Scopophobia is an anxiety disorder, in which the patient is experiencing high levels of fear from being watched, looked at or stared at by others.
A related, though rather different disorder is called scopophilia, in which the patient retains aesthetic pleasure from staring at something or someone.
Triggers to the phobia include public speaking, making a phone call in public, or being publically criticized, which can all lead to a shortness of breath, feelings of terror, shaking and even nausea or muscle tension.
“Scopophobia” has a long history, dating back to 400BC, when the most prominent figure in medicine Hippocrates referred to the disorder in relation to an overly shy person, whom he described as “he thinks every man observes him”.
The term was first published in a 1906 psychiatric journal, called The Alienist and Neurologist, in which they described the condition as “a fear of seeing people or being seen”.
The word comprises of two Greek terms; scopeo meaning to examine or inspect, and –phobia meaning fear.
Spread and Usage
The explosive growth of the human population is only making it harder for “scopophobic” people to be part of the community, especially in a more and more alienated society in which most people are reserved from each other and everyone is a stranger, rendering humans to be a lot warier of each other.
The term was defined on Urban Dictionary in 2013.
- Healthline – What to Know About Scopophobia, or Fear of Being Stared At
- Verywell Mind – Scoptophobia or the Fear of Being Stared At