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Masks and Costumes Phobias

Maskaphobia, or fear of masks, is surprisingly common. In children it is important to note that this fear is often a part of normal childhood development. Therefore, like most phobias, it is not diagnosed in children unless it persists for six months or longer.

Causes of Maskaphobia -

Maskaphobia is believed to be related to automatonophobia, or fear of humanoid figures. A precise cause has not been determined. Nonetheless, a common theory states that these phobias may be rooted in our expectations of human appearance and behaviour.

Masks distort the wearer’s appearance, causing him/her to look strange and unusual. Most masks do not feature moving mouths, so when the wearer speaks, the sound appears to come out of nowhere.

Wearing a mask may also change the wearer’s behaviour. Many people wear masks as part of becoming a character, causing the wearer to act in accordance with that character. Additionally, some people love the freedom that a mask’s anonymity provides. The wearer might behave in socially unacceptable ways while hidden behind the mask.

Symptoms of Maskaphobia -

Maskaphobia is extremely individualized. Some people fear only horror masks or religious masks. Some people have a more generalized phobia that might even extend beyond masks to costumed characters as well. Clown phobia may also be related to maskaphobia.

Common symptoms include, but are not limited to, sweating, shaking, crying and heart palpitations. You might have a panic attack. You might try to run away or even hide from the person in the mask.

Complications of Maskaphobia -

Masks are extremely common in today’s world. From carnivals to theme parks, movies to retail grand openings, costumed characters can be found almost everywhere. Many of these characters wear masks, which are much cheaper and easier than complicated makeup.

If your maskaphobia is severe, you might attempt to avoid situations that could involve masks. But since masks are so common, this could start to become all-consuming. Eventually, some people with maskaphobia become isolated or agoraphobic, afraid to venture into unfamiliar settings.

Treating Maskaphobia -

Fortunately, there is help. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is particularly common and effective. You will be taught to explore your feelings about masks, and replace negative messages with more positive self-talk. You might be gradually exposed to different types of masks through a process known as systematic desensitization.

Masklophobia is similar, and is the fear of masks or mascots.

There is no specific name for the fear of costumes, but the closest is Coulrophobia which is actually the fear of clowns. The causes, symptoms and treatments for coulrophobia are as already discussed.

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