Cacophobia is an intense fear of ugliness. People with this anxiety disorder may fear becoming ugly. Or they might have symptoms of panic and anxiety when they think about or see something ugly. Cacophobia is one of only a few phobias that are subjective instead of objective. The individual determines what’s ugly and, therefore, scary.
Cacophobia is an intense fear of ugliness. The condition is a specific phobia (fear), which is a type of anxiety disorder.
People with cacophobia might be afraid of looking ugly themselves, or they might worry about seeing something they consider to be ugly. A person with cacophobia might fear all forms of ugliness or a specific kind, such as perceived ugliness in people, animals, places or objects.
People with cacophobia can get very stressed or anxious when they think about or see something they consider to be ugly. The condition can also affect personal and professional relationships. People with this condition may understand that their fear is extreme, but may not be able to control it.
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Most phobias are objective, meaning they have to do with things that are indisputable. For example, being afraid of snakes is objective because the definition of snake can’t be disputed. A snake is clearly a snake.
But cacophobia is subjective. An individual with cacophobia determines what’s ugly and what’s not. One person with cacophobia may be terrified of a certain “ugly” object, but another person with cacophobia might not react at all to the same thing.
It’s hard to know exactly how many people have a specific phobia, like cacohobia (fear of ugliness). Many people may keep this fear to themselves or may not recognize they have it. We do know that about 1 in 10 American adults and 1 in 5 teenagers will deal with a specific phobia disorder at some point in their lives.
Mental health professionals aren’t sure what causes specific phobias, such as cacophobia. But most believe it’s a combination of:
A person with cacophobia may experience anxiety symptoms when they think about or encounter something they consider to be ugly:
People with cacophobia may also demonstrate certain behaviors:
There are no tests to diagnose specific fears. A healthcare provider can diagnose the condition based on discussions with you about:
A healthcare provider can diagnose cacophobia if your fear of ugliness:
People with mild cacophobia may not need treatment. But if the fear causes physical symptoms or affects your life, you should talk to a healthcare provider.
Possible treatments for cacophobia include:
Mental health professionals don’t fully understand what causes cacophobia, so there’s no proven way to prevent it.
However, treating cacophobia can help you prevent the development of related anxiety disorders:
Cacophobia has no cure, but therapy helps most people who practice it regularly.
Many people can manage specific fears and the associated symptoms of anxiety. Certain techniques can help people with cacophobia when they encounter something they think is ugly:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Cacophobia is an anxiety disorder that involves intense, irrational fear of ugliness. People with the condition may worry about being ugly themselves or encountering something they consider to be ugly. The fear is subjective, meaning the individual determines what’s ugly and frightening. Untreated cacophobia may lead to other disorders, so it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/23/2022.
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