Everyone has something that they are afraid of; the world is filled with weird and scary things that can cause a person to feel nervous and frightened. While some things that scare people make sense due to the reasonable threat they cause, other things people fear can seem be come from an unreasonable place of fear due to the lack of threat that the things or situations cause. Submechanophobia is a term that has circulated on the internet thanks message boards like Reddit for some time. According to those who claim to be experiencing this phobia, they report that submechanophobia involves a fear of man-made objects being submerged under water. People who report experiencing this state that they are afraid of things like buoys, submarines, sunken ships, and many other things that sink into the ocean.
While this alleged phobia has not been confirmed through research as, many people on the internet claim to have an irrational fear of the things being described as submechanophobia. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 9 percent of U.S. adults are diagnosed with having a phobia. Research has found that women are more prone to phobias than men, and that almost 50% of all phobias in the U.S. are considered mild cases. So, if the thought of sunken ships or buoys make you cringe, chances are that you may experience some mild symptoms of what is being called submechanophobia, but it may not meet full criteria for a specific phobia diagnosis. Being freaked out by something does not necessarily mean that you have a phobia. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), which is what mental health professionals use to diagnose patients with mental health diagnoses, these are the criteria of a phobia:
- Unreasonable and Excessive Fear
- The person’s fear levels must be unreasonable for the situation and it is persistent even though they may recognize that it is excessive (though this is no longer part of the criteria for diagnosis).
- Immediate Anxiety Response
- When presented with the fearful situation, the person will have an immediate and extreme response appearing to look as if they are in danger when the situation is not dangerous.
- Avoidance/Extreme Distress
- The person will go to great lengths to avoid their fears, and if they cannot they exhibit symptoms of extreme distress like panic symptoms.
- This fear significantly impacts their ability to function in their social, occupational or educational pursuits.
- Symptoms of fear must last for longer than 6 months
- Not Due to Another Disorder
- Symptoms must not also be related to another mental health condition.
If you experience the following
symptoms when presented with man-made items being submerged in water, you may
indeed meet criteria for a specific phobia. Seeking out help from a mental
health professional who specializes in phobias is the best way to treat these
symptoms if they are severely affecting your life. In the case of submechanophobia,
it is likely that avoidance of these fear triggers is relatively easy, so it
may not be something that impacts your normal day to day functioning very much,
unless you work on the water. Either way, if you’re interested in addressing
your fears, a trained mental health professional can help you begin to
understand the way your fearful thoughts are contributing to your symptoms, and
how your feelings are related to your behavior to help you improve your
functioning. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) strategies are often used to
help someone struggling with phobias develop insight into how they can change
the way they think about a situation and how they can use coping skills to
regulate their bodies when presented with fearful situations or things. Therapists
will also use exposure therapy to help gradually expose someone to their fears
to help them decrease their reactivity to it over time. Either way, if submechanophobia
symptoms are causing you significant distress, it’s best to reach out to a
mental professional who can help you make sense of these fears.
Dr. Shannon McHugh is a Licensed Clinical and Forensic Psychologist in Los Angeles, California. She specializes in assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, and adults who have developmental and social delays, behavioral difficulties, and those who have experienced traumatic events