1. Health

Real Phobia or Excuse?

By June 19, 2008

Follow me on:

In the strange but true category, a German court recently ruled against a woman who claimed that a phobia of official documents led to her lengthy delay in filing paperwork to demonstrate an ongoing need for child support. According to MSNBC, the woman claimed that she had a phobia of official letters, rendering her unable to respond in a timely manner.

Apparently the woman was notified in May 2007 that she would need to produce evidence that she still needed support for her daughter. When she did not respond by July, she was sent another letter stating that her support was cut off, but that she could appeal within one month.

In September, she finally responded with the requested documentation. Her appeal was thrown out for being too late, and the matter went to court. The woman protested on the grounds that her phobia prevented her from reading the official notices. However, the court ruled against her, stating that she was provided ample time to seek assistance from others.

So what do you think? Does she have a real phobia? If so, is it a legitimate reason for failing to respond to official letters? Or was she simply presenting an excuse for neglectful behavior? Thoughts and opinions are welcome!

Comments
November 13, 2008 at 6:58 am
(1) lisacasica says:

She would have to establish the onset of the phobia was prior to the time in question. 2nd. wether she had a professional diagnosis of this disorder and then, if so, what treatment, if any, was reccommended. 3)Whether she has prescribed meds in the past. If she establishes conclusively that she has a legitimate impairment she will have to show why she shouldn’t be held responsible for not developing a strategy like having her mail forwarded to someone she trusts or continuing a script of meds she knows will render her defensless over crucial communication.

November 13, 2008 at 6:58 am
(2) lisacasica says:

She would have to establish the onset of the phobia was prior to the time in question. 2nd. wether she had a professional diagnosis of this disorder and then, if so, what treatment, if any, was reccommended. 3)Whether she has prescribed meds in the past. If she establishes conclusively that she has a legitimate impairment she will have to show why she shouldn’t be held responsible for not developing a strategy like having her mail forwarded to someone she trusts or continuing a script of meds she knows will render her defensless over crucial communication.

December 14, 2009 at 10:38 pm
(3) bill derecki says:

I could well concur with the woman as paperwork petrifies me.It takes me weeks to get the nerve just to face the paperwork before me.when I get down to it everything becomes blank and requires super concentration to achieve a small amount and even then I can only do it in small bursts.It causes sleeplessness and increased bowel activity and the mind also feels faint.So take heart you are not alone. BD

May 24, 2010 at 4:05 am
(4) Sleepless in southampton says:

I have a similer problem and it’s causing me a lot of financial hardship, I find it almost impossible to fill out “official” documents or even read them through to find out what they are about,I have recieved parking fines and speeding tickets and tax returns all kinds of important paperwork and I have no one I trust in that way to do them for me, I don’t know what to do about it.

September 1, 2010 at 10:16 am
(5) neil london says:

I agree with Bill and Sleeples, I am in a very similar position myself.

October 4, 2010 at 8:54 am
(6) Mike says:

I thought I’d got over it when I filed a tax return (with zero income) ONTIME last year. Now they are telling me I owe them money because I didn’t file a return AT ALL.

I really have no idea where I put the printout I did.

I can’t understand how they can be demanding money when I didn’t earn anything and the thought of actually earning money and having to file on time just terrifies me (there’s no penalty for late filing if the penalty is more than the tax).

I was hoping for some kind of self-help site? Is there one?

October 16, 2012 at 3:45 am
(7) Jude says:

Wow. Looks like I’m not alone in this phobia. I have difficulties that range from simply not being able to look at the papers to see what they are about and not being able to fill them out to actually having a nearly uncontrollable urge to destroy them. I wonder what to do about it…

November 9, 2012 at 4:59 am
(8) Alison says:

I’m not sure how my phobia developed, but the worst things for me are; income tax, paying bills on time, and filling out forms to get reimbursements. The stupid thing is that my work takes enough money off that the government always owes me money. I was 3 years behind in my tax returns, so I paid someone to do them for me and now I am being audited by Revenue Canada and I have to prove that my kids live with me and I alone support them financially. I just freeze up and start shaking every time I think about it. I feel like I am literally paralyzed with fear! If someone knows a cure that helps diffuse the anxiety I am more than willing to learn about it.

January 7, 2013 at 4:22 pm
(9) ME says:

I seemed to develop more and more stress as my years go by. I remember when the writing phobia began, though. I was doing a research paper in grad school. My department head, professor had been instrumental in a downward spiral of self esteem. I think it is a form of performance anxiety. The “paperwork anxiety” I have is based on the same fear….will it be done correctly, or….I’m in such trouble!!! I have tried to go to my file drawer to find paperwork for overdue taxes since Jan 1….so much for my New Year’s resolution. I am now unemployed and have difficulty even filling out applications….there is no money for therapy……any books to suggest?

February 28, 2013 at 2:00 pm
(10) Me too says:

I don’t have any suggestions to help anyone else but i do want to let you know that you are not alone.

From 1990-95 I did not file for taxes, then I took all my painfully-semi-sorted receipts to an acct and they got me back on track. I nearly fainted before taking that first step into the office building where he officed. I thought that pain was enough to keep me on track and do things on time, but once again, my fears of dealing with the papers, receipts, tax forms, and seeing all the stupid mistakes and choices i had made with very hard-earned money, made me fall behind another 5 years again. I finally went to file bankruptcy & they said I had to file the last 3 years taxes to do that, so I took about 8 mos to sort through boxes & boxes of hoarder-type papers i didn’t want to face. I finally got it together enough to have a new accountant (I was too embarrassed to go to the past one) file my last 3 years taxes. I did a search just now to find out if this was indeed some sort of known or documented condition and found this posting.

I am sitting here in massive depression and very dark thoughts because I don’t think I can actually fill out the forms (40+ pages) of the actual bankruptcy worksheets. And this is the LAST step in this process! I am so tired of dealing with the pain of sorting and filling out papers and overall just feeling like an idiot when I am not normally like this is any other area of general life. I do have a hard time even invoicing my clients and dealing with time sheets to track jobs. The only way I can get paid is to do all of those things. I actually (even though I wouldn’t wish it on any one else EVER) am relieved to find I am not alone in this. So thank you each for sharing your own fears. Taking a break and come back to this damn form even if I have to do it one line at a time. I am so worn out from this being a dark cloud over my life. I normally WORK at keeping my head in positive thoughts even though I sound like a loony about this

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>
Top Related Searches
  • phobia
  • excuse
    1. About.com
    2. Health
    3. Phobias

    ©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

    We comply with the HONcode standard
    for trustworthy health
    information: verify here.