What is Autophobia?

Malcolm Tatum

Sometimes referred to as monophobia, autophobia is a paralyzing fear of being left alone. People with this type of emotional condition are often unable to rest comfortably unless someone is relatively close, such as in another room of the home. In extreme conditions, a person suffering with this phobia must have someone in the same room during all waking hours or the individual will begin to experience extreme attacks of anxiety, regurgitation and other severe physical and emotional reactions.

Autophobia refers to a paralyzing fear of being left alone.
Autophobia refers to a paralyzing fear of being left alone.

A broader autophobia definition involves not on the fear of being physically alone, but also a sense of being unable to trust oneself in any setting. Within the context of this understanding of the phobia, an individual must have a caretaker nearby at all times. The second party functions as a guardian that, in the mind of the autophobic, will be able to compensate or correct any foolish or unpleasant actions that may take place. Without this guardian nearby, the autophobic feels lost and unable to function even in a public setting with many people around.

Someone with autophobia may have a heightened fear of experiencing some catastrophe, such as being buried alive in an earthquake.
Someone with autophobia may have a heightened fear of experiencing some catastrophe, such as being buried alive in an earthquake.

Common autophobia symptoms include a constant sense of impending danger whenever another trusted individual is not within easy reach. Often, the autophobic will also have a heightened fear of experiencing some catastrophe with no one there to save him or her from a terrible fate. This often includes a fear of naturally occurring events ranging from being struck by lightning to being buried alive in an earthquake. It is not unusual for an individual suffering from this condition to also have an extreme fear of being burglarized or experiencing a heart attack when no one is nearby to help them through the crisis.

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Cognitive behavioral therapy may be helpful for someone who is suffering from autophobia.
Cognitive behavioral therapy may be helpful for someone who is suffering from autophobia.

Effective autophobia treatment often involves a combination of therapy and medication. Anti-anxiety medication can sometimes help to calm the overwhelming sense of fear an autophobic faces during an episode. Therapy can assist the sufferer to explore the underlying causes for the phobia and defuse them over time. Therapeutic techniques such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT, can also begin the process of changing behavioral responses to situations that trigger the extreme suffering and fear experienced by people suffering with autophobia.

Autophobia generally arises due to a traumatic experience.
Autophobia generally arises due to a traumatic experience.

Since this type of phobia normally is the result of some type of traumatic experience, it is important for loved ones to be supportive as the treatments begin. As with many phobias, treating autophobics involves a process that sometimes seems to move forward quickly and at other times slow to a crawl or even lose ground. Loved ones should keep in mind that successfully overcoming any phobia is different from healing a broken bone, in that the rate of progress will vary from one day to the next. Patience, reassurance of their personal worth, and encouragement to stick with the therapy can go a long way in helping the autophobic to eventually be free from the phobia.

Hypnosis may help treat autophobia.
Hypnosis may help treat autophobia.
Someone who is autophobic might fear being struck by lightning when alone.
Someone who is autophobic might fear being struck by lightning when alone.

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Discussion Comments


I suffer from an extremely bad form of autophobia. When my parents (especially my mom) leave for extended periods at a time (even if, it is one day), I get extremely anxious (and, yes I take pills for anxiety) and even begin to cry like a baby, needing my mom and when it is really bad, I will be crying for my dad, also! I have to move into subsidised housing for the handicapped and disabled with just my cat, and when I can get a prescription, a champion dog over 10 pounds, but I'm really hoping I can get a 24/7 human companion service, because pets are not going to surface. I just can't have a human companion "living" with me.

I also have anxiety with a physical illness thinking about how long I will have to live after my mom dies. That is crippling, depressing and the thing that scares me the most. My mind won't let me not think about it, so I am exhausted all the time!


Add this on: I heard that Autophobia is sometimes caused by trauma and wanted to put out there that I haven't really had any significant traumas so that wouldn't be the cause.


I'm a little confused on whether I have autophobia or not. It's not extreme, as in I don't have trouble breathing or need to be in the same room with someone all the time. However, I can't stand being home alone, and if I get home to an empty house, I always call one of my parents to check in with them, and then have to get on the phone with a friend until someone arrives home. During the afternoon and day, I'll constantly be with my babysitter, parents, or siblings whenever possible, but I do stay up late so end up spending time alone in my room normally starting at 11. When I am in my room at night, I have to be listening to music constantly, as any silence, abnormal lights or noises will cause me to start getting really anxious. My heart starts beating really fast and I get jumpy so I have to turn on my lights, and I usually end up watching some sort of video while texting a friend (luckily I have a friend with a habit of staying up until at least 3 a.m. every night and keeps her cell phone close.) I also have to have my bathroom light on at night because I get nervous if I'm unable to see my entire room. My room doesn't have to be fully lit, just bright enough for me to dimly see it.

Admittedly, I am only 13, so I'm not sure if I actually have autophobia, or if I just have a few minor other fears that I'm not aware of. It could just be that I'm young, and the internet can mislead you, but I want to see if I'm autophobic, so I can take further actions if necessary. Some other things I have noticed are that I normally have some dream where the rest of my family dies and I end up being orphaned in some way probably every two weeks(give or take a few) and I'm not sure whether that's normal or not.

