What Is Aichmophobia?

  • Olga GabrielMaster's degree, Forensic Science, Uppsala University, Sweden

Although most of us have a fear of sharp objects or knives, it can be said to be almost normal. But what happens when the fear of sharp objects becomes more than usual and tends to take over a major part of your life?

Then it becomes known as aichmophobia.

What is aichmophobia?

Aichmophobia is a specific phobia characterized by an intense and irrational fear of sharp objects. Individuals who suffer from aichmophobia experience extreme anxiety and distress when exposed to or even thinking about sharp objects such as knives, needles, scissors, or even pencils. This fear can have a significant impact on their daily lives, leading to avoidance behaviors. 

Definition and overview

Aichmophobia is a combination of the Greek words "aichm," which means "point" or "sharp," and "phobos," which means "fear." It is classified as a specific phobia, which is an excessive fear of a particular object or situation.

The exact cause of aichmophobia is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Traumatic experiences, such as accidents or witnessing injuries involving sharp objects, may contribute to the development of aichmophobia.

Examples of sharp objects

Sharp objects are any object that can graze the surface of the skin and cause harm. Examples of such objects include:


Knives are one of the most common sharp objects associated with aichmophobia. The sight of a knife, even in everyday settings like in a kitchen, can trigger intense fear and anxiety for individuals with this phobia.


Needles used for medical procedures or injections are another common trigger for individuals with aichmophobia. The fear of needles can lead to avoidance of necessary medical treatments and procedures.


Scissors, commonly used for cutting paper or fabric, can evoke fear in individuals with aichmophobia. The sharp blades of scissors may be perceived as potential sources of harm or injury.

Pencils and pens

In some cases, even seemingly harmless objects like pencils or pens can trigger fear in individuals with aichmophobia. The sharp tips of these writing instruments may be associated with the potential for harm.

Possible causes of aichmophobia

Aichmophobia, the intense fear of sharp objects, can be influenced by various factors. While the exact cause of this phobia is not fully understood, several potential causes have been identified. Here are three possible causes of aichmophobia:

Traumatic experience

Direct trauma 

Aichmophobia can develop as a result of a traumatic experience involving sharp objects. For example, individuals who have suffered from a stabbing or cutting incident may develop a fear and associated anxiety towards sharp objects due to the emotional impact of the event.

Witnessing trauma

Observing or witnessing a traumatic event involving sharp objects, such as an accident or assault, can also contribute to the development of aichmophobia. The fear response may be triggered by the fear-inducing event itself or the association of sharp objects with the traumatic experience.

Learned behaviour


Aichmophobia can be learned through observation and imitation. If a person with a significant influence, such as a family member or close friend, displays a fear of sharp objects, it can be passed on to others who observe and internalize that fear response.

Vicarious learning 

Media, such as movies, TV shows, or news reports, can also contribute to the development of aichmophobia. Excessive exposure to graphic or violent content involving sharp objects can create a fear response, especially in individuals who are more susceptible to anxiety or phobias.

Genetic predisposition

Family history 

There may be a genetic component to the development of aichmophobia. Individuals with a family history of anxiety disorders or specific phobias may be more prone to developing aichmophobia themselves.

Biological factors 

Certain genetic traits or neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain may contribute to the development of anxiety disorders, including phobias like aichmophobia. However, further research is needed to fully understand the specific genetic mechanisms involved.

Common symptoms of aichmophobia

Aichmophobia can manifest in various symptoms that individuals may experience when confronted with or even thinking about sharp objects. These symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe anxiety. Here are some common symptoms associated with aichmophobia:


Intense fear 

Individuals with aichmophobia often experience an overwhelming sense of fear or terror when exposed to sharp objects or the thought of them. This fear may be disproportionate to the actual threat posed by the objects.

Excessive worry 

Aichmophobia can lead to persistent and excessive worry about encountering sharp objects in day-to-day life. Individuals may constantly anticipate situations where they might come into contact with such objects, leading to heightened anxiety.

Panic attacks

Sudden onset

Aichmophobia can trigger panic attacks, which are intense episodes of fear and distress. Panic attacks may occur spontaneously or in response to the sight or proximity of sharp objects.

Physical symptoms 

During a panic attack, individuals may experience symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, trembling or shaking, sweating, dizziness, and a sense of impending doom.

