The Fear of Large Objects | Megalophobia 101

Learn how people are affected by megalophobia and how it is treated

Ferry Moored in a Sea Lock at Immingham Port, Humberside, UK
Monty Rakusen/Getty Images

Megalophobia is the fear of large objects. The object in question can run the gamut from large ships, like aircraft carriers, to airplanes to blimps. If you suffer from megalophobia, you may only be afraid of life-like large objects, like large animals, such as whales or elephants, or even stationary large objects such as sculptures and statues, or even a large tree such as a sequoia, redwood or cypress tree.

Some have both megalophbia and another phobia such as herpetophobia or fear of reptiles, in which a person would be scared of a large snakes or alligators. Other combined cases of megalophobia can be associated with the fear of the ocean or sea creatures known as thalassophobia. Having these phobias can greatly limit your social interactions, so it's imperative that you understand your phobia and get the help you need to overcome it. Here is a look at the reality behind the illusion.

The Phobia

This phobia of large objects is usually associated with objects that are larger than the actual object they are representing, such as the statues or sculptures I mentioned. Fear of gigantic animals, particularly the giant squid, has been a part of mythology and lore since the earliest days of sailing ships. Legends abound of sailors who were lost to the monsters of the deep. Of course, it is likely that in the days before modern navigational systems, many of those ships were simply run aground or dashed against the rocks.

Still, the rumors persisted, though many believed that the giant squid was just a myth. The first photos of a live giant squid were finally obtained in 2004. In the 1950s, comic books and science fiction were huge trends, particularly among teenage boys. It is easy to imagine how an obsession with the giant squid could develop into a full-blown phobia.

Even today, phobias of giant “killer” animals persist and are exploited in such films as Jaws and Anaconda.

The Treatment

While Freudian psychoanalysis and behaviorism were strong in the 50s, humanism was beginning to take hold during that time. Experimental treatments were not as heavily regulated as they are today, and many psychologists believed that experimentation was necessary in order to further the body of research and knowledge surrounding phobias. Today, of course, treatment is highly regulated and tends to fall into one of a few recognized categories. The most common is cognitive behavioral therapy, in which the client is encouraged to replace phobic thoughts with more rational ones. A psychologist would literally walk someone through what they fear about large objects and help them rationalize why that fear may be unfounded and work them through more realistic scenarios that will help them talk themselves out of the unrealistic origins of their fears. Flooding and systematic desensitization, in which the client is exposed to the feared object, are often used as well but at no time is the client placed in any danger.

If you have a phobia of large objects or animals, it is important to seek treatment right away. With proper treatment, most phobias can be cured or managed, but over time, untreated phobias tend to worsen. See your doctor or mental health professional to develop a personalized treatment plan.

Source:

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

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