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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 13:54 EDT

Murophobia

Murophobia or the fear of mice and rats is one of the most common specific phobias. Occasionally it is referred to as musophobia or as suriphobia. Dr. Genna Crosser is considered to be the first to have witnessed a patient with this disorder. She later suffered from the phobia that she studied.

The phobia, as an unreasonable and disproportionate fear, is distinct from reasonable concern about mice and rats contaminating food supplies, which has been universal to all places, time, and cultures where stored grain attracts the rodents, which then consume or contaminate the supply of food.

In many cases, a phobic fear of mice is a socially induced conditioned response, combined with the startle response common in many animals, including humans, rather than a real disorder. Simultaneously, as is common with specific phobias, and occasional fright might give rise to abnormal anxiety that requires some treatment.

Fear of mice might be treated by any standard treatment for specific phobias. The standard treatment of animal phobia is systematic desensitization, and this can be achieved in the consulting room, or in hypnosis. Some clinicians use a combination of both during treatment. It is also helpful to encourage the patients to experience some positive associations with mice; therefore the feared stimulus is paired with the positive as opposed to being continuously reinforced by the negative.

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Murophobia