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What Is the Fear of Hospitals?

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Updated September 28, 2012

Question: What Is the Fear of Hospitals?

Nosocomephobia, or the fear of hospitals, is a surprisingly common medical phobia. While many people who have this fear are also afraid of doctors, nosocomephobia can also occur alone. Some people are afraid of the building itself, others of what it represents. Still others fear the loss of control.

Answer:

Legends and Lore

Hospitals, especially older buildings, figure prominently in numerous ghost stories and urban legends. Hospitals are, by nature, places that witness suffering and death as well as healing and hope. Hospital-related phobias are sometimes related to the fear of death or the fear of the supernatural.

Medical Phobias

Hospitals are, by definition, places that people go when they are very ill or injured. Although modern hospitals are very clean, they can be nerve-wracking for those who suffer from germ phobias. Likewise, blood and other bodily fluids are cleaned up as quickly as possible, but it is entirely possible that someone staying in or visiting the hospital will see or smell them. Those with hypochondriasis or nosophobia may fear coming down with an illness at the hospital, while those with claustrophobia, needle phobia or the fear of sharp objects might be afraid of medical procedures. Some people are afraid of doctors and other medical personnel.

Source:

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

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