Amatophobia: Causes And Symptoms Of Fear Of Dust And Dirt

Few sensations are as distressing and make you feel as bad as fear, which can be manifested by the presence of real or imagined danger. Fear occurs when a stressful stimulus causes the release of a series of substances that cause the heart to accelerate, breathing to increase, and the body to prepare for the fight-flight response.

Although fear is an adaptive response, it can sometimes cause a lot of suffering to the person who suffers from it. Especially when the fear is not real and manifests itself over and over again.

In this article we will talk about a phobic disorder called amatophobia That is, irrational fear of dust and dirt.

What are phobias

Phobias are irrational and pathological fears that cause great suffering to the person who suffers from them. They are included in anxiety attacks, because their main symptom, in addition to fear, is the anxiety and anguish that the person experiences. Phobias cause the phobic individual to avoid the stimulus that causes discomfort.

When we talk about phobic disorders there are three types Agoraphobia, which is an irrational fear that is characterized because the person who suffers from it is afraid of finding themselves in situations in which they will not be able to receive help in a crisis. Social phobia is a disorder (or disorders) that appear in social interaction with other people, for example, erythrophobia or the fear of blushing. Finally, specific phobias are those that develop in front of a specific object or being. For example, arachnophobia or fear of spiders, coulrophobia or fear of clowns or amatophobia or fear of dust, which we will talk about in more detail in the following lines.

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Causes of amatophobia

Amatophobia is the persistent and irrational fear of dust and dirt. Like any phobia, causes avoidance of the feared stimulus and high levels of anxiety It can affect the normality of an individual’s life since dust can appear anywhere. For example, in your own home.

Among the most frequent causes we can find…

1. Traumatic Experience

Traumatic experiences can be the origin of a phobia, due to classical conditioning, a person can learn to be afraid of a harmless stimulus due to the association that occurs when two stimuli are presented simultaneously. Classical conditioning became popular thanks to the experiments of John Watson. To learn more about classical conditioning, you can read our article: “Classical conditioning and its most important experiments.”

Due to the intense emotions that people can experience, a single traumatic incident can cause a person to develop this pathology

2. Learning by observation

But traumatic experiences are not the only cause of this disorder, and an individual does not have to experience classical conditioning on his or her own skin. Simply observe another person experiencing the traumatic event, through a phenomenon called vicarious conditioning. In the case of amatophobia, watching a movie in which toxic dust appears can cause the development of this disorder.

3. Biological predisposition

Phobia experts assure that human beings are biologically predisposed to experience irrational fears, since the emotion of fear is adaptive and does not usually respond to logical arguments. This occurs because it has its origin in primitive and non-cognitive associations.

Symptoms of this disorder

Phobias belong to the group of anxiety disorders, since anxiety is one of the characteristic symptoms, as is fear.

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When the phobia develops, The phobic subject experiences cognitive symptoms, such as anxiety, catastrophic thoughts, irrational fear or daze Behavioral symptoms also appear. For example, the attempt to avoid the feared stimulus. Finally, physical and physiological symptoms such as hyperventilation, rapid pulse or chest tightness are also common.


Anxiety disorders and, specifically, phobias, have been scientifically studied on multiple occasions. Based on many research data, psychological therapy appears to be very effective.

There are many types of therapy, but for the treatment of phobic disorders, cognitive behavioral therapy is usually used, which applies different methods such as relaxation techniques or exposure techniques.

In fact, a technique that is ideal for treating phobias is systematic desensitization which consists of exposing the patient to the phobic stimulus gradually while learning different coping strategies such as relaxation techniques.

New therapies to treat phobias

In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, in recent years other therapeutic models have also been used that have proven to be effective Two especially stand out, cognitive therapy based on Mindfulness or acceptance and commitment therapy, both belonging to what are known as third generation therapies or contextual therapies.

Furthermore, thanks to new technologies, virtual reality therapies are being applied, which expose the patient to the phobic stimulus without the patient needing to be present. With the technological advance of smartphones, it is possible to find this tool in some apps.