Alektorophobia is an extreme, irrational fear of chickens. Sometimes it involves a fear of contamination from dirty chickens. Other times, alektorophobia stems more from a fear of being pecked or attacked. Most of the time the fear increases with close proximity to chickens and subsides with distance, but sometimes even a picture or video of a chicken can provoke severe anxiety.
Usually, alektorophobia applies only to live or uncooked chickens. Cooked chickens do not generally spark the same fear in alektorophobia sufferers, though sometimes the fear of contamination does prevent the affected individual from eating chicken. Sometimes, the fear can also spread to other objects related to chickens, such as chicken feathers or eggs.
Some people can pinpoint a particular event that provoked the phobia, while other people claim to have been affected with the fear and anxiety since birth. Despite the occasional claims that the phobia has persisted since birth, this fear, like other phobias, does originate with a specific event. The specific event itself may not be discernible in some cases since it could be something as simple as a scary scene in a long forgotten movie viewed during childhood. Conversely, the event may have been intensely traumatic and memorable, such as an actual chicken attack or severe food poisoning from eating chicken.
Alektorophobia, as with other phobias, can significantly disrupt daily life with symptoms ranging from mild anxiety and discomfort to paralyzing terror, heart palpitations, and hyperventilation. Panic attacks related to alektorophobia may be socially disruptive as well, because to outside observers, the fear seems completely irrational, even silly. Sufferers of alektorophobia who frequently encounter chickens, such as while living or working on a farm, may feel unable or unwilling to complete daily activities. When the phobia becomes so severe that it interferes with a normal life, psychological help must be sought.
For sufferers with mild symptoms, relaxation techniques may be used to help dissolve some of the fear and discomfort. Another treatment for alektorophobia is exposure therapy, where the time spent around chickens is gradually increased to desensitize the individual and allow them to have nonthreatening experiences while slowly adjusting to the situation. Therapy is a popular option, aiming to help resolve the fear by recognizing and learning how to control it. Hypnotherapy and anxiety medications are also options sometimes. The psychologist or psychiatrist treating the individual may recommend one or several of these methods to effectively manage the condition.