The Fear of Happiness

The Fear of Happiness

We’ve got papaphobia… the fear of the Pope, globophobia… the fear of balloons, arachibutyrophobia… the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth (same, TBH), and cherophobia… the fear of happiness?


Cherophobia, or this larger concept of fearing happiness and life satisfaction, is one of those things that may sound made up until you remember that time in your life when you were so afraid of the other shoe dropping that you didn’t allow yourself to be happy. In reality, it’s actually a common experience (though perhaps not to the degree of a “phobia”) that is based in cultural and personality differences among people.


First, let’s explore a deeper definition of a phobia: classified under “anxiety disorders” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DMS-5), a phobia is described as


“An overwhelming and debilitating fear or anxiety about an object, place, situation, feeling, or animal. More pronounced than a fear, a phobia develops when the anxiety is out of proportion to the perceived threat’s actual danger.”


It’s important to distinguish that we’re not really talking about cherophobia in this context, because that minimizes the very real distress that those who have true cherophobia experience. But, the experience of fearing happiness is something anyone can experience at different points in their lives.