Pentheraphobia means the fear of your mother-in-law. And while fear might not be the word most people would use, a phobia also refers to anxiety produced by the trigger and subsequent avoidance (to which more of us may be able to relate).
Is pentheraphobia real?
A phobia typically refers to an unfounded fear or dislike – and, let’s face it, some mothers-in-law are scary and threatening. (Of course, some are delightful!).
But the fear of one’s mother-in-law can be real for people who suffer from anxiety and who let their in-laws’ behavior or presence affect their lives in negative ways.
Pentheraphobia is not widespread (or widely recognized). While this specific phobia is not in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), general phobias are. And to qualify as a psychiatric disorder, a phobia must produce excessive and persistent fear, induce a state of panic around the trigger, and lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms in order to avoid contact.
According to Its Psychology (cited below): “It is a specific phobia, and it is important to clarify that it differs from a simple dislike or hatred because it can seriously affect the sufferer of the disorder.”
Fear of in-laws
If you’re not a fan of your in-laws or other parental figures, Its Psychology has a few other potential diagnoses to bring up with your doctor:
- Socerafobia (fear of in-laws in general)
- Vitricofobia (fear of the stepfather)
- Novercaphobia (fear of the stepmother)
Suffering from phobias
While fear of one’s mother-in-law may seem amusing in some respects, the symptoms of phobias are no joke. They can include nausea, vomiting, tremors, irregular heartbeat, excessive sweating, and panic attacks. It goes far beyond dread.
Many phobias are believed to be rooted in past psychological trauma. Of course, you don’t have a mother-in-law until later in life, but it’s possible that you can be conditioned from a young age to fear non-blood relatives or pick up on other people’s fear or animosity towards their mothers-in-law. — WTF fun facts