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Fear of eating (cyborphobia): causes, symptoms and treatment

Fear of eating (cyborphobia): causes, symptoms and treatment

April 2, 2024

There are many types of phobias; these disorders are characterized by an irrational fear and persistent in front of situations, objects, activities or people.

The main symptom of this disorder is the desire to avoid the feared stimulus, and the development of phobias usually occurs due to environmental factors. Now, some experts claim that our body is programmed to feel fear , because it is an adaptive emotion, which has been useful to the human species for centuries, so it would be relatively easy to suffer this condition.

Irrational fears can be very disabling, as in the case of cyborphobia or fear of eating , which can cause serious problems for the health of the person. In this article we will discuss this strange phobia and will delve into its causes, symptoms and treatment.


  • Related article: "Types of phobias: exploring the disorders of fear"

What is cybophobia?

Cybophobia is an anxiety disorder that causes a great fear and discomfort to the person who suffers it, because this one experiences a great irrational fear to eat or to the own foods.

This disorder must be differentiated from other pathological conditions such as anorexia or bulimia , which have their origin in the ideas that the person has about the aesthetic consequences of food intake, although sometimes it may be linked to them. However, the irrational fear of having a negative body image when feeding as thinking that food may contain toxins or germs may contribute to the development of cyborphobia.


Some characteristics of this disorder are:

  • People with cyborophobia they show an irrational obsession towards food , which can lead them to become obsessed with the nutrients they contain and their origin.
  • They can avoid the consumption of food despite being necessary to enjoy good health.
  • They avoid dishes cooked by other individuals, because they need to know exactly what they eat or how the dish has been cooked.
  • They avoid eating food prepared in previous days by the fear of intoxication .

Symptoms of this phobic disorder

As you can see, the person who suffers from this pathology tends to avoid food because of their irrational ideas about it, and although in many cases they show knowledge about their problem, they can not control that situation.

The symptoms of cyborophobia do not differ from other phobic disorders , because the symptomatology is characterized by cognitive, behavioral, physical and physiological consequences.


On a cognitive level, the person has irrational ideas of fear, suffers from anxiety, loss of concentration, disorientation and extreme worry . Their behavior also changes, mainly avoiding the phobic stimulus.

The physical and physiological symptoms are characterized by tachycardia, tightness in the chest, excessive sweating, dizziness, tremors, chills.

  • In severe cases, the person may experience panic attacks. You can read more about this condition in this article: "Panic attacks: causes, symptoms and treatment".

Causes of phobias

Phobias often originate from environmental factors . In fact, phobic disorders are learned and developed by a type of associative learning called classical conditioning. This type of learning was initially studied by Ivan Pavlov, although popularized by an American psychologist who is known as one of the precursors of behaviorism, John Watson.

Watson was the first researcher who studied this phenomenon and got a young child to learn an irrational fear of a white rat that he once adored. At the beginning of the experiment, the boy, named Albert, played quietly and enjoyed the company of the white rat.

However, in the Watson experiment, every time the white rat showed up, there was also a loud noise that scared the little one. A few sessions, little Albert associated the loud noise to the presence of the white rat, and therefore, each time the white rat appeared alone Albert felt a strong irrational fear that had nothing to do with the harmless creature.

  • If you want to deepen the learning by classical conditioning. You can read this article: "Classical conditioning and its most important experiments".

Other causes of this disorder

However, Classical conditioning is not the only way a phobia can develop , and cyborophobia can appear through observation learning. In fact, some authors speak of vicarious conditioning as one of the possible ways to acquire irrational fears.If you want to know more about this concept, you can read this article: "Vicar conditioning: how does this type of learning work?"

On the other hand, other authors think that people are biologically predisposed to fear, because it is an emotion that occurs thanks to the primitive brain because it has been very useful for our survival. The learning of fear it is produced by primary and non-cognitive associations , so phobias do not respond to logical arguments.

Treatment of cyborophobia

Scientific studies show that psychotherapy is really effective in the treatment of phobias , and one of the types of psychological therapy that has given the best results in research is cognitive behavioral therapy.

This form of therapy combines techniques of cognitive therapy and behavior therapy, and some of the most used for the treatment of phobias are the techniques of relaxation and exposure techniques . In fact, the technique par excellence in the treatment of phobias is cognitive desensitization, which combines both.

Systematic desensitization consists of teaching the patient different coping skills (for example, relaxation techniques) for when you are in the feared situation, and you are exposed to the phobic stimulus gradually so that you experience the irrationality of your fear yourself.

On the other hand, and The pharmacological treatment is indicated in serious cases , but always in combination with psychological therapy.

Other types of therapy used to treat this condition are: cognitive therapy based on Mindfulness, acceptance and commitment therapy or hypnotherapy.

Related Posts:

  • Cognitive Therapy based on Mindfulness: what is it?
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): principles and characteristics
  • Hypnotherapy: what it is and what are its benefits

Fear of Food or "Food Neophobia" | Nightline | ABC News (April 2024).


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