Verbophobia is defined as the profound fear of words of which there are several causes. One is that a person might never had the chance to learn how to read. This is more common in third world countries and they fear it because they know that they do not know. They cannot understand words when they see them and they are embarrassed about it.
Another reason is they might be held responsible if they have read something that they were not supposed to read that have led to an unpleasant event. One example might be accidentally reading from a medical chart that one is afflicted with a terminal disease and accidentally telling this to that person when family members have done their best to keep the truth from him or her and as a result caused them to blame you for telling. This can lead a person to fear reading so that the less then know, the safer they feel.
This can be a learned behavior or could have been passed on from one generation to another, or could have been observed through other people.
People with this fear will try their best not to read books, newspapers, magazines, or even feel uneasy when watching a movie that has subtitles in them. They can manifest as trembling, palpitations, restlessness, shortness of breath, or even sometimes uncontrollable panic attacks.
Behavioral therapy can help alleviate symptoms but if severe, anti-anxiety medications can be prescribed by a physician especially if this fear interferes with activities of daily living.