Telefonophobia (fear Of Telephones): Causes, Symptoms And Therapy

There is a lot of talk these days about telephone addiction (nomophobia) and how many people have become so accustomed to using them that they are unable to live without them. Mobile phones accompany us everywhere, and with technological advances and the appearance of smartphones, they are like having a small computer in our pocket. Although these devices are addictive, they are really useful.

However, There are individuals who do not enjoy the benefits of having a mobile device and suffer from what is known as telephonophobia., that is, irrational fear of telephones, whether mobile or landline. In this article we will talk about this phobic disorder and delve into its causes, symptoms and consequences.

    The importance of phones in our lives

    Telephones allow us to communicate with people who are far from us. They are an indispensable tool for our daily lives and for many jobs, which is why they are considered one of the most important inventions in the history of humanity. For many years it was thought that the creator of this device was Alexander Graham Bell, together with Elisha Gray, but in reality, he only patented it. The inventor of the telephone was Antonio Meucci.

    Since then, the telephone evolved and gave way to mobile phones and later to smartphones (smart mobile phones), from which it is not only possible to talk, but also connect to the Internet, and therefore, to social networks, to different “apps” and different websites where it is possible to make purchases, make transactions and many more functions.

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    It is clear that we can live without mobile phones, but no one doubts that they are really useful

    Telephonophobia: what is it?

    Not everyone enjoys the benefits of mobile phones, as some individuals suffer from a condition called telephonophobia, which is the irrational fear of telephones. These pathologies, according to the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), belong to anxiety disorders.

    Telephonophobia is a specific phobia, and therefore an irrational fear of certain objects or situations.. Some specific phobic stimuli are spiders, injections or snakes.

    Specific phobias are known as simple phobias; However, there are other types of phobic disorders that are considered complex: social phobia and agoraphobia.

      Phobias and their development through classical conditioning

      Phobias are common phenomena, and many patients go to psychological therapy to treat them. Fear is a feeling that we all experience, and it is relatively common to feel discomfort and fear about something. Now, in some cases, these fears are really irrational, which is why it is necessary to seek professional help.

      Phobias develop due to a type of associative learning called classical conditioning., which occurs when a person experiences a traumatic event and associates phobic stimuli with this event. Classical conditioning was first investigated by a Russian physiologist named Ivan Pavlov, but the first to perform experiments on humans was John B. Watson.

        Other causes of phobias

        However, phobias can not only be learned through direct experience, but also through observation, this is what is known as vicarious conditioning, a type of learning that resembles modeling and imitation, but is not the same. In our article “Vicarious conditioning: how does this type of learning work?” We explain it to you in detail.

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        As you see, phobias are learned, although Some theorists think that there is a genetic origin and that phobias are hereditary.. Although this option is increasingly being ruled out, experts think that we are biologically predisposed to fear certain stimuli, since fear is an adaptive emotion that provokes the fight-flight response, which has been key to the survival of the human species. This would explain why fears do not respond well to logical arguments, since they are formed by primitive and non-cognitive associations.

        Phobic symptoms

        The symptoms are common in all phobic disorders, since the only thing that varies is the stimulus that causes it.. As it is an anxiety disorder, this is its main symptom, together with fear and discomfort, which causes an avoidance response, which has to do with the fight-flight response in dangerous situations. The discomfort and anxiety are so great that the phobic wants to leave the situation as soon as possible to reduce the symptoms.

        These symptoms occur at three levels: cognitive, behavioral and physical. Cognitive symptoms include fear and anxiety around mobile phones, as well as anguish, confusion, lack of concentration, irrational thoughts, etc. Avoidance of any situation in which the person can visualize having a mobile phone nearby is their main behavioral symptom. Physical symptoms include: rapid pulse, hyperventilation, stomach pain and nausea, feeling of suffocation, dry mouth, etc.


        Phobias are disorders that cause great discomfort but are treatable and with some success. In fact, research affirms that there is a high success rate when the patient goes to psychological therapy and is treated with cognitive behavioral therapy. This form of therapy includes different techniques, and relaxation techniques and exposure to the phobic stimulus, whether through imagination or live, are especially useful for overcoming phobias.

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        In fact, a widely used technique that encompasses the previous ones is automatic desensitization, a technique developed by Joseph Wolpe in 1958, and which aims to expose the patient to the phobic stimulus gradually and at the same time teach coping skills (in particular , relaxation techniques).

          However, currently, other forms of therapy are also used that have proven to be very useful for anxiety disorders in general. They are Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MCBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). In addition to psychological therapy, in extreme phobias, drugs can also be used, but always in combination with psychotherapy.