Ochlophobia is an abnormal and intense fear of crowds,
mobs, or any environmentwith a large crowd of people.
Many people with ochlophobia have agoraphobia, which
can involve fear of being in places or situations in
which escape may be difficult or embarrassing (as
when someone is in a crowd) or in which help may not
be available in the event of having an unexpected or
situationally predisposed panic attack or panic-like
symptoms. While it is normal to sometimes be
uncomfortable in crowded places, a fear of crowds
becomes pathological when it significantly limits the
personís daily functioning and/or causes harm.
Ochlophobia can develop in response to a prior traumatic that a person or someone
close to that person had with crowds, such as trying to escape from an emergency in a
crowded area, being injured in a crowd, or getting lost in a crowd. People with
ochlophobia have an overwhelming sense of wanting to get away from the crowd. People
with ochlophobia may also experience trembling, sweating, feeling clammy, racing heart,
heart palpitations, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, weakness,
lightheadedness, shaking, crying, chest discomfort, fear of loss of control, fainting, feeling
technique that is very helpful in treating ochlophobia is cognitive behavioral therapy
(CBT) in which people learn to change their thoughts to change their resulting feelings.
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The person learns not to over-estimate the risk of being harmed by
crowds by understanding that not all crowded situations are harmful
or will lead to negative outcomes. In this way, thoughts become less
intrusive and anxiety-provoking. CBT is the most common form of
Another technique is a method known as desensitization in which a
person is taught how to relax when being exposed to progressively
more intense forms of the feared stimuli (e.g., a crowd of 5 people, 10
people, or 15 people). The person is exposed to more intense forms
of the stimulus as they master the fear at the less intense level.
Sometimes, the more intense form of the stimuli is based on the amount of the stimuli whereas in other
cases it may be based on the duration of exposure (e.g., one minute, two minutes, three minutes, etc,
such as the length of time that elapsed remaining in a crowd). CBT is often combined with desensitization
and typically works within a few months.
Another treatment technique is a behavioral method known as flooding in which the person is immersed
directly in the feared stimulus (e.g., a large crowd) to demonstrate that the fear is irrational. The fear is
replaced by realization of this and the application of relaxation techniques. Flooding is a faster but more
traumatic form of treatment than desensitization. A more insight-oriented technique involves exploring the
original cause of the phobia (e.g., a traumatic childhood event) and trying to resolve issues surrounding
this. This may involve use of CBT techniques and/or other counseling methods. Ochlophobia can be
treated by an anti-anxiety medication designed to decrease anxiety. Sometimes, antidepressant
medications may be used because some anti-depressants are useful for treating anxiety as well as
depression. Ochlophobia comes from the Greek word "ochlos" meaning "glass," and the Greek word
"phobos" meaning "fear. Put the two words together and you have "fear (of) crowds."