Fear Of Numbers (arithmophobia Or Numerophobia): Causes, Symptoms And Treatment


The world of psychopathologies is a complex world, in which many disorders exist. One of the most frequent are phobias, which are characterized because the person who experiences them feels an extreme and persistent irrational fear, as well as great anxiety and discomfort when faced with a stimulus (situation, animal and object).

Phobias are part of the group of anxiety disorders, and can be experienced at any age. In this article we will talk we will talk about arithmophobia or numerophobia, the irrational fear of numbers as well as the way it affects daily life.

What is aritmophobia

Arithmophobia is an irrational fear of numbers, mathematics or arithmetic It is also called numerophobia and causes great discomfort to the person who suffers from it, who tends to avoid the feared stimulus at all costs.

This alteration can seriously affect the life of the individual with this disorder, since Numbers and mathematical calculations are present in people’s daily lives Seeing numbers written on a blackboard or calculating shopping expenses can be situations that cause great discomfort to the phobic and that they tend to avoid.

Phobias are quite common anxiety disorders, and there are different types: social phobias, agoraphobia and specific phobias. The latter are characterized because the phobic stimulus is a specific object, situation or animal, which causes the irrational and disproportionate reaction of fear. Among these phobias we can find aerophobia or fear of flying, arachnophobia or fear of spiders or arithmophobia or fear of numbers.

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Causes of phobias

Although one can speak of a phobic person, phobias are learned. They often appear after a traumatic experience which, in the case of arithmophobia, the person associates with numbers. This occurs through a type of associative learning called classical conditioning.

Classical conditioning is a learning in which the individual associates an unconditioned stimulus (traumatic event) that elicits an unconditioned response (fear response) to an originally neutral stimulus but which is later known as a conditioned stimulus (numbers), which ends up causing the unconditioned response, now called the conditioned response.

Other causes of this phobia

This phobia can also appear for other reasons. For example, the person has had a bad experience with mathematics and, Given the fear and insecurity of doing the calculations wrong, express the symptoms

Now, it does not necessarily have to be the phobic who experiences the traumatic event on his own skin, but rather the observation of the traumatic event in another person, which would be known as vicarious conditioning, can cause the development of this pathology.

On the other hand, several phobia experts affirm that phobias have a biological component, because it is common to acquire irrational fears. Fear is a very adaptive and useful emotion, which has helped the human species survive throughout the centuries. The emotion of fear originates from primitive associations in the limbic system, and not from cognitive associations in the neocortex. This explains why a person, even knowing that he or she suffers from a phobia, is unable to overcome it simply with reason.

Symptoms of number phobia

Regardless of the type of phobia, the symptoms are usually common. Since it is an anxiety disorder, Anxiety is usually the main symptom along with fear, but there are others These symptoms are classified into three types: cognitive, behavioral and physical.

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Among the cognitive symptoms we can highlight fear, anxiety, confusion or catastrophic thoughts. Avoidance of the feared stimulus is a behavioral symptom that phobics present. Headaches, hyperventilation, nausea, and upset stomach are physical symptoms experienced by people with a fear of numbers.

Treatment of numerophobia

Phobias are very common disorders, and there is much scientific evidence regarding effective treatment. According to the results of these studies, Cognitive behavioral therapy appears to be the most effective type of psychotherapy

This form of therapy includes different techniques, of which relaxation techniques and exposure techniques are effective for the treatment of phobias. A technique that includes both and that provides good results to overcome phobic disorders is systematic desensitization.

Systematic desensitization aims to expose the patient to the phobic stimulus gradually First, however, the patient must learn a series of coping strategies that help reduce anxious symptoms when faced with the phobic stimulus.

In addition to cognitive behavioral techniques, other types of psychotherapy such as Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy They have turned out to be very effective. Both forms of psychotherapy are considered third-generation therapy, which emphasizes the patient’s functional context and acceptance.