What Is Submechanophobia?

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Updated on August 4, 2022

People can be afraid of different objects or situations for numerous reasons, but so long as those fears have no impact on their lives, they are harmless. In fact, fear can help keep us safe from the dangers in the world around us. It’s when those fears are irrational, overwhelming and accompanied by symptoms of severe anxiety that they actually become problematic. These types of fears are called specific phobias and they can affect our daily functioning when untreated.

objects submerged under water

One such phobia is submechanophobia, the fear of man-made objects that are submerged under water. People experiencing this condition are typically afraid of things like buoys, submarines, sunken ships, and many other objects that sink into the ocean.

While this phobia has not been confirmed through research, it has been reported many by people in discussion groups across the web. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 12.5% of U.S. adults experience a specific a phobia of some sort, not all of them falling under the more commonly known fears such as gamophobia and agoraphobia.

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 submechanophobia, but it may not meet full criteria for a specific phobia diagnosis.

Symptoms of Submechanophobia

Symptoms of submechanophobia are similar to other specific phobias. Therefore, when in the presence of a submerged object, those suffering from this condition may experience the following:

  • Panic attack (shortness of breath, sweating, trembling etc…)
  • Difficulty functioning
  • Intense fear
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

The intensity of these symptoms varies based on the severity of the phobia and proximity to the object. If you experience these symptoms when presented with man-made items being submerged in water, you may indeed meet criteria for a specific phobia.

Diagnosis Criteria

Being scared of something does not necessarily mean that you have a phobia. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), 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.
  • Life-limiting – This fear significantly impacts their ability to function in their social, occupational or educational pursuits.
  • 6+ Month duration – Symptoms of fear must last for longer than 6 months.
  • Not attributable to another disorder – Symptoms must not also be related to another mental health condition.

Treating Submechanophobia

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 the 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 therapist 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) is often used for treating specific phobias. It can help you develop insight into how you can change the way you think about a situation, and how you can use coping skills to regulate your body when presented with fearful situations or things. CBT is a widely practiced by many mental health providers, as well as platforms for online therapy.

Therapists will also use exposure therapy to help gradually expose you to your fears and minimize their impact on you over time. If submechanophobia symptoms are causing you significant distress, it’s best to find a mental health professional who can help you address these fears.


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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

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