia is a condition that occurs when an individual experiences some fear or anxiety in response to a situation. This phobia is not in proportion with any actual threat of the problem. Instead, it results in acute physical anxiety and panic attacks in individuals. Despite being aware of the excessive fear, people face who have either cleithrophobia or claustrophobia, this awareness of the fear does not diminish their phobia experience.

Some of the common symptoms presented by individuals having phobias include:

  • Panic attacks,
  • Sweating,
  • Anxiety,
  • Dry mouth,
  • Chest pain or Angina pectoris,
  • Difficulty in breathing,
  • Rapid breathing,
  • Tachycardia,
  • Feeling of tightness in the chest,
  • Dizziness, and
  • Disorientation. 

The above-listed symptoms of panic attacks and anxiety occur when there is a fear-creating stimulus. These symptoms may also be seen if the patient anticipates that he is going o receive a fear-creating stimulation which can lead to a phobia. For example, if a person has a phobia of height, he would experience anxiety when he gets at a specific size, like flying on an airplane. In this case, he might face fear when he is booking his flight tickets or the night before the scheduled flight, the morning he will take the flight, and so on. These anxiety and panic attacks symptoms may worsen as the person gets closer to the flight or any similar condition.

Phobias can be of various forms. There are five groups of phobias. These are:

  • Related to animals,
  • Related to the natural environment,
  • Related to blood-injection-injury,
  • Related to situations.

These categories are general, and many variations can be included in these. Examples of these include the fact that phobias related to spiders, dogs, or snakes can be included under the animal subtype of phobias.

Cleithrophobia, or the fear of being trapped or confined in spaces, is amongst the commonly known phobias and is distinct from the very widely known claustrophobia. 

This kind of phobia falls under the situational category of phobias since cleithrophobia is related to situations. In cleithrophobia, the patient feels confined to a space and as if he is closed up. Some conditions that can trigger the phobia generally include planes, crowded areas, elevators, MRI machines, windowless rooms, etc. 

Although cleithrophobia requires the same diagnosis process as claustrophobia, there is a significant difference between the two conditions. The fear in cleithrophobia is less concerned with the size of the space available and is more about the feeling of being unable to leave a room. For example, if a person is inside a closet, he might get claustrophobic and feel anxious, while a person with cleithrophobia will only feel distressed if the closet door was locked. Otherwise, if the closet is not locked and is left open, they are less likely to experience anxiety.

Treatment Options for Cleithrophobia

The treatment plans for cleithrophobia run on a similar pattern as that of claustrophobia despite having considerable differences between the two conditions. 

Before giving any medication to the person suffering from cleithrophobia, he is generally first encouraged to psychotherapy. Various researches are done on the effects of psychotherapy in people suffering from cleithrophobia, thus making it a more reliant treatment approach. 

However, there has not been any direct comparison between medication and therapy as trials of drugs alone have given mixed results and have not shown any specific prognosis in patients suffering from cleithrophobia.

One of the most effective and widely accepted treatment approaches for treating patients with cleithrophobia includes cognitive-behavioral therapy with relevant exposure. In the therapeutic process of treatment for cleithrophobia or any such phobia is exposure. 

This means exposing the person suffering from such a condition to his fears, making him face his fears. In behavioral research, this technique of exposure has been used for decades. According to this approach, when a person with a specific phobia faces his fear or, in other words, he is exposed repeatedly to a feared stimulus, he can effectively manage his anxiety which can help him eliminate his fear response and, in turn, phobia.

Though this approach can be a bit difficult to execute as it can be scary for the patients to face their fears, it is the psychotherapist’s job to convince his patient and make him believe in the treatment process. A therapist can do so by educating his patient, introducing the concept behind the treatment approach, practicing multiple coping skills, and gradual progression in the treatment by exposing the patient to activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there any cure for Cleithrophobia?

Yes, cleithrophobia can be cured by psychotherapy in which the treatment approach is towards exposing the patient to his or her fears. This exposure to a person’s fear is called desensitization.

Is cleithrophobia a type of mental illness?

Cleithrophobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which the patient feels trapped in space or feels unable to get out of somewhere.

What is Cleithrophobia?

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