Most of us don’t enjoy being laughed at, but there are some people who suffer from Gelotophobia, the intense and excessive fear of being laughed at. Sufferers may have a hard time differentiating laughter and always take laughter as a form of ridicule. Gelotophobia may be caused by a traumatic event in the past, a child who was never taken seriously or constantly being laughed at may grow up to develop gelotophobia. Another probable cause is bullying.
People with this phobia avoid being in crowds and may think that people laughing around them may be laughing at them even if the other people are not actually even looking at him or her. Most of these people have poor self-esteem and self-worth and they think that they are always the subject of ridicule. They never associate laughter with happiness, only to ridicule.
People with this phobia do not have a sense of humor and may have a flat affect, meaning they don’t display any emotion. They are usually socially withdraw, are aloof and avoid interacting with other people for fear of being ridiculed.
Treatment includes psychotherapy including cognitive and behavioral therapy.