Pediophobia, also known as the fear of dolls, is a relatively common kind of phobia. It is an anxiety that can be associated with a range of dolls from old-fashioned china dolls and porcelain dolls to dolls that talk and move. Pediophobia is considered a branch of automatonophobia, or a fear of humanoid figures.
Causes of pediophobia
There are many theories connected to the possibility of how pediophobia is caused. Some of these reasons include external events, heredity, as well as psychological tendencies and brain chemistry. The most common reason given however would be that a traumatic experience in the past that associates dolls to fear and anxiety in a person.
The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud claimed that children fantasize about dolls coming to life. Psychologist Ernst Jentsch theorized that uncomfortable or uncanny feelings arise when there is an intellectual uncertainty about whether an object is alive or not, and also when an object that one knows to be inanimate resembles a living being enough to generate confusion about its nature. Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori expanded on Freud and Jentsch's theories to develop the "uncanny valley" hypothesis.
The uncanny valley is a fundamental portion in the theory of why humans fear non-living objects such as dolls. The theory explains that as an object, such as a robot, moves towards becoming more familiar in human likeness from its functionality, it slowly becomes more popular because of familiarization to the object from the standpoint of a person. However, there is a huge gap from this point to a regular healthy human and that is the uncanny valley. This span of space is where things which lose their similarities to humans goes but as soon as it become more human-like it suddenly has a spike into a more positive response from people.
A person with pediophobia would usually hide any dolls they encounter or refuse to go near them. If they would get near a doll they might feel embarrassment to their reaction, trembling, an elevated heart rate, inability to speak or think clearly, panic, dread, breathlessness, crying, and nausea. In worse cases an individual would have a loss of control or anger, heart palpitations, a sensation of detachment from reality, or a full-blown anxiety attack.
There are many forms of treatment for a person who has a phobia. One treatment is hypnotherapy; that helps to redirect subconscious thoughts, which are probably a part of the fear. Another is neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) in which the phobia is studied from the point of view of how an individual views reality and this point of view is refigured. Other treatments include psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, relaxation strategies, and medication.