Placophobia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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The first thing to consider is what placophobia is. Placophobia is an irrational fear of tombstones or cemeteries.

Placophobia is the irrational fear of tombstones. Someone suffering from this condition can expect to experience a very high amount of anxiety from merely thinking of tombstones, let alone seeing them in real life.

Someone experiencing a full-blown panic attack as a result of their placophobia can expect to have an increased heart rate, an increased rate of breathing, higher blood pressure, muscle tension, trembling, and excessive sweating, among several other symptoms.

Someone suffering from placophobia may find themselves avoiding what they fear. Although panic attacks may not always be the case for everyone experiencing symptoms of placophobia, it is still possible to occur, especially if their symptoms are very severe.

They may take this to the extreme by ensuring that they are not exposed to tombstones in any way.

Even if it means them having to take a longer route to get to where they need to go, such excessive worry and irrational thinking are likely to be one of the main causes of their mental anguish.

Someone with a placophobia condition may actively avoid their fear in an attempt to help them reduce their chances of experiencing any immediate anxiety.

Doing so may also worsen their symptoms of placophobia in the long term because they would also be justifying their fear to themselves by actively avoiding it.

I would like to elaborate on this topic, as I would like to discuss more on the symptoms, causes, and treatment of placophobia.

Symptoms of placophobia


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These are the commonly listed symptoms of placophobia.

  • Anxiety when thinking of tombstones
  • Constantly avoiding tombstones
  • Unable to cope with their anxiety
  • Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
  • May experience panic attacks

Someone with placophobia can expect anxiety to be the most prominent symptom of their condition. Also, as previously mentioned, their anxiety may be so extreme that they may even endure full-blown panic attacks as a result of it.

Depending on the severity of their panic attack, they may even need to be hospitalized. However, this will vary from person to person and will be dependent on many factors.

Someone with placophobia may go to painstaking efforts to ensure that they do not come into contact with their fear in any way.

This may mean not only avoiding areas where they may come into contact with their fear but also that they may actively try to prevent it from happening by taking a more hands-on approach.

Causes Of Placophobia

If someone has a family history of mental illness, especially anxiety disorders or specific phobias, then they may have a higher chance of developing placophobia.

This may be due to them having a genetic predisposition to developing mental illness in general.

There are no definitive causes of placophobia. Nevertheless, genetics and one’s environment may both play very significant roles in the development of this condition.

Any sort of emotionally painful event that involved the various fears associated with placophobia in some way may be enough for someone to develop this condition insofar as they have the proper genetics.

If someone were to have such genetics, then it may only require that they experience some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full-blown placophobia.

Scientifically,  no one knows the exact causes of placophobia, the consensus among most mental health professionals is that both genetics and environmental factors play very significant roles in the development of any given mental disorder.

So, taking a closer look at these two different parameters may shed some light as to whether or not you may be at risk for developing placophobia.

Treatment of placophobia

Just as there are no definitive causes of placophobia, there are also no treatments that are specifically designed for this condition either.

Nevertheless, there are still many different forms of treatment that can help to significantly improve many of the symptoms of placophobia.

Some of these treatments include exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and some psychiatric medications, among others.

1. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Placophobia

DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder.

Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like placophobia too.

This is due to the numerous coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.

One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with placophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.”

Although it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.

Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with placophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone.


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These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.

Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with placophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction.

Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it.

Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your placophobia when you are exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.

2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Placophobia

CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD.

Someone with placophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well, seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do about their irrational fears.

CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with placophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with placophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear.

Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.

Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with placophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition

3. Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is one of the most common forms of treatment for people suffering from phobias. Exposure therapy works by having the therapist gradually expose the patient to their fear over a given period.

With regards to placophobia, the therapist may start by exposing the patient to photos of a tombstone and then eventually expose them to videos of a tombstone, among other things.

This would all be in an attempt to help desensitize the patient to their fear by repetitively exposing them to it. Theoretically, the more someone is exposed to something they fear, the less it will bother them over time.


Phobias are objects, places, situations, feelings, or animals that invoke intense and crippling feelings of fear and anxiety.

Unlike typical fear, phobic fear is always irrational and out of proportion to the danger posed by the stimulus, and it is not adaptive.

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