How Common is a Fear of Self?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Voight
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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A fear of self is a very uncommon type of phobia that manifests itself in several different ways. Also called autophobia, a fear of self may be a fear or distrust of one’s capabilities. For example, in rare situations a person may fear that he will harm others or cannot care for himself. This may be due to fearing the disabling effects of another mental illness or physical impairment, or the fear may be completely without a realistic basis. Perhaps more commonly, a person exhibiting a fear of self may fear being alone and require a companion at all times.

Like other fears and phobias, a fear of self may occur after a traumatic event, especially one in which a person feels personal responsibility for failing others or allowing a traumatic event to occur. A person may even accept responsibility when there is no valid reason. Phobias and fears may occur spontaneously or as the result of genetic predisposition. Some begin in childhood after witnessing an adult modeling fear and anxiety in response to a situation or animal. Phobias that begin in adulthood prove to be more difficult to treat than phobias that begin in childhood.


More than other fears and phobias, a fear of self can cause debilitating anxiety. Escape and avoidance, two techniques people suffering from phobias use to cope with fear, are unattainable since a person cannot escape from herself. A person with a fear of oneself often becomes highly dependent on the presence of others because the fear becomes more intense when alone. In fact, autophobia also refers to the fear of being alone and what one is capable of doing if alone and unaccountable to others.

The fear of self may manifest after the loss of a loved one, either to death, divorce, or abandonment. Loss, especially if it is repeated, can cause a person to doubt himself and question whether he has the ability to survive alone. Devastating loss can trigger thoughts that are out of character with a person’s personality, even causing a person to consider suicide.

Since avoidance as a coping tool is impossible, treatment of fear of self requires an aggressive approach. Cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, can be effective. Since fear of self involves a lack of confidence in one’s own abilities, the empowering skills learned from CBT can help a person learn to gain control of her own behavior and thought processes.



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