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Pselismophobia (fear of stuttering): symptoms, causes and treatment

Pselismophobia (fear of stuttering): symptoms, causes and treatment

July 23, 2024

Pselismophobia is the intense and persistent fear to stutter . It is a fear that often aggravates and prolongs the stutter itself. It is also a fear related to social phobias.

Next we will see what psellismofobia is, what are some of its main characteristics and causes, as well as the most common treatment of social phobias.

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Pselismphobia: fear of stuttering

The word "psellismofobia" or "pselismofobia" is composed of the term "psellismo" which means "stuttering" and "fobos" which means "fear". In this sense, pselismofobia is the persistent and irrational fear of stuttering (to the disorder of the flow of speech). Is about a phobia related to different fears to engage in verbal interactions , such as glossophobia, lalilophobia or lalofobia.

Therefore, pselismofobia is often considered a type of social phobia or, a characteristic of the latter. Social phobia, on the other hand, is characterized by an intense, persistent and excessive fear before or more social situations, as well as the obligation to perform actions in front of others.

The above can happen to people known or unknown, but fear is not people or interaction itself, but humiliation, discomfort and the possibility of being compared or evaluated.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Social phobia: what is it and how to overcome it?"

Main symptoms

In social phobia, the most common feared situations are public speaking, initiating or holding conversations with new people, speaking with figures of authority, being interviewed and going to parties. Exposure to these generates anxiety and its corresponding physiological correlate: sweating, increased heart rate, hyperventilation , decreased gastrointestinal activity, etc., and sometimes panic attacks.

Other of the most frequent manifestations are dry mouth, nervous contractions and flushing. Often these responses are generated in an anticipatory manner, that is, before exposure to social interactions. Likewise, these responses are a consequence of the activity of different systems such as the autonomic nervous system, the cognitive system and the behavioral system.

To counteract the anxiety response, the person generates different behaviors of avoidance to social interaction . The latter ends up having a significant and negative impact on their daily activities. In fact it is this last criterion (the discomfort that interferes markedly in the person's life), the one that makes the difference between a social phobia and a social anxiety (also called shyness).

When it comes to adults, the intensity and disproportion of fear are easily recognized, but when it occurs in children this recognition does not occur.

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Social phobias tend to develop in adolescence (frequently around 15 years old). The latter can be linked precisely to this stage of development, where situations that involve an external evaluation significantly increase. This is in addition to the demands generated by new environments and the need to establish certain roles in a social system beyond the family.

In addition, social phobias occur more frequently among women, which may be related to Western values ​​where shyness is incompatible with the male role, but is socially accepted in the female. On the other hand, it is more common that they occur in people of lower socioeconomic status, an issue that may indicate discomforts related to hierarchies and unequal power relations (Bados, 2009).

In the specific case of pselismophobia it is important to consider that one's own fear of stuttering is one of the main causes of stuttering persisting . As such, it can trigger a constant avoidance of talking and interacting with other people, especially if it involves the situations described above.

In this sense, beyond being a particular phobia, pselismophobia is, on the one hand, one of the causes of stuttering, and on the other, it is one of the manifestations of social phobia. Thus, to know the specific causes of fear of stuttering, it is necessary to explore the persistent fear of wider social situations.


Among the most used treatments for social phobias is the live exhibition in the natural environment, the exhibition by imagination , social skills training, cognitive restructuring, self-instructional training, applied relaxation techniques, virtual reality and simulation (Bados, 2009).

Likewise, stress reduction techniques of the cognitive behavioral model have recently been used as educational support therapy with explanations, demonstrations and discussions about the determinants of phobia. Regarding maintenance program group therapy approaches have also been carried out , once the anxiety before the social interaction has diminished (ibid.).

Finally, and considering the prevalence, it may be important to explore and work on empowerment from the critique of gender values ​​and socioeconomic inequalities, so that social interactions can flow with greater security and assertiveness.

Bibliographic references:

  • Bados, A. (2009). Social phobia. Faculty of Psychology Departament de Personalitat, Avaluació i Tractament Psicològics. University of Barcelona. Retrieved September 27, 2018. Available at //
  • Psellismophobia. Retrieved September 27, 2018. Available at //
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