Gelotophobia- Fear of being laughed at
Laughter is often said to be the best medicine, and indeed laughter is a characteristic that I believe makes human beings unique in the world. A sense of humour is a very good thing for overall health, well being and socialisation. However, generally speaking people prefer to be laughed with rather than laughed at, often being laughed at is a component of bullying either in youth or adulthood. People who have an intense and pervasive fear of being laughed at are said to suffer with Gelotophobia. This phobia, like many others, can be linked to some trauma in the past. Very often the sufferer will find it difficult or impossible to differentiate between laughter and being laughed at. These sufferers also fear that people do not take them seriously which can have an impact on their self esteem.
In a crowded room where there is laughter and merriment, these sufferers will personalise the laughter as being about them rather than for any other reason. They may feel that people are mocking them, often people they do not know. The sufferer tends to not associate laughter with happiness, but rather only of being ridiculed and mocked.
People with this phobia do not have a sense of humor and may have a flat affect, meaning they donât display any emotion. They are usually socially withdraw, are aloof and avoid interacting with other people for fear of being ridiculed. Sufferers of this phobia tend not to have a sense of humour and tend to keep their emotions very much in check, as they may feel that showing emotions can lead to the laughter and ridicule they so fear. They tend to be introverts socially, and may appear aloof and uninterested in the social dynamics occurring around them.
Cognitive based hypnotherapy can assist them in changing the way they think about themselves and laughter in general.