What Is Plutophobia?

  • Tehreem ImanBachelor of Science - BS, Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science/Research and Allied Professions, University of Sharjah
  • Adeline RankinPostgraduate certificate in clinical education, Clinical education, University of East Anglia, UK

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It may seem paradoxical to believe that some people have a specific dread of wealth in a society where financial achievement is frequently celebrated and sought after. This less well-known occurrence, called plutophobia, explores the complex emotional web that surrounds wealth. To better understand the concept of plutophobia, this article will discuss its causes, symptoms, and possible effects on society.

Plutophobia is an illogical, excessive dread of money. It might manifest as a dread of having money, a fear of wealthy people, or a fear of money itself. As with most phobics, plutophobics feel obliged to avoid the fearful thing at all costs, in this case, money, wealthy people, or a situation that could lead to being affluent, because the anxiety grows as the individual comes closer to the object. Plutophobia is an anxiety disorder.

​​An additional very serious challenge faced by individuals with plutophobia is their dread of affluent people. People who are extremely wealthy are frequently thought of as "crooked," "greedy," or "untrustworthy". Such unfavourable terms could be the cause of plutophobia. It is certainly likely that some people's dread of the wealthy stems from a subconscious evolutionary notion. This makes sense when we consider how strong people—such as kings and dictators—have repressed their populations throughout history.

Understanding plutophobia

The symptoms of plutophobia can range from anxiety to shortness of breath, nausea, and many other symptoms connected to anxiety disorders, depending on the severity of the fear. Panic attacks and other comparable episodes can result from extreme fear. To assist a person lead a more normal everyday life, extreme anxiety can occasionally be controlled with medications. But most of the time, drugs don't really assist control the underlying fear; they just mask the symptoms.

Plutophobia is a type of specific phobia which has a lifetime prevalence of 7.4%.1 With childhood onset for the majority of subtypes and onset in the twenties or later for the situational subtype, it affects women twice as frequently. Even though a specific phobia is a chronic illness, it is typically seen as a moderate ailment. This is due to the fact that anxiety is only present in the specific phobic scenario and is reduced when it is avoided. However, avoidance can negatively impair the sufferer's quality of life and interfere with job and leisure activities.

Differentiating plutophobia from related ideas

It's important to distinguish between emotions such as envy or jealousy, and plutophobia. While plutophobia is characterised by a dislike of riches itself, envy is motivated by a desire for what others have. Furthermore, classism and socioeconomic prejudice should not be confused with plutophobia because they both involve prejudice based on social standing rather than a deep-seated dread of money.

What causes plutophobia

The precise cause of plutophobia is unknown. However, a person's environment and genetics may have a big impact. Given that there are many examples of wealthy monarchs and leaders brutally abusing their subjects in human history, it is certainly conceivable that some people have evolved a strong, irrational fear of wealth.

Looking at the history of plutophobia in a much more recent time frame may suggest that their parents had this problem. It may just require a family history of mental health problems, especially anxiety disorders, for someone to develop this phobia. If your family has a history of mental health problems, you may be genetically predisposed to the condition.

A traumatic event or learned conditioning may cause someone to develop plutophobia in addition to a genetic predisposition y. For instance, someone can have developed a dread of the wealthy after having their money stolen or after being subjected to financial extortion. After such an encounter, the victim can come to distrust all affluent individuals.

Triggers and contributing factors

By simply observing certain wealthy politicians or Hollywood stars who have engaged in behaviour that they find objectionable, they may have also developed plutophobia. This places the blame for their conduct on their money rather than the individuals involved.

These kinds of encounters have the potential to rationalise and deepen their plutophobia. They might fear that if they gained access to big sums of money, this would be as corrupting as the rich individuals they themselves disdain.

The emergence of plutophobia is heavily influenced by cultural and social factors. The frequent oscillation between exaltation and vilification of riches in the media fosters a dichotomy in attitudes towards affluence. Revolutions and class conflicts from the past have influenced how society views money, power relations, and inequality.

A further important factor fostering plutophobia is economic disparity. The extreme divide between those who have wealth and those who are poor, might increase money-related fear and animosity, which reinforces unfavourable impressions.

Symptoms

When among affluent individuals, or even at the notion of themselves becoming wealthy, someone with plutophobia may experience symptoms of anxiety. They might deliberately make choices to avoid moving up the success ladder, such as choosing jobs with relatively low income. 

They might frequently ignore the humanitarian work that some wealthy people have done throughout their lives in favour of concentrating solely on the bad things they have done or might be doing. Regardless of their justifications, individuals who suffer from plutophobia have an unreasonable dread of wealth, and their beliefs are frequently unfounded.

Common symptoms

  • extreme dread around rich people
  • worry when considering wealth
  • spoiling one's own chances
  • claiming to be more moral than the wealthy
  • distrust for the rich
  • choosing low-paying jobs
  • may frequently express disdain about affluent folks

Plutophobia treatment

There is no specific medication available for plutophobia. However, the symptoms of this disease might be lessened with the aid of talking therapies, exposure treatment, and anti-anxiety medications. Talking therapies are available in a wide variety of forms. One example is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which can be effective in treating plutophobia. 

Exposure therapy is another popular type of therapy used to treat anxiety disorders, including phobias like plutophobia. In order for exposure treatment to be effective, the patient must be gradually exposed to their anxiety for a predetermined period of time. The therapist might ask the patient to view images or films of wealthy people in order to alleviate plutophobia. These activities will almost surely make the patient's plutophobia symptoms worse by causing them to feel a lot of intrusive worry and anxiety. However, the objective of exposure treatment is to repeatedly expose the patient to their anxiety in an effort to desensitise them from it. In theory, the object they fear should become less terrifying the more they see it or think about it.

The symptoms of plutophobia may also be lessened with anti-anxiety medication. To assure the efficacy of any medication you decide to take or the safety of any therapy you choose to pursue, however, you should first consult your doctor.

Hypnotherapy is occasionally used to discover the cause of a phobia or to change the person's feelings towards the dreaded object, as well as to assist the sufferer in confronting his concerns, among other things.

Summary

Plutophobia can make it difficult for people to navigate through their day-to-day lives. It could prove to be a hindrance for individuals to have financial stability and work towards lucrative career opportunities. It must be noted that the symptoms can be minimized by effective therapy and treatment.

References

  1. Banurea MA, Effendy E. Specific phobia: a case report of a child with money phobia. In Atlantis Press; 2023 [cited 2023 Aug 21]. p. 140–3. Available from: https://www.atlantis-press.com/proceedings/iconap-22/125985681
  2. The Health Board [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Aug 21]. What is Plutophobia? (With pictures). Available from: http://www.thehealthboard.com/what-is-plutophobia.htm
  3. Plutophobia(Fear of wealth) [Internet]. Psych Times. [cited 2023 Aug 21]. Available from: https://psychtimes.com/plutophobia-fear-of-wealth/

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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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Tehreem Iman

Bachelor of Science - BS, Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science/Research and Allied Professions, University of Sharjah

I am a dedicated undergraduate student pursuing a Medical Laboratory Sciences degree at the prestigious University of Sharjah. I have been a member of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry Newsletter, where I honed my medical writing skills and gained significant experience in conducting interviews. I have promoted cancer awareness as an Overseas Ambassador for the esteemed Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre. In addition, a rewarding internship at the World Wide Fund For Nature and committed community work have helped me to advance my practical expertise.

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