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  • Rachel Crawford

Troubled by Christmas Crowds?

Enochlophobia is a fear of crowds. It’s a little different from agoraphobia in that it is the perceived danger of how a crowd might behave that is frightening.

Friday 24 November was so called ‘Black Friday’ it originated from the day after thanksgiving being the start of Christmas shopping. Many retailers in U.K. use this date to generate sales.

For someone with Enochlophobia the idea of Xmas shopping and crowds is very frightening.

There is a difference in how people behave in crowds, a crowd of people may start to exhibit unwanted group behaviour, doing something because ‘everyone else is’ this is called the ‘bandwagon effect’ or ‘herd mentality’ and so crowds may act in a way that individual members of the crowd wouldn’t normally do. A crowd trying to reach sale items in a store may push, shove others and grab stuff when individually a person would see this as unacceptable to their moral code.

This makes crowds unpredictable and scary. Crowds can make us lose our sense of self and make us become impulsive.

Crowd behaviour is more like our primitive mind when individually we’d be in our intellectual mind when shopping.

Some theories of why crowds behave differently.

Contagion theory is when we ‘are infected’ with the crowd mentality ‘everyone else was doing it’ reductive I know)

Convergence theory is that people came together because they wanted to act in a certain way, think protests and ‘strength in numbers’ mentality

So is enochlophobia actually a phobia or a rational fear?

As ever with my model of clinical hypnotherapy, you, the client will define your reaction to an event (crowds) as useful to them or really unhelpful to them. Do you avoid things you’d like to do because you imagine the threat to be more severe than it is? For example do you avoid amusement parks from fear of the crowds? Amusement park crowds tend to have a commonality of purpose that’s rather benign and cheerful, as do concerts, these are events where the crowd are there specifically to be happy.

If you experience fear and avoid the situation but wish you didn’t, we may be able to help.

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