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Selenophobia - Fear of the Moon

Rujuta Borkar
The fear of the moon, usually perceived as irrational, has its roots in a traumatic childhood event or experience. Why does this fear come about, and what are the ways of dealing with this phobia? Let's find out.
The word selenophobia comes from two Greek words, 'seleno', meaning moon, and 'phobos' meaning fear.
Selenophobia, also sometimes called as lunaphobia, is the persistent and irrational fear of the moon, which is most usually due to a traumatic experience, especially in early childhood. The fear can manifest in many ways and extend to include not just fear on seeing the moon, but also moonlight, and in very severe cases, the darkness of the night itself.
It has been said that if left untreated, the fear can turn quite irrational to even affect the mental health of the sufferer; that is why there is need to understand the causes and treatment approaches for the same. In the given sections, we will let you in on the probable causes of this phobia, what it manifests into, and what are its treatment options.

Why Do Some People Fear the Moon?

There have been several accounts that have been related by selenophobics (people suffering from selenophobia) to justify their fear of the moon.
There are non-selenophobics who relate/equate this fear to probable (and often illogical) tales from folklore, and popular media representations of the moon (and other related topics, like vampires and the night). What are then, the causes of this fear? As with many phobias, this phobia finds its roots in certain traumatic or negative childhood events.
For an objective person/third person, these reasons might not seem grave enough to warranty developing a phobia, and many might dismiss them as being flimsy as well; but what is often not understood is that for a person who suffers from a phobia, a seemingly simple event could lead to a great impact.
To cite an example, let's say that a house is robbed on the night of the full moon, and a child in the house witnesses this. The fear that the child feels during that event could get transferred onto the general fear of the moon or the night, and he might start associating the moon with the fear of that night.
At that age, the child does not possess the reasoning power to understand that a full moon night has nothing to do with the crime. Similarly, there could be several negative incidents like these which could lead to developing a fear of the moon.
Moreover, this fear does not merely develop in children alone, but could also come about in adults―triggered by a negative incident(s) that has led to a general development of powerful negative emotions for the moon. If left untreated, this conditioning of the mind could develop into a full-fledged phobia as a child grows older and/or as time passes.
In general, the moon, as a celestial body, has a lot of awe and mystery surrounding it. So, there are tales rife with examples of creatures that live on the moon, haunt people, and the like.
If these tales have been related to a child during his childhood, he has believed them, and as a result, developed a fear of the moon, then unless tackled, the fear could turn into an irrational fear as he grows older and time passes. Many others are also affected by the popular representations of the moon in the media with everything that is dark and wrong.

Signs and Symptoms

This fear is often self-diagnosed, and the person may experience a range of physiological and psychological symptoms. These, as we have mentioned earlier, may be experienced upon a direct visual of the moon, due to the moonlight, or the night by itself. Here are certain signs and symptoms that may be experienced by a selenophobic.
 Body trembling
 Muscle tension
 Clammy hands
 Body chills
 Dry mouth
 Panic attack
 Irregular heartbeat
 Cold hands and feet
 Feeling trapped and unable to escape
While these are the physiological symptoms that selenophobia brings about, the degrees of the same will depend on the kind of fear that a person feels. Some may experience mild symptoms, while others may experience such emotional turmoil and anxiety that it can disrupt the functioning of their daily routine.

How Does One Treat This Fear?

In most cases, since the fear hampers the daily functioning of a selenophobic and affects the quality of his life, the selenophobic himself will want to undergo treatment in order to overcome the phobia.
There have been instances where a person has been able to get over his fear of the moon by self-analysis and feeding himself positive reinforcements. But the chances of that are rare, and most often, selenophobics require external help.
Varied Treatment Methods: Phobias are negative associations that a person has, which have become patterns over time. The key is to replace these negative associations with positive ones. This can only be done when the root cause of the phobia is learned.
A therapist is trained in using certain techniques to reach the root cause of the phobia and thereafter treating it. Depending on the severity of the phobia, he will employ methods, like hypnotherapy, positive reinforcement activities, counseling, meditation techniques, and group therapy sessions to help the person overcome his phobia.
Medication for the Symptoms: In cases of the severe symptoms of this phobia, that leads to emotional turmoil and negatively affects the daily routine of a selenophobic, a therapist may prescribe some medication to suppress the symptoms of this phobia. But that is exactly what these medicines will do―only suppress the symptoms, not cure the condition.
These are only given so that the person experiences some relief and can carry forth with his daily routine. For dealing with the root cause of the problem, however, the person has to consult a therapist who will help him overcome the phobia through the aid of varied methods (mentioned earlier).
Though selenophobia as a concept may be enveloped in myths and folklore, and it might be considered illogical and irrational by some, it can have a crippling effect on a person's life in its most severe form. Therefore, it is always advised that a person consult with a therapist and undertake treatment to overcome this phobia.
Disclaimer: This content is for informative purpose only and does not in any way attempt to replace the diagnosis of a medical professional.