Thalassophobia: Fear of the Ocean Phobia

Thalassophobia is real. The fear of large mass of waters is real. For a concise definition of thalassophobia, the term is the fear of oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, and other large water bodies that people dread. This fear has nothing to do with sex, age or whatever. Thalassophobia is a Greek word. Thalassa meaning oceans and phobos being the fear of.  A phobia is slightly different from fear, being that the former is an intense, unwarranted fear.

If thalassophobia is to be approached from the angle of it being a term, then the above definition is apt. But when thalassophobia is being approached from the angle of its effect on people then, perhaps, we can add that thalassophobia is the fear of the ocean and its associated and often exhibited natural features. It is one of the most common phobia

Thalassophobia Greek: thalassa, “sea” and φόβος, phobos, “fear”) is an intense and persistent fear of the sea. Thalassophobia is a clinical phobia generally classified under specific phobias, fear of a single specific panic trigger. Symptoms for thalassophobia are the same as for most specific phobias.

Is there anytime you find yourself struggling with thoughts like: “so many weird things live in the ocean. I can’t even see the bottom. Jellyfish seem inappropriate. Things can brush up against my leg. Remember sharks. Oh, the ocean is deep. Starfish. WaveThalassophobia. fear of oceans.” Yeah. Yeah. Those thoughts. Or what is usually your reaction whenever Titanic is being discussed?

 

Symptoms of Thalassophobia

Symptoms of thalassophobia were not supposed to be threatening or disturbing because it could sometimes only involve gastrointestinal distress. As well, and at other times, weeping and running away. This one can be a debilitating symptom by the way, especially if it’s interfering with social activities. Nonetheless, below are some few symptoms of thalassophobia.

  • Extreme Anxiety and/or Panic: for some, it is not really the fear of the ocean but the fear that the bottom is not going to hold a boat. Or that the bottom cannot be seen or touched. Or for the vastness of the ocean. Just thinking about or looking at the bottom of the ocean could make one tremble. It often makes things look like one is going to get trapped or encounter some sea creatures.
  • Nausea: just imagine it, as everybody was at the beach, then all of a sudden a shark emerged and people had to quickly vacate the water… Or in the worst case, there was a shark attack. Now, this is only some scenes you want to see in fantasy, trust me. In reality, you could almost throw up.

If your own fear of the ocean is in any way associated with its dark waters, then somehow you got off the boat and the water reaches for your chest… how does it feel like?

  • Irregular heartbeat: some dreams can be terrifying. Worst still if they are dreams involving oceans. You will wake up panting like you’ve been racing with Usain Bolt. Something like this: in that dream, you were having a shower. Soon the bathtub disappeared and you’re there helpless in the ocean. Or during those times you find yourself wind up in some underwater that seems like you can never escape. Although you were not hurt by any of these dreams (and, in fact, it is the case with most experiences of thalassophobia, whether in dream or reality), but you will agree with me you didn’t wake up from any of those dreams smiling. Instead, you woke up with a very troubled mind.
  • Sweating/excessive sweating: the above analogy of dreams is very well apt. You see, you sweat when you are at unease. You sweat when you’re being terrified by something. Even so, you will excessively sweat if you’re thalassophobia and you just snapped out of a bad dream, say one where you were all alone in a dark tank with some whales.
  • Dry mouth and shaking: the effect of the sight of the vastness of the ocean on thallophobias could sometimes be of sweaty hands. Breathing gets heavy that saliva failed out. It often feels like control is being lost and even at some point sentences motioned apart; they become inarticulate.

Causes of Thalassophobia

  • Triggering events: the fear of large waves, of vast emptiness, of encountering whales, sharks, or eels, are few identified mysteries that stem off some anxiety disorders which has been associated with people suffering from thalassophobia. In the news, we get to read about sea creatures attacking swimmers. Also, there have been reports of squids and other large sea animals getting washed up the shore. For a fact, all these sightings have their way of increasing and/or exacerbating the phobia. And do you remember Titanic? The movie version is realistically terrifying. People who are often disturbed by horror or the sight of violent death could start showing symptoms of thalassophobia.
  • Negative/traumatic events and Parents careless inputs: one beach experience gone wrong can hunt for long. It’s only left to the individual involved to free his/herself from the emotional and mental bondage.  Parents at times are not observing of their environment. They just talk regardless they have someone suffering from thallossophobia around.
  • Genetic disorder or diseases: this one is very rare, though. It is associated with hormonal imbalances.

Treatment for Thallossophobia

  • Hypnotherapy: just some therapy that involves a specialist — very well a psychologist — who tries to offer suggestions to the mind in order to achieve behavioral changes. This is done in repeated sessions. Hypnotherapy is an approved method of therapy. It is safe and works, too.
  • Neuron-linguistic programming: the idea behind this one is that for the fact that words used are often an inner reflection of the subconscious perception of problems, a neuron-linguistic therapist seeks to analyze every single word used in describing the symptoms. While examining facial expressions and movements, too, a therapist helps to remodel thoughts and mental association.

Books: really there are books for people with thallophobia. It isn’t like they work instantly; they at least kick start the process and it is a good one if you ask me. Books include;

  • Anxiety and Phobia workbook by Edmund Bourne
  • Anxiety Disorder and Phobia: A cognitive perspective by Aaron Beck and Gary Emery
  • Feeling good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns
  • When Panic Attacks: The New Drug-free anxiety therapy that can change your life by David D. Burns
  • Mastery of your Anxiety and Panic Workbook (Treatments that work) by David H. Barlow and Michelle G. Graske

Conclusion on Thalassophobia

It should, however, be understood that rarely can death result from this phobia. It is therefore expected that thallophobia is managed appropriately.