Gelophobia is also called geliophobia or gelotophobia. A phobia is an intense, often irrational fear (or the degree of fear is irrational) of something. Gelophobia has nothing to do with a fear of hand gel, hair gel, jelly, jello, gelatin, gelatine or anything like that. It is in fact the fear of laughter, usually the intense fear or dread of being laughed at. A few sources also say it is the dread of laughing inappropriately or laughing and exposing teeth that are in bad condition.
Whilst people generally enjoy a good laugh, I am not aware of anyone who actually likes to be laughed at. Well, comedians and stand up comics do but that's because they intend to be funny. The audience is laughing at their jokes. It is one thing to crack a joke or wear a funny costume with the intention of getting people to laugh.
Clowns want to be laughed at Image courtesy of Pixabay
It is quite another to be laughed at for making a mistake or because your windcheater is on inside out.
How did this condition end up being called gelophobia? 'Gelos' is Greek for laughter.
Details of gelophobia Someone suffering from geliophobia may:
dread being laughed at
think people are ridiculing them whenever they hear laughter in the vicinity
find comedy, jokes and funny situations unsettling
be uncomfortable hearing laughter even from the television
avoid social functions
suffer anxiety especially social anxiety
avoid laughing themselves
worry excessively they will laugh at the wrong time
Symptoms of gelophobia The person suffering geliophobia may experience any of the following:
intense fear of impending disaster
Cause of gelophobia This is a relatively new phobia or perhaps it is just that only in recent times has it been openly identified. There is limited research but it is thought, like other phobias, the cause is usually a traumatic experience. It is generally believed it may develop from the experience of being regularly ridiculed during the early or teen years.
Treatments Treatments include cognitive behavioural therapy, exposure therapy, hypnotherapy, counselling and relaxation techniques. Severe cases may be treated with anti-anxiety medications.
Whilst for most people, laughter is the best medicine, this is not the case for a person suffering gelophobia.