Ophthalmophobia, otherwise known as scopophobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by a morbid fear of being seen or stared at by others. Ophthalmophobia can also be associated with a pathological fear of drawing attention to oneself.
Ophthalmophobia is unique among phobias in that the fear of being looked at is considered both social and specific phobia because it is a specific occurrence which takes place in a social setting. Ophthalmophobia generally arises from a traumatic event in the victim’s life it is likely that the person was subjected to public ridicule as a child. It is also possible that the person suffering from ophthalmophobia is often subject to public staring, possibly due to a deformity or physical ailment.
Individuals with ophthalmophobia generally exhibit symptoms in social situations when attention is brought upon them.
Many symptoms of ophthalmophobia include: an irrational feeling of panic, feeling of terror, feeling of dread, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea, dry mouth, trembling, anxiety, and extreme avoidance measures taken.
One treatment option for those suffering with ophthalmophobia ia is to be stared at for a prolonged period of time and then describe their feelings. With the hope that the individual will either be desensitized to being stared at or discover the root of their ophthalmophobia. Exposure therapy is another treatment that is commonly prescribed. There are five steps to exposure therapy: evaluation, feedback, developing a fear hierarchy, exposure, building.