Humanity has a lot of fears that have become fairly easy to explain: heights, drowning, and even spiders have evolutionary backgrounds. But, not all fears you can have will make much sense to people. The fear of chickens is a great example of a fear that’s hard to explain.
Chickens are generally not that scary. After all, we’ve been raising them and also eating them for thousands of years. Yet, once in a blue moon, you’ll hear of someone who is absolutely petrified of chickens. What is this called, and how can you treat it?
What’s the official name of being afraid of chickens?
The official name for a specific phobia of chickens is alektorophobia. Alektorophobia is a term named after the Greek word “alektor,” which translated into “cock.” So, technically, this is a fear of roosters more than it is a fear of hens—at least according to the translation.
With that said, alektorophobia is generally extended to both genders of chicken, as well as all parts of the chicken’s lifecycle. If it clucks or crows, then it probably fits under this official phobia name umbrella.
How can you tell if you have alektorophobia?
It’s pretty easy to see if you have a fear of chickens. You will start to get scared around chickens. People who have extreme reactions to this phobia may experience nausea, shaking, random bouts of sweat, palpitations, or even panic attacks at the sight of a chicken.
It may sound funny to have an intense fear of chickens, but it’s really not funny at all. People who suffer from this diagnosis experience significant distress from it. Some even panic at the sight of chicken feathers.
Could it be anything else aside from Alektorophobia?
Sometimes, what people have isn’t a fear of chickens, but rather, a less specific phobia. If it’s not just an inability to be around chickens that bother you, you may want to look into ornithophobia.
Ornithophobia is a fear of birds. Not a specific bird, mind you, but just a generalized fear of birds. The symptoms of ornithophobia are similar to the symptoms of alektorophobia, but the symptoms kick off whenever someone sees any bird.
How bad is alektorophobia?
This depends on the severity of their fear. For some, it’s just a mild case of an adrenaline rush followed by a Yelp if you see one. In this case, it’s not a medical phobia but simply a fear or discomfort around chickens.
For others, it can be an embarrassing and debilitating fear that affects their ability to socialize. That’s when it stops being a simple fear and turns into a legitimate phobia.
For many people, the psychological symptoms won’t really affect their daily life that much. Some won’t even mind seeing a cartoon of Foghorn Leghorn on their TV—much like people who fear spiders may not mind seeing them on their TV.
Why do people develop a fear of chickens?
There is never entirely a fully developed reason why people may have a certain fear. Sometimes, it’s just something that develops for no rhyme or reason. There are people out there afraid of birds who never had a bad experience with them.
However, in many cases, there is a tie to trauma that may cause a specific phobia like this. It could be a matter of being told horrible things about chickens as a child, being bitten by a chicken, or even something along the lines of something like a prank gone wrong.
Each person’s fear development is going to be different.
Do you have to be officially diagnosed with alektorophobia?
Technically, you may have to be diagnosed. A phobia diagnosis is not the same as having a fear when it comes to the medical world. In casual conversation, the terms “fear” and “phobia” mean the same thing.
In the medical world, a phobia is more than just a fear. You can be afraid of spiders, but you won’t have a phobia of them unless it seriously interferes with your ability to live life normally. A phobia is no laughing matter. It’s extremely distressing.
Do you have to treat a fear of chickens?
If you can live your day-to-day life without serious interruptions because of your fear, there’s really no reason to pursue that fear medically. Sometimes, the most obvious answer tends to be the best one to take.
Most people who need treatment know that they can’t keep living like that.
What can a doctor do about alektorophobia?
Honestly, the treatment for a phobia of chickens is going to be about the same as most other phobias. Here’s what people can do to make their fears a little less awful, with the help of a medical professional…
Although it is rare, certain doctors may choose to prescribe you medications that help alleviate the physical symptoms that you have as a result of the fear of poultry that you may have.
This is often done in light doses, typically in cases where exposure to chickens can lead to panic attacks or heart palpitations. Most doctors will also insist on having treatment done through other means as well.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a specific type of talk therapy that focuses on spotting behaviors that can harm our daily lives and learning how to stop them. It’s also known as CBT, and it’s been used to help people with a wide array of different mental illnesses.
While CBT is mostly used for people who have personality disorders, PTSD, and other similar issues, it can be used to address phobias. It’s a good idea to ask a therapist who specializes in CBT if this could work for you.
Sometimes, you don’t need to have an official phobia according to the DSM-5 to get the heebie-jeebies from chickens. You can just have a fear of birds that you find unsettling. If you ask mental health professionals, they can help you handle this.
Almost all fears relating to creatures can be aided by using targeted relaxation techniques to help allay those fears. This is especially true if you’re just more or less afraid of getting in an area where a chicken could be.
Let’s just face it. Fear of chickens is a rare condition, and most of us do not come into contact with live chickens on a daily basis. It’s very possible to create a life where you can easily avoid specific creatures like chickens or snakes.
If you can create a life that doesn’t involve interacting with chickens, then this can be the easiest way to deal with a fear of chickens. Out of sight, out of mind.
This may seem a bit “woo woo” for some people, but there have been people who have been able to see serious progress in phobias through the use of hypnoanalysis and hypnotherapy. This involves putting you in a deeply relaxed state that leaves you more open to suggestions.
When you’re in this state, you can usually internalize suggestions and open yourself up to new ways of thinking about things. This can help people who struggle with phobias reduce the shame and guilt associated with their fear.
There is also another type of therapy that has been a classic tool to reduce fears and phobias, but it can actually be quite difficult to undergo. Exposure therapy is exactly what it sounds like reducing your fears by exposing yourself to chickens.
This would start off with people just seeing a photo of a chicken or holding a chicken feather. When they stop panicking from that, they may “move up” to hearing a recording of a rooster or seeing a video.
Eventually, exposure therapy would involve them being in the same room as a live chicken, then possibly even holding one. Obviously, this is done in little steps to prevent people from having trauma as a result of the exposure.
For many people, exposure therapy can be a bit too much for them. It can lead to trauma if done wrong. So, take this with a grain of salt and talk with a mental health team to figure out if this is right for you.
Fear of chickens is a very real thing, though it is one of the rarest specific phobias documented to date. If you find yourself experiencing symptoms related to alektorophobia, then you owe it to yourself to get yourself the care that you need to make things work.
Alektorophobia is the proper medical term, and despite this phobia being rare, there are treatments available to you. With a little work, there’s no reason to believe you won’t be cluckin’ happy about your new lack of fear.