Warning: If you suffer from the fear of long words, this article contains triggers, which you may wish to avoid.
What is the Word for the Fear of Long Words?
Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is what is the word for fear of long words. The other word for fear of long words is sesquipedalophobia. Sesquipedalophobia has its etymology derived from the Latin sesquipedalis, which means a foot and one-half long and phobia, which means fear.
According to Wikipedia, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is the largest word from the English language found in the Oxford English Dictionary. It is a lung disease caused by inhaling fine dust or sand particles. Most people use the more common term of silicosis to refer to this disease.
According to the Huffington Post, the world’s largest word is the scientific name for “Tintin” a large protein. Dmitry Golubovskiy made a video of him saying the name. It took him 213 minutes to pronounce the word with 189,819 letters.
As with all phobias, a fear of long words is an irrational fear. This does not make it any easier to live with, than any other irrational fear, such as fear of heights, fear of open spaces, fear of spiders etc. The Mayo Clinic describes a phobia as fear that is not reasonable, yet overwhelms the sufferer causing them to become anxious and seek to avoid the stimulus causing the fear. There seems to be a phobia for almost everything. A huge phobia list has hundreds of entries in alphabetical order.
The fear of really long words in no more strange than arachibutyrophobia, which is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth. Having nearly choked to death on a peanut butter sandwich, as a young child, is the cause for that one.
The word for the fear of long words relates to the fear of books bibliophobia. People who have this fear of long words phobia probably suffered some childhood trauma related to long words. It could be they had a bad experience in a spelling bee contest, or were embarrassed in front of the class when asked to read a word they did not understand or were unable to pronounce. A traumatic event, such as this is enough to start the development of a phobia.
Some phobias are long-lasting and cause many problems, which interfere with a good quality of life. Many with phobias are able to manage by trying to make sure they avoid anything that triggers the fear. Therefore, a person with a fear of long word pronunciation or spelling would not even be able to read what the word for fear of long words is. It is better for them to describe their conditions using the smaller simpler words and call it the fear of long words.
To other people this fear of long words may seem silly. In the movie, Mary Poppins, she sings about a ridiculously long word, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” The two Sherman brothers who wrote the lyrics for the song made up this nonsense word. In the film, it was supposed to be a word to say when a person cannot think of anything to say. In 1986, it found its way into the Oxford English Dictionary.
The fear of long words is in the class of social phobias, which comes about because of the fear of judgment by others or being humiliated in social settings. Similar phobias include fear of public speaking, excessive shyness, or self-consciousness. The Mayo Clinic says that social phobias normally show up in childhood before the child is a teenager. In addition, if a family member has a phobia, the children are more likely to develop the same phobia.
Common Reactions to Phobias
The most common reaction is a panic or anxiety attack when the fear response is stimulated. The panic causes a physical reaction, which includes such things as racing heartbeats, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, and a psychological reaction of feeling powerless, while at the same time wanting to do anything possible to reduce the fear.
Things called “triggers” stimulate the fear reaction. Sometimes, simply thinking about what causes the fear is enough to trigger a reaction.
People who have phobias that are strong enough to adversely affect the quality of their lives may suffer isolation from other people. They may also feel depression, abuse substances (due to the overwhelming anxiety), and in extreme cases commit suicide. It does not help that others think a phobia is silly. Even when the person who has the phobia realizes it is not reasonable, this does not make the fear go away by itself.
Fear versus Phobias
According to Help Guide, there is a difference between having normal fear and having a phobia. The example they give is the difference between confronting a vicious attack dog, and seeing a calm tiny dog on a leash in the park. It is natural to feel fear or nervousness when seeing an attack dog, but it is a phobia when the fear of all dogs keeps a person from going to the park.
The key to understanding the difference is to use the test of the negative impact of a phobia on a person’s life. If a person forges a great job, because they must ride up in a building elevator, this is another example of a phobia, where the person should seek treatment to get help.
With the fear of long words, a person with this phobia might never read a book or a newspaper, or avoid going outside for fearing of seeing words used in advertisements. They might not be able to attend college or get a good job. What seems silly to others may be completely devastating to them and ruin their lives.
Treatment for Phobias
Both seeking professional help in the form of counseling from a mental health professional combined with self-health methods is appropriate. Self-help is worth the effort, because part of the successful treatment of phobias is convincing the person they have more control over the situation than they first feel when they go into a panic. De-sensitivity reprogramming is very successful and many people respond to the treatment very quickly.
An example of this would be for a person with intense fear of dogs, to hold a soft cuddly puppy in order to get used the idea gradually that not all dogs are harmful. For the fear of long words, it could be reading, saying, or spelling words of increasing length.
Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) is a technique, effectively used to remove phobias, sometimes in a single session. NLP techniques focus on creating change. The key element is dissociation. Successful NLP helps the person completely disconnect from the emotional responses.
The foundation thought of NLP is a person’s beliefs and assumptions create a mental map of the world, but this is only a mental image and not reality itself. Holding false beliefs creates a pattern of stress reactions to certain stimuli, which repeat so many times that they feel unchangeable. Nevertheless, exactly the opposite is true. Once a person understands how they create feelings and inner thoughts, they can change them to other ones, which are more useful.
A skilled NLP practitioner guides a person by distracting the conscious mind to make contact with the unconscious mind and is able to remap to mental image of the world to remove less useful distortions. The procedure works by helping the person attain a calm state and use their imagination in a guided way to go back in time to right before the phobia first began. A common technique is for the person to imagine they are watching a movie of the event. A basic phobia treatment procedure using this modality, is described by NLP-mentor in detail. These NLP procedures have a very good success record and are very effective in reducing and eliminating phobias of all kinds.
The therapist brings up the phobia on purpose, to trigger a slight response. Then the NLP technique replaces the distortion. After a successful session, the person practices with the therapist by running the imaginary movie forwards and backwards. This continues until there is no longer any emotional response to the phobia trigger at all. This is the “rewind” technique developed by Richard Bandler, who is a co-founder of NLP.
The reason this works according to the Human Givens Institute, is the person who suffered trauma causing the phobia is able to reprogram their memory of the event to a more ordinary memory, perhaps an uncomfortable one, but not one that puts them in a panic state any longer.
With advanced reprogramming techniques such as NLP, there is really no need for anyone to suffer from a fear of long words. Consult with a qualified NLP practitioner if you have such a phobia or know someone suffering from this, to see if NLP is able to help.