Pediophobia is the fear or worry of dolls. It is a specific phobia belonging to the category of ‘automatonphobia’. This is a type of phobia where the individual is afraid of all humanoid or “human-like-but-not-quite” objects including mannequins, marionettes, ventriloquist’s dummies, wax figures, animatrix or robotic figures etc. The word Pediophobia originates from ‘Paidion’ which means ‘little child’ in Greek and ‘Phobos’ meaning fear or deep dread. Many adult sufferers of Pediophobia are also known to fear little children. Some Pediophobes are afraid of all kinds of dolls while others are known to be afraid of only specific kinds like the talking/walking dolls, Chinese porcelain dolls, stuffed dolls etc.
- I found this information about “Pediophobia” on the website (Fearof.net), which it inspired me when making my horror opening sequence ‘DOLLY’. In particular I had a brief understanding of Pediophobia and how its caused, which I used to manipulate the purpose by using a life like doll in my film opening. Pediophobia can also be triggered by a past incident during ones childhood that is connected to dolls, therefore the horrible memory stays in the young mind, forever associating dolls with the trauma and recalls negative feeling experienced then.
Causes of Pediophobia or fear of dolls
Dolls, especially voodoo dolls are associated with witch craft. Burning voodoo dolls to bring misfortune to an individual was a common practice in the past. To an individual already suffering from nervous or anxiety disorders, all dolls represent evil.
Dolls have fixed staring eyes. Some dolls also have button eyes that appear “soulless pools devoid of any emotion akin to those of a corpse”. This can make younger children especially afraid of them.
Dolls have been shown in a negative light in pop culture. Many horror movies (Chucky in Child’s Play) and novels (Althea, Stone Dead etc) have portrayed dolls as evil or villainous characters that come to life to cause harm to humans. This can induce fear in young or overly-nervous minds.
Mischievous older siblings or friends etc can also unknowingly instill a fear of dolls in the minds of younger kids by telling stories of dolls coming to life at night.
- I decided to use my old doll, as it was very ragged and looked creepy, as well as many great horror films are associated with haunted dolls/ toys and young vulnerable children. for instance, films such as Chucky, Annabelle, The boy etc, are all well known horrors that use dolls to fear those that have Pediophobia, including myself as I hate life like dolls, as a kid I thought nothing of them but now I’ve seen horror films like the ones listed above, I feel like there glossy plastic eyes are watching you and following you around the room. In addition, this information about Pediphobia inspired me to make a film opening about a doll and that they aren’t actually that scary when you see what goes on behind the scenes and when your filming in for yourself, controlling the dolls actions.
Symptoms of Pediophobia
Whatever the cause of fear of dolls phobia, there can be intense emotional upheaval and turmoil in the mind of the sufferer. Some people might experience a full blown panic attack upon sighting a doll. Still others live in constant fear of dolls. The following physical and psychological symptoms may be present in the phobic:
- Rapid breathing
- Elevated heartbeat
- Dry mouth. Feeling like being choked to death
- Shivering, trembling
- Freezing on the spot
- Crying, screaming, trying to flee etc.
Some phobics experience a full blown anxiety attack in the presence of dolls including store mannequins. This can be quite embarrassing as well as debilitating enough to affect normal functioning of the individual.
- Yes I am scared of dolls but not to the extent of having a full blown anxiety attack over them, though I understand that these symptoms can apply to those that fear dolls as it is a serious phobia. in addition, those that see advertisements such as trailers or pictures of a horror films featuring a doll may experience these symptoms, as well as those that don’t fear dolls but induce low level symptoms of the phobia.
Treating and overcoming the fear of dolls
Hypnosis and desensitization therapies are the two most popular ways of overcoming the fear of dolls phobia.
Desensitization or gradual exposure therapy consists of slowly exposing the phobic to dolls. They can begin by looking at photographs of dolls, reading books or watching movies about dolls etc until they are able to remain calm in the presence of dolls without having an anxiety attack. This is usually done in the presence of a therapist or can be done at home with the help of close friends and loved ones.
Hypnosis, Cognitive behavior therapy and behavior therapy also aim to reprogram the Pediophobic to help him/her rationalize fearful thoughts about dolls and change them into positive ones.
- Luckily for those that fear these major symptoms can be treated and overcome their fear of dolls, however if we think in a perfect world and this phobia has been treated the need for these films would be outdated and not found as scary. Even though some people have low lying Pediophobia we live in a society where we crave an adrenaline rush , pushing people with different phobias to watch horror films which is very beneficial to my own production.