I also have a strong dependency on sound for comfort. Like I mentioned earlier, I use headphones to constantly play music if I'm alone, and I talk almost nonstop with people in public and always feel awkward whenever a room of people becomes silent. This nonstop talking is also causing another problem where no one listens to me because I often talk about pointless stuff after running out of things to discuss. This also makes me a horrible friend (not sure about that one) I also use online gaming as a way of socialization if I'm bored or can't reach any friends that I know in real life.

So, can anyone tell if I have autophobia or not? Repeating this, I'm barely a teen, so it could just be that I might be a little paranoid. Let me know what you think. Thanks.


When you guys say 'afraid of yourself,' can you please explain? I don't understand. An example would be very helpful.


I have suffered from autophobia for years, although, until recently, I didn't know what was causing the horrible fear and anxiety. Mine started after my third child was born. I could see me doing horrible things to my children and I cried and was so afraid to be around them. It was like I didn't know myself and was scared of the possibility of hurting them.

It has come and gone throughout my life, especially when extremely stressful situations occurred. The last few days it has reared its ugly head up again and I'm struggling to find ways to get rid of it forever. I have an appointment with a counselor next week and hope to sort all this mess out. What a hell of a life I've been through. Loving my kids so much and so afraid of hurting them.


Autophobia: An overwhelming sense of dependence on the company of others, characterized by a strong sense of fear, even though no reason for said fear exists.

I wonder what would happen if a socially phobic (like me) person and an autophobe were put in the same room. Would they cancel each other out?


What are some statistics on this phobia?


This is very true of what I have. Thanks for writing it.


That exactly describes me. If I'm alone for over an hour, I start freaking out and I start hearing stuff and believe that someone is watching me.


thank you for putting it into words!


I'm not so much afraid of myself, but more of being by myself. I too can't sleep until I know someone is home and I have seen them or hear a familiar voice.

My parents first realized something was wrong when they came home one day and I had locked myself in the bathroom because I was hearing noises. (It was a typical fetal position in the corner.)

Ever since, even now five years later, I can't even sleep when someone isn't there. I could have people in the house, but if they aren't close enough, I'll have an anxiety attack.

Until now though, I didn't know that the fact that when I hear a noise or see a passing light in a window that I freak out because of it.

I don't know what started it, but I would also like to express my relief at knowing I'm not the only one who suffers.


Well, I'm really not sure if I have a phobia. I have depression and I just went through a really tough year last year. My friend who I've been friends with for four years said all these bad things to me, and apparently she hadn't liked me for months and didn't say anything.

I moved two years ago, and I only talked to her on the phone and over the computer. So of course I couldn't hear her voice or anything. I'm getting off track.

Anyway, it was a traumatic experience for me, the worst thing to ever happen to me in my life. I began having panic attacks every night for two months (now it's only about once a week). But they only happen when I'm alone. All the thoughts going through my head are: "I don't deserve love. I'm all alone in the world and I shouldn't suck someone into that and have them be alone too. They're just going to leave me. Everybody will and they'll all hate me. I don't know how anyone loves me. I hate being alone. I need someone. I need anyone. Please don't let me be alone." Whoa! Where did the part about not deserving love come from?

Before I moved I was fine, afterward I was bummed. Then when that happened, I became even more depressed and then, you know. These thoughts don't seem like they're mine! And I've though them so much that I think just maybe they're true. I really hope I don't have this phobia, but I know I probably do.


well i definitely know the feeling, but not to the extent of an attack. only today i have been more scared than usual. i wondered if it was a phobia. i never knew any different. i thought that every one feels like this or that i was just being a kook. I'm not sure how to feel at the moment. i am 19 and this is the longest i have ever been alone for.


I also suffer badly from autophobia. I never married and only have one family member left. I split up with my girlfriend a while back and spent too much time on my own at home and I think this probably set the seed for my problem. Although we still see each other the damage has been done.


It is nice to know this is real and that it is not just in my own head only.

I have discovered that I have not been able to sleep alone whatsoever. I thought it was insomnia, but I sleep just fine when somebody is with me. I have noticed I will wring my hands or get stressed and anxious when alone in a room and I will not sleep at all until I have people who have woken up in the house and I can clearly hear them about or they are in the living room so I sleep on the couch.

This has become a problem, but due to my over medicated self a year back or so I have been reluctant to do anything for it.

Glad to know it's real and I'm not alone though.


I can totally relate. My anxiety attacks started two years ago, right after I found out about my husband's infidelity. It was just the last thing in a string of awful events that just pushed me over the edge.

I had thoughts that I couldn't control, but I needed my husband there to calm me down and also it made me feel better so, in my mind, I wouldn't do anything "crazy". Xanax helped. Eventually it got better.

I had another attack last year and then one just recently. Obviously it seems like they happen every year and they are usually due to some traumatic event. It's a really scary feeling to feel like you can't control your own thoughts and feeling like you can't be around your own children because you fear yourself. I just started taking xanax again and have decided to start going to behavioral therapy to deal with the things that I guess I had thought I was strong enough to deal with on my own.

It feels a lot better knowing I'm going to help myself and hopefully get over this.


So then autophobia is related to separation anxiety, or in adults -- adult separation anxiety.

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