Fear of the supernatural or bogiphobia

Many people experience fear of the supernatural, especially when hearing scary stories or after watching a horror movie. However, the experience of fear or anxiety can manifest itself in such an intense way that it causes significant discomfort.

In these cases we speak of bogiphobia, which implies a series of responses and behaviors that can have negative consequences on the healthy development and functioning of the person. What this type of phobia consists of, some possible causes and how to treat it is explained in detail below.

What does bogiphobia mean?

The etymological meaning of the word bogiphobia comes from the conjunction of the Greek term: φοβία (‘phobía’), which means ‘fear’, and from the Anglo-Saxon word bogeyman, whose translation into Spanish is ‘bogeyman’, an equivalent to the fictional character called ‘the coconut’.

The bogeyman or coconut is often referred to to scare children, telling them or threatening them that he will take them if they do not behave or if they do not eat all their food. In this way, the term indicates the irrational fear of this imaginary figure. However, this word also it encompasses the fears of other supernatural entities, such as ghosts, monsters, or demons.

Fear of the supernatural is associated, in this case, with the character that is used to scare children.

Fear and phobia

Although bogiphobia is the fear of the supernatural, it is important to emphasize that, as it is a phobia, the psychic and somatic manifestations are more intense than the common fear responses. They can even be disabling.

In other words, there is a gradual difference between the experience of fear and that of phobia. The first is considered a normal and adaptive response to exposure to real hazards. A set of sensations are set in motion that, in general, promote flight or defense responses.

However, when these sensations occur in situations that do not pose a real threat, then the fear is no longer adaptive, but phobic. Further, the subjective experience of the phobia is more intense for the subject who experiences them and encourages avoidance responses.

Also read: We tell you which are the most common phobias in the world

Manifestations of bogiphobia

Like all specific phobia, bogiphobia triggers a pattern of physiological, psychic and motor reactions before the exposure or anticipation of the feared stimulus or situation. These answers are as follows.

Physiological reactions

There are individual differences in the somatic experience of fear, that is, we do not all experience it in the same way. Although among the most common are the following:

  • Increased heart rate.

Psychic reactions

These involve the beliefs and thoughts that the person presents in the threatening situation. Usually she thinks she is about to die or that she will be hurt. Also, fear and intense anxiety can turn into a crisis or panic attack.

Also, these reactions include the interpretations of the physiological reactions themselves. For example, it is common to believe that increased heart rate is an indicator of an ongoing heart attack.

Motor reactions

The most common motor response is to leave the situation it causes fear and do everything you can to avoid it in the future. In the case of children, anxiety and fear are expressed by crying, tantrums, becoming paralyzed or clinging to their parents or caregivers.

Why do some people develop a fear of the supernatural?

Bogiphobia is a condition that usually develops in childhoodTherefore, the individuals who experience it are mostly children. It is common for infants to fear imagined or dreamed creatures, such as monsters or ghosts.

This fear tends to intensify between 2 and 6 years, however, it has been observed that between 5 and 12 years there is a tendency to report that imaginary or supernatural creatures are the main causes of fear. This does not exclude the possibility that bogiphobia may develop or perpetuate in adulthood.

That said, hypotheses have been developed that seek to explain the reason for the fear of the supernatural. Those presented below are not the only ones, since there may be multiple underlying causes and will depend on individual circumstances.

Children's imagination

Although children, from a very early age (from 3 years old), can make the distinction between mental and real phenomena, are prone to believe that what they imagine or dream can become reality. In this way, the mere fact of believing that a very terrifying and threatening entity can become real is enough cause to experience fear and anxiety.

These fears are usually triggered by horror stories or movies, however, it is the child's imagination that triggers the irrational beliefs that turn into intense fears.

Discover: Anxiety in Children: When Should I Worry?

Cultural and social beliefs

The beliefs of the context in which the child socializes will significantly influence the ideas that the child forms about supernatural entities. If the culture in which you grow up has beliefs regarding the existence of evil supernatural entities, then you are more prone to developing this type of phobia.

Punitive parenting styles

Cases have been identified in which the malevolent beliefs of the supernatural world are related to punitive parenting styles, that is, that a childhood characterized by difficult and painful experiences will produce an adult personality that believes that supernatural entities inflict harm to human beings.

That said, these types of malevolent beliefs are to be expected to arouse fear, especially in adults.

Psychological therapy is the tool to address specific phobias.

How to deal with the fear of the supernatural?

According to the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), specific phobias are framed within anxiety disorders. This condition can be aggravated to the point of causing significant discomfort in the person who suffers from it, affecting the proper functioning of the person.

Thus, the best approach to bogiphobia is psychological therapy. Currently there are a series of effective treatments that can help the person overcome irrational fears.

Fear is complex

Phobic fear is a type of anxiety disorder that can be disabling. The best way to treat it is through psychological therapy.

Some of the possible causes of bogiphobia have already been presented, but they do not cover the complexity of the phenomenon. Irrational fear of the supernatural can be due to multiple origins that differ depending on the personal constitution and experiences of the individual.

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