There's something lurking in the shadows, something that scares us all a little. No, it's not a monster under the bed or a ghost in the closet. It's something more real and, for some, more terrifying. It is nature itself. Yes, you heard right. More and more people, especially those living in urban areas, suffer from a fear of nature, a phenomenon researchers call “biophobia.”
Biophobia: Fear of nature
Biophobia combines different fears associated with nature. Among them we find zoophobia (fear of animals), anthophobia (fear of flowers) or even hylophobia (fear of trees). These phobias, although different, have one thing in common: they are all related to nature.
According to a study(1) Conducted by researchers at the University of Turku in Finland, the prevalence of these phobias tends to increase. To reach this conclusion, they analyzed the content of our Internet searches. In fact, it is quite plausible that people suffering from a form of biophobia would use the Internet to evaluate their condition and determine ways to deal with it.
Fear of nature: an issue for city dwellers?
The study looked at 25 different forms of biophobia. It appears that interest has increased in at least 17 of these nature-related phobias. More precisely, researchers note that the prevalence of biophobia is More important in countries with larger urban populations.
Some biophobias, such as trypophobia, have evolutionary origins. They may have helped our ancestors avoid contact with dangerous organisms. However, these findings mostly support previous hypotheses suggesting a link between urban living and disconnection from nature, due to the extinction of natural experiences. This eventually leads to fear and disgust towards other life forms.
Consequences of biophobia
These reactions can negatively impact people's well-being, but also have consequences for how people perceive and support nature conservation in their environment. In fact, fear and disgust toward nature can lead to decreased commitment to environmental conservation.
The last word
Biophobia is a growing reality, especially in urban areas. This fear of nature, although sometimes justified by real dangers (such as arachnophobia), can have harmful consequences for our well-being and our relationship with the environment. It is therefore essential to understand and combat this fear, for the sake of our mental health and our planet.
Fear of flowers, trees or nature? Discover biophobia, the new urban epidemic!