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Saturday, August 15, 2020

Theatrophobia: The Fear of Theaters

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Theatre generally, is a building, or the part of a place, an extension, or an opened area, used to house dramatic presentation, motion pictures, or stage entertainment.

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Over the years, people have often seen theatres as a place to go to for entertainment, infotainment, or education.

Even though the Theatre entertains people, some people still develop a phobia for the Theatre; this phobia is called Theathrophobia (Fear of the Theatre).

What Is Theatrophobia?

Theatrophobia is the fear of Theatre. The word originates from the Greek word “Theatron,” which means (the place for seeing) and “Phobia” (fear).

Theatrophobia has been defined by some professionals as an irrational fear of Theaters. People who have Theatrophobia finds it extremely difficult to be around a theatre, let alone be in one. 

Theotrophobia is said to stem from a mixture of various disorders like claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces) Agoraphobia (fear of crowded places). One can see how other fears can actually create a different phobia entirely.

Aside from closely related phobias, there are other factors too; these factors can easily make someone be classified as having Theatrophobia, which is genetics, and environmental factors.

Usually, people who have Theatrophobia consider themselves being in a large dark room, filled with too many people. The fact that the Theatre usually has a couple of distant existing exit door, this further improves their phobia and could lead to them having a full-blown panic attack.

Causes of Theatrophobia

Generally, phobias are said to arise from a combination of external factors (traumatic experience) and internal designs (heredity, and genetics). These phobias can be traced back to an event in one’s life. Some of the phobias have causes that are known, while the origin of many is yet to be identified.

Same with Theatrophobia, many had linked its source to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in late 1800, as he was shot in the back of his head in Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.

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It is easy to see how people can easily get phobias from being around a theatre. The Theatre is seen as a leisure place where people go, to have a fun time with family, or friends; had become a place one could get shot while having this alone time with one’s self or with someone else. This could trigger Theatrophobia.

Getting murdered in a theatre is not the only thing that makes people develop Theatrophobia. Some environmental and genetic make-up of an individual is said to have a considerable effect in an individual; these factors might be as a result of the phobia for very crowded places, phobia for dark areas, or phobia for confined areas. It is very easy for people with the above phobias to develop Theatrophobia.

If someone were to belong to a family, that has a history of phobia, it is quite easy for said individual to have Theatrophobia, e.g., you will find that it would be challenging for someone who witnessed the Lafayette shooting in 2015, ever to come close to a theatre, cause such event had triggered a phobia, that might be lying dormant, deep within their subconsciousness, or in their genetic make-up, another typical example could be the Aurora shooting in 2012, where a killer who had schizophrenia, opened fire at an audience watching a batman movie.

Symptoms of Theatrophobia

Anyone suffering from Theatrophobic disorder usually experiences an exceptional level of anxiety; this anxiety often originates from either being in a theatre or being near a theatre.

This phobia can be as a result of the fact that they could get shot at randomly by an unknown assailant, the mere thought of this, can trigger immense anxiety, increase in their heart rates, and could even lead to a panic attack.

Hence, they try their very best to avoid theatres. Aside from theatres, people show Theatrophobic symptoms in places that are closely related to a theatre.

Crowded places with dozens of people not known to them can spurn these symptoms, areas that have huge TV’s installed in them to enable people to view live sports game.

All these can cause people with Theatrophobia to start experiencing anxiety, or some form of shakiness, so they try their hardest to avoid such places that remind them of the experiences they have had.

Some of the common symptoms of Theathrophobia are listed below:

  • Anxiety when thinking of Theater
  • Irrational fear for theatres
  • Always avoiding theatres or places with same features as a theatre
  • Being unable to cope with the fear of everything that could go wrong in a theatre
  • Intense anxiety when in a theatre
  • Shakiness, Muscle tension, profuse sweats
  • All phobia could lead to panic attacks, and Thatrophobia is not an exemption

Treatments of Theatrophobia

Theatrophobia: The Fear of Theaters

Clinically, some article seeTheatrophobia, as a common phobia, though there isn’t a specific treatment for it, regardless, some countless ways or procedures have been claimed to treat this disorder.

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Some of these include; exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, DBT, and some psychiatric medications.


Taking anti-anxiety pills has been known to help reduce the intensity of some forms of Theatrophobia; the same goes for some antidepressant medications.

Though considering the medicine alone by its self might not yield a long-lasting positive effect, Doctors have advised that it’s best taken with some forms of therapy.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is a very common way of treating various forms of phobia.

Exposure therapy; its procedure is quite adequate, as people who have Theatrophobia, are gradually faced with theatres, but before they are exposed to the Theatre, they would first be made aware, or be made to imagine themselves in a theatre.

This mode of treatment is adopted by many mental disorder professionals to help treat phobias and anxiety.

In the course of treatment of Theatrophobia, the doctor might use some mediums like pictures of various theatres; after some time, he might also have to introduce said patients to some videos of people in a theatre.

This method is proposed to help disordered patients get over their fear for a particular thing, as the more they get exposed to what they are afraid of, the less scared they would be.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT

Like exposure therapy, CBT is also a conventional treatment for various disorders, which most times works for generalized anxiety disorder (GED) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Aside from these disorders, CBT is also said to be an excellent treatment for Theatrophobia. When a therapist asks questions like, anytime you a close to a theatre, why do you feel you a going to breakdown?

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Or why do you have an excessive urge always to avoid theatres in general, and what is it that makes you feel the way you think for theatres. This is a form of CBT, as it, in turn, helps the patient take a more pragmatic approach while thinking about their fear.

DBT for Theatrophobia

Another form of treatment of Theatrophobia is DBT; usually, it’s a treatment that’s meant for people with emotional regulation, i.e., used to treat people who have a borderline personality disorder.

But still, it has been seen as a great way of treating Theatrophobia, due to the level of coping skill one is expected to gain from DBT group therapy.

This treatment can last from five months to six months and can have from two to several people; it all depends on how many join the group.

Some methods of DBT includes;

  • Half smiling, in theory, the patient is asked to think of that which caused fear and anxiety, while slightly raising the corners of their mouth; basically, the patient is asked to smile while thinking of theatres
  • Mindfulness Meditation is also a form of DBT; this helps to take the patients out of their comfort zone and bring them to a place where they feel less comfortable and help them get through the discomfort.
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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.

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