Definition of Aichmophobia

Definition of Aichmophobia
Written By: Counselling Psychologist
M.Sc. Psychology - Swansea University, UK.
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 05-01-2023

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Have you ever had an irrational fear of sharp objects?
Fear of sharp objects even a small pen/pencil exaggerates fear in you?

Although most of us have a fear of knives, needles, and sharp objects. It makes sense too because no one wants to cut their finger while chopping up vegetables or stab their toe with a falling knife. However, for some people when it leads to extreme fear at every point in their day-to-day routine. In that case, they may have a phobia called aichmophobia.

What is Aichmophobia?

Aichmophobia Definition: Aichmophobia is an extreme and irrational phobia of sharp, pointed objects. Those affected by aichmophobia may feel anxious, worried, and fearful about any sharp object, which could cause harm. This could include pencils, pens, needles, pins, scissors, and other household items. 

Therefore, if you are, someone having such a fear this may lead to experiencing a very high amount of anxiety from merely thinking of sharp objects. Your anxiety may be so intense that you may even endure a full-blown panic attack because of it. Although such an influx of anxiety will not always be the case for everyone suffering from aichmophobia, it is still very plausible to occur nonetheless.

Aichmophobia in individuals may look like going to the extent of avoiding the situation totally where sharp objects are present. Or, it may be observed in their thoughts about having the fear of cutting or stabbing themselves or someone else.

Different individuals have different fears

People show aichmophobia in different ways. Some fear only big knives like the knives used by chefs or in restaurants, some fear small knives and pens, pencils. Some people fear only when they see sewing machines as they feel the needle piercing their skin. Likewise, there are various other sharp objects like geometrical scales, big structures having pointed ends, etc. which people with aichmophobia can fear of.

Let us study Aichmophobia s cause, its symptoms, and its treatment.

Causes of Aichmophobia

Like any other phobia, there is no definite cause of aichmophobia. Rather than that, someone suffering from the condition may have witnessed a traumatic incident involving a sharp object, such as a painful medical procedure or an accident involving a sharp object. The person had endured the incident first-hand or could even have simply witnessed the event, and that was all it took to instill fear. A person may also be genetically predisposed to developing phobia, or he or she may have iatrophobia, which is a phobia of extreme medical fear. 

The aichmophobia cause may, in short, be discussed in terms of bio-psycho-social factors as the cause can be pregenetic disposal along with having some physical symptoms like high BP, increased heart rate, etc., and also supported by unsupportive social background. Having another psychological disorder like OCD also makes a person vulnerable to aichmophobia.

Symptoms of Aichmophobia

The symptoms of Aichmophobia are very similar to other specific phobias and will often include:

  • Feelings of Panic, Dread, or Terror
  • Inability to Relax
  • Avoiding Medical Procedures
  • Problems Concentrating
  • Being short-tempered
  • Feelings of dizziness
  • Aches & Pains
  • Fatigued Muscles
  • Dry and Sticky mouth
  • Sweating Excessively
  • Breathlessness
  • Migraines and Headaches
  • Poor Quality of Sleep

In more severe cases, there can also be a vasovagal response i.e., a sharp decrease in heart rate or blood pressure. This may result in the individual fainting.

In general terms, the symptoms may more or less look like a panic attack.

Diagnosis of Aichmophobia

The symptoms of a phobia can be observed and understood by anyone. But, Diagnosing it so that treatment could be taken requires the help of a certified practitioner like a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist. It is always advised to go for the authentic diagnosis as sometimes people go for help on the internet or any person with little idea which can result in aggravating the symptom and not getting the correct help.

The diagnosis procedure involves a general consultation and then going for diagnostic assessments.

Aichmophobia Test:

  • DSM-V diagnostic criteria for phobias used in the aichmophobia test - marked fear involving a stimulus, fear out of proportion to the stimulus, avoidance of the stimulus, and impaired day-to-day functioning for a duration longer than 6 months. In addition, this behavior cannot be explained by another condition.
  • Anxiety assessment scales are also used for the aichmophobia test- as while diagnosing phobia, anxiety assessment is necessary to understand the underlying factor.
  • Phobia or panic disorder assessment scales can be also used in the aichmophobia test - to understand the severity level of the disorder.

Treatment of Aichmophobia

The treatment procedure should be done with guidance from a trained person like a psychologist. Like other specific phobias, the most commonly used type of treatment for aichmophobia is a type of psychotherapy called exposure therapy. Exposure therapy works by helping you change your response to sharp, pointed objects so you are less afraid of them. The process of exposure therapy includes increasing the anxiety of the individual by exposing them to the feared object and not allowing them to expose to the situation.

Exposure therapy includes systematic desensitization where the individuals are first relaxed and then exposed to the feared object. There are other methods like flooding, in-vivo, and in-vito exposure, etc. 

You may start your exposure therapy sessions by first looking at pictures of knives, then in the same room as a knife, holding a knife, and then using a knife to cut food. Scientists have recently begun exploring the potential of virtual reality to help expose people with phobias to their fears in a safe and controlled manner.

There are also other ways to deal with the phobia which include modification of the environment and also of behavior as aichmophobia can also result in injuries as people with this fear can face difficulty in handling sharp objects.

Impact of aichmophobia on daily life

Nobody can go about their life without making use of any sharp object. We use a variety of objects daily. Objects like knives, pens, pencils, scissors, etc. Therefore, aichmophobia can make the life of the individual with this fear very difficult as they will not want to use knives and so cooking food gets difficult. Writing is usually an important part for most people and so not using pens, or pencils is a task. Hence, we can say that basic, everyday activities are impacted if someone is diagnosed with aichmophobia.

All the mentioned difficulties can make life difficult which in turn can affect a person’s mental health and so getting help becomes essential for an individual with aichmophobia.


Aichmophobia can be defined as an irrational or extreme fear of sharp objects like knives, needles, scissors, etc. The causes are not specific but they can be caused due to an encounter with a traumatic event. Symptoms look like an increased heart, shortness of breath, palpitations, trembling, and signs like anxiety. People can show their fears in various forms like fear of only big knives, needles, etc. Aichmophbia can be diagnosed only with the help of a professional and should not be done with the help of the internet. Its treatment is available and once diagnosed people should reach out to professionals for help. 

People with aichmophobia require good support as they may injure themselves as they are very speculative about sharp objects which makes them mishandle those objects.

HopeQure says

If you feel that you have aichmophobia and you don’t know how to deal with your fear, you may want to consult a professional to try and get help. HopeQure counselors provide online counselling and are available to help you cope with the distress and discomfort that is usually caused by such a condition. Do not let aichmophobia run your life and rob you of your ability to participate in daily activities.

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Aichmophobia - Cleveland Clinic

Aichmophobia Definition - Wikipedia

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