Anthropophobia is an often temporary social phobia that commonly affects adolescents. It is distinguished from misanthropy by its moral and philosophical side, which is not a phobia.
It’s defined as a “fear of people” and is common among 13-18 year olds, for whom the slightest social contact can quickly seem insurmountable. The symptoms of anthropophobia include great timidity, withdrawal and anxiety related to childhood trauma or humiliation. To overcome this, hypnosis or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) can be effective, especially when the source of the phobia is a trauma. A psychoanalytic approach can also help anthropophobes to understand where this phobia comes from.
Anthropophobia or Misanthropy?
Although both terms are often associated, there is a significant difference between anthropophobia and misanthropy. The latter is often a moral and almost philosophical position of hatred or distrust of humanity. One cannot therefore refer to misanthropy as a phobia in the strict sense of the term.
Possible Sources of People’s Fear
Anthropophobia is common among adolescents. Between the ages of 13 and 18, it’s not uncommon to meet adolescents who are extremely introverted, and for whom social contact is an insurmountable ordeal. This can seriously impact academic performance if the anthropophobe is hesitant to attend classes or to be in contact with other students.
Other sources of anthropophobia can be traumatic situations experienced in childhood, which result in strong feelings of humiliation by a specific group.
Physical, Psychic and Behavioral Consequences
The consequences of this phobia are an exacerbated shyness that often leads to isolation and withdrawal. On the physical level, anthropophobes suffer from permanent anxiety which increases in the presence of others. It can also be associated with frequent vertigo, eye disorders and a tendency to suffer from spasmophilia attacks.
Possible Treatments for Anthropophobia
Cognitive-behavioral approaches can be helpful, including Ericksonian hypnosis and Natural Language Processing (NLP). In case of known trauma, EMDR is a reliable method of treatment for Anthropophobia.
Psychoanalysis will help to determine the source of the phobia, and give the anthropophobe self-help therapies and techniques to be better able to face the world.
The writer Jules Renard, famous for his sour humor towards the human race. Another is the comedian Christopher Lee, famous for having played Dracula in the sixties, who was once quoted as saying he preferred to sleep in a coffin to escape contact with his peers.
The philosopher Sebastien-Roch-Nicolas de Chamfort (1741-1794), better known under the name of Chamfort, developed works made of many scathing aphorisms inspired by his own struggles with anthropophobia.