Xylophobia: Why are people afraid of wood?

Xylophobia, also called hilophobia, is the irrational fear of wood. It is estimated that 1-5% of the population suffers from this phobia. Xilophobics experience symptoms such as anxiety, shortness of breath, trembling. Increased heart rate when they are exposed to wood. In severe cases, xilophobics may even experience a panic attack.

Symptoms, causes and treatment of xylophobia

Xilophobia (also called hilophobia) is the irrational fear of wood, its derivatives or materials that imitate it. This fear can therefore occur in front of wooden objects, forests or any place containing wood. Fear of objects that simulate wood can also occur. The word xilofobia comes from the Greek, xýlon which means wood and fobos which means fear.

Like any specific phobia, this fear or irrational fear begins to harm the sufferer when it limits their daily life. For example, people who suffer from this phobia cannot go to any place. Where there is wood (houses, offices, restaurants, museums, etc.). Nor walk or step on parquet or derivative products, continuously avoiding them .

All this considerably limits the life of the person who suffers. Because he must constantly decide which places he can or cannot go. Depending on the possibility of encountering a wooden object or utensil.

At this point, it is advisable to consult a professional to help you overcome this fear and develop your life normally.

Symptoms of xylophobia – fear of wooded areas

Symptoms may appear in the presence of wooden objects or when the person imagines them or imagines themselves in the feared place.

Xylophobia symptoms vary depending on the person and the time. Not all individuals have the same symptoms or suffer with the same severity. Among the most frequent manifestations of phobia usually appear:

Fear or panic.

It is the feeling of discomfort and anxiety before the event or the possibility of a feared situation. There is the normal and adaptive fear that all people experience in the face of certain stimuli. Through these fears, we learn to deal appropriately with difficult, dangerous, or threatening situations.

But at other times, the fear blocks us, we lose control of the situation and the emotion of anxiet. Is maintained even though the person knows that the fear need not be irrational.

At this stage, fear turns into panic and becomes a negative and harmful emotio. As it alters the person’s ability to cope with day-to-day life situations.

Anxiety – Living with this phobia can be difficult

It is a response that is activated in the person in dangerous or threatening situations and will help them deal with them. The problem arises when the anxiety response is not proportional to the threat experienced. In this case, being in a forest or in front of a wooden object should not trigger the anxiety reaction. Because there is no need to run away from the situation because it is not rationally dangerous.

Physiological reactions.

They include all the sensations that the person notices internally. When he is in front of wooden objects or utensils or when he imagines in front of them. These reactions vary by person and time, but the most common are:

Palpitations or tachycardia.

Chest pain and/or pressure.

Difficulty breathing, feeling of suffocation.

Excessive sweating, cold sweats.

Dryness in the mouth and throat.


Intestinal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.

Feeling of vertigo, dizziness.

Feeling of loss of control over the body.

Causes of xylophobia

Often there isn’t just one reason a person develops the phobia, but it’s usually a combination of several factors.

Next, we will name the most common, but it is necessary to take into account. That only one of these factors will not have been the exclusive cause of its appearance.

Traumatic experiences

In the development of specific phobias, there almost always appears a traumatic event. That left a mark on the person due to its severity or which, without being particularly serious, was not properly resolved at the time.

These are usually experiences that took place during childhood and adolescence. Although the person may not remember them or give them importance. It is usually from this time that the fear develops.

In this case, it can be events such as getting lost in a forest. Having a bad experience in a place with lots of trees or being attacked or injured with a wooden utensil.

After having undergone this experience, our brain associates objects of the same material with this traumatic experience. Producing the same discomfort as at the time of this first event.

For example, a person who has been lost in the forest for hours, when returned to a similar place. May experience the same anguish and fear as at that time.

These experiences can also lead to the development of the xylophobia indirectly. That is, if the person sees or informs him of how another person experienced an unpleasant event related to the object of fear.


Often, phobias develop because the child learns to fear the objects or situations feared by his parents or his people of reference.

It is likely that if a child sees how his mother avoids going to a forest or places. Where he is surrounded by trees and also expresses the fear he has in those places, he develops the same response of fear.

Treatment for person who suffers from xylophobia

When the phobia prevents the person from having a normalized life because of the anxiety. It produces and because he must continually avoid certain places and certain objects. It is advisable to seek professional help to do so. to face.