Avoidance behaviour

Avoiding sharp objects 

Aichmophobia often leads individuals to avoid situations or places where sharp objects are present. This can include avoiding kitchens, avoiding certain tools or utensils, or even avoiding specific environments where sharp objects may be commonly found.

Social avoidance 

Aichmophobia can cause individuals to withdraw from social activities or gatherings where they fear encountering sharp objects. This can lead to feelings of isolation and limitation in daily life.



Individuals with aichmophobia may feel restless or on edge when exposed to sharp objects or situations where those objects are present.


Aichmophobia can heighten an individual's sense of alertness and vigilance, constantly scanning their surroundings for potential sharp objects.

Physical reactions

Nausea or upset stomach 

The fear and anxiety associated with aichmophobia can cause stomach discomfort, nausea, or even digestive issues.

Sweating and slamminess 

When faced with sharp objects, individuals with aichmophobia may experience excessive sweating and clammy hands.

Trembling or shaking 

Physical tremors, such as shaking hands or trembling limbs, can occur as a result of heightened anxiety.

Coping strategies and treatment

Aichmophobia can significantly impact an individual's daily life. However, there are effective coping strategies and treatment options available to help manage and overcome this phobia. Here are some commonly used approaches: 

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive restructuring 

CBT helps individuals identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs associated with sharp objects. By replacing irrational thoughts with more realistic and balanced ones, it can reduce anxiety and fear.

Exposure and response prevention 

Gradual exposure to sharp objects in a controlled and safe environment allows individuals to confront their fears. Through repeated exposure, they can learn that their anxiety decreases over time, helping to break the cycle of fear and avoidance.

Exposure therapy

Systematic desensitization 

This therapy technique involves gradually exposing individuals to increasingly intense stimuli related to sharp objects. It helps them build resilience and reduce anxiety by gradually increasing their tolerance for fear-inducing objects.

Virtual reality exposure 

Virtual reality technology can simulate real-life scenarios involving sharp objects in a controlled environment. This exposure therapy allows individuals to face their fears in a safe and guided manner.

Relaxation techniques

There are a couple of relaxation techniques that can help with phobias. They include;

Deep breathing 

Practicing deep breathing exercises can help reduce anxiety and induce a sense of calmness when confronted with sharp objects or anxiety-inducing situations.

Progressive muscle relaxation 

This technique involves systematically tensing and relaxing different muscle groups, promoting relaxation and alleviating physical tension associated with fear.

Support system

Engaging with a support system, such as friends, family, or support groups, can provide emotional support and understanding. Sharing experiences with others who have similar struggles can be comforting and empowering.

Apart from a strong support system, working with a good mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychologist, can provide specialized guidance and support tailored to the individual's needs.


In some cases, anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to help manage the symptoms of aichmophobia. This can include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or benzodiazepines, which can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. These medications are usually prescribed by a GP or a qualified Mental Health doctor.


Aichmophobia can be a challenging phobia to navigate. However, with the right coping strategies and treatment, it is possible to overcome this fear and regain control over daily life. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, relaxation techniques, support systems, and, in some cases, medication can all play a role in managing and overcoming aichmophobia. It is also important to seek professional help to tailor a treatment plan that suits individual needs. Over time, with patience and support, individuals can successfully overcome their fear and lead a fulfilling life.


  1. Verywell Mind [Internet]. [cited 2023 Sep 24]. Fear of sharp objects is a thing, and it’s called aichmophobia. Available from: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-fear-of-sharp-objects-2671773
  2. HopeQure. HopeQure. [cited 2023 Sep 24]. Hopequre Wellness Solutions Pvt. Ltd. Available from: https://www.hopequre.com/blogs/aichmophobia
  3. Aichmophobia: what is it, causes, diagnosis, and more | osmosis [Internet]. [cited 2023 Sep 24]. Available from: https://www.osmosis.org/answers/aichmophobia
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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On-Emore Akpevwe

Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery - MBBS, Medicine and Surgery, Delta State University (NG)

Hi, I'm Akpevwe, a Medical Doctor who has always loved writing and enjoyed writing as a hobby for many years.

I am particularly interested in writing about healthcare and medical topics, and hope to use my background in medicine to provide unique insights and perspectives.

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As a medical doctor and a writer, I'm passionate about using storytelling to educate, inform, and inspire and connect with other writers. Whether it's through fiction or non-fiction, I believe that writing has the power to connect people and make a positive impact on the world.

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