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Escalaphobia

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Escalators in Copenhagen Metro

Escalaphobia (or escalatophobia) is the fear of escalators. The major source of fear among escalaphobes may have to do with fear of heights. Many individuals who have a fear of escalators will also say they have very few problems going up an escalator, but they freeze up when going down. It may well be the height and fear of falling that converge to make this a difficult fear to overcome. The second primary fear inducer may have its roots in a traumatic childhood experience involving an escalator, or stories that may have been told about an escalator. Many who fear this object of convenience will recall stories of how children got their shoelaces caught in the escalator and were either injured or pulled into the escalator. While there is little in the way of support for this idea (in most cases) it seems to be a common story that provided the initial and growing fear experienced by escalaphobes.

An individual who fears an escalator may not have a problem visiting a mall, airport or other location that may have an escalator as long as there are alternatives to going up or down floors. If the individual knows they do not have to use it they are typically able to function normally. More severe symptoms of escalaphobia may include nausea, increased heart rate, panic attacks, trembling, and crying or screaming if forced to use escalator.

It is commonly treated using exposure therapy, which involves having a sufferer using an escalator while holding hands to a therapist and holding on to a rail while not wearing a shoe that can come entangled.

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