Different treatments have proven effective in treating phobias. Which are the most appropriate depending on the needs of the person and the type of phobia suffered. Some of the most common treatments are:

Cognitive behavioral therapy

This type of treatment is one of the most effective treatments for specific phobias, such as xylophobia.

In this type of therapy, different techniques are used to help the patient understand why the phobia is occurring and how to deal with it. Among the techniques used, the most important are:


It is the process by which the therapist informs the patient of the causes and origins of his phobia. This allows the patient to understand their problem and why it is currently maintained.

Xylophobia Exposure therapy

This technique consists of presenting the patient with the stimuli he fears, in this case in a place populated by trees or in which there are wooden objects and derivatives. Exposure to these stimuli is done in a contracted way by the therapist and with prior preparation for the situation. The exposure is prolonged until the fear of these situations disappears or decreases considerably.

Relaxation techniques.

Continuous muscle tension is a common symptom in states of fear. This tension can be adaptive and help us flee from danger, but in cases where the phobia has developed, this tension is not necessary, because the object we want to flee from does not threaten.

The relaxation response is opposite to the tension response. When the patient learns to relax, he can put it into practice at any time, when the tension generates discomfort.

Systematic desensitization.

This technique consists of exposing the patient to the feared stimuli in combination with relaxation techniques. The patient, together with the therapist, develops a list of the most feared and less important objects.

For example, the handle of a wooden fork, a wooden shovel, a chair, a large piece of furniture, a room with the floor and wooden furniture, etc. until you reach the stimulus that produces the most fear, for example, being in a forest. Once the list is prepared, the patient begins to deal with the first stimulus, either real or imagined.

Until that stimulus doesn’t stop causing the fear symptoms don’t move on to the next one on the list.

Cognitive intervention.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy works on the principle that negative emotions such as fear or anxiety stem from the way the individual interprets situations. In this interpretation, the danger of the situation is often overestimated.

The objective of the cognitive intervention is to lead the patient to question himself about these erroneous interpretations of the situation.

Breathing techniques.

It is a self-control strategy that is used to regulate breathing as it is impaired in panic and anxiety situations. Hyperventilation often occurs, which involves increasing the oxygen in the blood, beyond the levels the body needs.

This hyperventilation appears before the intensity and frequency of breathing. The purpose of breathing techniques is to reduce the symptoms of hyperventilation and bring the situation under control.

Neurolinguistic Programming Techniques (NLP)

This set of techniques aims to understand the internal processes of the person to reprogram the way of communicating in order to change certain beliefs to achieve personal success.

In this case, it is a question of eliminating the feeling of anxiety and discomfort generated by the presence of wooden objects, learning a more adequate way of dealing with this fear.

Hypnosis used to treat the phobia

The objective of this type of treatment is to reach the subconscious of the person by regression and to find the first moment when the fear is generated. The situation and the reason why they developed the trauma are identified.

Once the person is at that point is introduced into the scene an element that can help them cope better or more adequately. It is a question of associating negative manifestations with other more positive ones in order to reduce or even eliminate this irrational fear.

At the end of the process, the individual has control of the situation because he has managed to break the negative link he had with the object or the situation since its first appearance. Sometimes this regression requires going back to childhood moments, which happened many years ago or even if the patient did not remember them.

Drug use

The various investigations and studies carried out on the use of drugs for the treatment of phobias do not give decisive results on their effectiveness.

In any case, what seems clear is that the exclusive use of drugs is not effective for the disappearance of the phobia.

However, drugs such as benzodiazepines or beta-blockers have been used in addition to the techniques explained above. But the studies carried out in this regard seem to indicate that the use of drugs could hinder the therapeutic work of exposure, so its use in treatment is not usual.

Appropriate lifestyle

Whatever treatment you want to choose to combat the xylophobia, there are a series of daily indications that contribute to the general well-being of the person.

The correct execution of these indications will not eliminate the phobia, but will help not to aggravate the symptoms of anxiety and discomfort. Some of the most appropriate behaviors are:

Perform physical exercises frequently and according to our possibilities.

Healthy and varied diet. Drink plenty of water to maintain hydration and flush out toxins.

Sleep well.

Reduce or avoid the consumption of alcohol and / or tobacco.

Reduce caffeine and/or theine consumption.

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Vogue Health Team


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