What Is Gnosiophobia?

  • Vanisha DoshiMasters of Science in Psychology: Mental Health Sciences, Queen Mary University of London


It is often stated that knowledge is powerful, but what if it makes you feel powerless? Gnosiophobia is the fear of knowledge. This is where an individual encounters extreme stress and anxiety while obtaining knowledge and learning something new. A phobia is an intense and irrational fear of a specific object, situation, or circumstance. It's a type of anxiety disorder characterised by a persistent and overwhelming dread of something that is typically not inherently dangerous.1 Phobias can lead to extreme anxiety or panic attacks when the person with the phobia encounters or even thinks about the feared object or situation. When an individual suffers from gnosiophobia, they often avoid contact with books and other individuals around them.2

When trying to understand phobias, it is firstly significant to understand the type of phobia a person could develop:

  • Specific or simple phobias- these are often centred around a specific object, situation, animal, or activity. These often arise through adolescence and potentially become less severe with age.4
  • Complex phobias are often more restrictive than simple phobias. These often develop around adulthood and are often associated with deeper-rooted anxiety or fear regarding a certain situation.4

Many people who suffer from gnosiophobia would fall under the specific phobia category. It allows for the question, ‘What is the cause of glossophobia? Often, people who suffer from gnosiophobia do not necessarily need to be exposed to knowledge to experience gnosiophobia. There could be various reasons why somebody could be suffering from this. For example, traumatic experiences, family history, media influence, or social factors.3

Knowing this allows us to explore the symptomology of glossophobia:


  • Fear of dying1
  • Loss of control1
  • Anxiety1
  • Anger1
  • Mood swings1
  • Hopelessness1


  • Rapid heartbeat1
  • Shortness of breath1
  • Sweating1
  • Nausea1
  • Headaches and dizziness1
  • Feeling faint1
  • Numbness or pins and needles1
  • Confusion1
  • Ringing in your ears1

It is important to note that an individual could be experiencing multiple phobias and other related stressors. As this is a form of anxiety disorder, the symptoms vary in severity. While some individuals may suffer from mild symptoms of phobias that slightly disrupt their daily lives, others could suffer from severe symptoms of phobias that disrupt their daily life and their function.

Getting diagnosed:

It is important to speak to your GP or a mental health professional to discuss your feelings and triggers. They would be able to assess and evaluate your symptoms and discuss your history. It is important that you discuss this with a psychologist or a psychiatrist to ensure that you receive the correct support.4 This process could include the use of assessment tools and questionnaires with the use of the Diagnostic Manual, where there could also be a potential differential diagnosis.

Treatment of gnosiophobia

When treating a phobia like gnosiophobia, the individual may not always feel that they need treatment as they could just avoid it. However, sometimes, avoiding knowledge may not be possible. Hence it is always important to seek professional support when possible. Most phobias are curable, although there is no singular treatment that would work, as this would depend on the severity and suffering of the person who is experiencing gnosiophobia.1

The treatments below are used on most individuals who suffer from a phobia.

Talking therapies, which include counselling, allow you to recognise your thoughts or behaviours and offer strategies for altering them while aiding the process of addressing intricate emotions or discovering methods to coexist with them. It can support you in comprehending and gaining insight into your thoughts and behaviours.3

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): aims to identify the depiction of reality and employ strategies to challenge and overcome these challenging thoughts.1

Exposure therapy: aims to expose the phobic individual to the stimuli that they fear. It is suggested that specific phobias are often maintained through avoidance. Therefore, exposure teaches the individual that they are able to tolerate their fear. There are many forms of exposure therapies, but it is important to discuss this with a mental health professional.2

Other forms of treatment include medication. However, medication should not be taken without the approval of a healthcare professional. Medication for phobias is often not suitable for long-term use. Some medications are prescribed for the short term to support the side effects of having a phobia. These would include anxiety and depression. These are the three medications that are recommended for the treatment of gnosiophobia:1

  1. Anti-anxiety medications  
  2. Antidepressants
  3. Beta-blockers

Self-help strategies

Being able to support yourself and your well-being when suffering from a phobia is essential. Some individuals perform self-help strategies like:

  1. Relaxation techniques
  2. Mindfulness and meditation
  3. Grounding techniques

All of these techniques are often great forms of natural treatment for gnosiophobia. The difference between self-help strategies and therapy or medication is that self-help techniques often take a while to see an outcome, whereas therapy and medication can be instant.1,3


Gnosiophobia is a phobia where an individual is afraid of knowledge. A person who suffers from this form of anxiety disorder can often experience anxiety attacks when encountering books and people around them. Knowing this, there are many treatments that are available to support the individual who suffers from gnosiophobia which include, talking therapies, CBT, medications, and/ or self-help strategies like mindfulness and grounding techniques.

It is always important to seek support if you feel like you are suffering from gnosiophobia or anything else. This could be done by seeking support from your GP or a mental health professional to support you through this challenging time.

Though there is research to support that gnosiophobia does exist, there is always room for more research as gnosiophobia is not recognised in the Diagnostic manual; therefore, some mental health professionals may not diagnose gnosiophobia and could potentially get a different diagnosis.


  1. Fear of knowledge. Gnosiophobia - FearOf.org [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2023 Aug 25]. Available from: https://fearof.org/gnosiophobia/
  2. Raypole, C. Systematic desensitization: can anxiety and phobias be unlearned? Healthline [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2023 Aug 25]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/systematic-desensitization
  3. Everything you should know about gnosiophobia [Internet]. Unacademy. [cited 2023 Aug 25]. Available from: https://unacademy.com/content/ssc/study-material/general-awareness/everything-you-should-know-about-gnosiophobia/
  4. Nhs.uk [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Aug 25]. Overview - phobias. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/phobias/overview/
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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Vanisha Doshi

Masters of Science in Psychology: Mental Health Sciences, Queen Mary University of London

Vanisha is a dedicated professional with a Master of Science in Mental Health Sciences from Queen Mary University of London and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Coventry University. She passionately advocates for mental health through her role as a Medical Article Writer at Klarity Health, where she crafts evidence-based content that raises awareness and combats stigma surrounding mental health issues. Vanisha excels at translating complex research into accessible formats, maintaining precision, industry guidelines, and regulatory compliance. With a background as a Mental Health Recovery Worker, she possesses extensive experience assisting individuals on their path to recovery from conditions such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorders, and substance misuse.

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