Gelotophobia: The fear of being laughed at

Michael Titze 1
  • 1 HumorCare, Germany


Gelotophobia may be considered as a specific variant of shame-bound anxiety. It is defined as the pathological fear of being an object of laughter. This fear can be traced back to early childhood experiences of intense and repeated exposure to “put-down,” mockery and ridicule in the course of socialization. Gelotophobes constantly fear being screened by others for evidence of ridiculousness. Thus, they carefully avoid situations in which they feel exposed to others. Gelotophobia at its extreme, therefore, involves a pronounced paranoid tendency, a marked sensitivity to offense, and a resulting social withdrawal (Titze, Die heilende Kraft des Lachens, 1995, Humor & Health Journal 5:1–11, 1996). The origins and consequences of gelotophobia are described, and a model of specific treatment is presented.

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HUMOR, the official publication of the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS), was established over 25 years ago as an international interdisciplinary forum for the publication of high-quality research papers on humor as an important and universal human faculty. The journal publishes original contributions in areas such as interdisciplinary humor research, humor theory, and humor research methodologies.