Is It Possible to Fear Happiness or Pleasure? Let’s Find Out

By Beatriz Martinez

reviewed by amadou barrow

Cherophobia and hedonophobia refer to the irrational feelings of fearing happiness and pleasure respectively. These feelings can trigger health disorders such as anxiety, and can be detrimental to our overall wellness.


What is cherophobia?

Cherophobia, or the fear of happiness, can be a defense mechanism to avoid trauma or painful situations. Happiness is greater when shared. Although it’s very important to feel happy with ourselves and be emotionally independent, once we find someone to share our happiness with, the feeling can be more pleasant. There are situations in which maintaining our relationships does not only depend on us; a painful breakup with our partner or having close friends distancing themselves from us are challenging emotional situations that we might experience. Those painful events can be traumatizing and, therefore, can lead to a fear of experiencing happiness again in the future. 

You might be asking: What if I meet someone else and I experience the same pain all over again? Why should I start a relationship with somebody if it might just end in another heartbreak? Or what is the point of creating new friendships if I have to experience losing them at some point in the future? The same can be applied to our careers. If we’ve had negative experiences in our previous jobs, we might actually be wondering if it’s worth it to try to find a job again even though there is a possibility of experiencing the demotivating feeling of frustration that we’ve had before. Our past experiences can define how we handle future life changes and the happiness they can bring. Cherophobia can also be experienced in social events. You might be looking forward to meeting friends, but at the same time, you experience anxiety because you fear unpleasant experiences that you may run into over the course of the friendship. 

Happiness is perceived differently around the world. In Japanese culture, for example, being happy also carries negative aspects in some way, as it can also cause suffering in the long run. Therefore, some Asian cultures believe that there should be a limit to one’s happiness in order to avoid future adversity.


What is hedonophobia?

Hedonophobia refers to the fear of feeling pleasure. A fear of experiencing joy and pleasure can develop due to one’s culture, religion, or past experiences. Perhaps you associate certain activities (dancing, wearing certain clothes, etc.) with things that are “wrong”, because that’s what you were taught. Thus, if you’re headed to a party, you may feel afraid or guilty of what might happen if you actually enjoy yourself. The fear of happiness and pleasure exists, and if you’re suffering from them, know that you are not alone.


Acknowledging the feelings

Studies show that the fear of happiness can lead to decreased life satisfaction and overall wellbeing.The anxiety and panic attacks that might occur as part of these phobias can involve increased heart rate, increased rate of breathing, or excessive sweating. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to acknowledge our feelings instead of fighting them. It’s normal to feel fear, and there are multiple techniques you can implement to ensure your wellbeing during this period. 

Relaxation strategies, behavioral therapies, and other lifestyle practices can be helpful when acknowledging feelings and learning how to manage difficult situations. Don’t let fear run your life and limit your potential. Let it be a tool rather than a deterrent to living a vibrant life.

Beatriz Martinez
I am a journalist specialised in international relations, and writing is my absolute passion. I translate my knowledge and feelings into words, a process that has become my profession and at the same time my personal healing practice. I believe that being curious about what surrounds us is the key to educating ourselves and to further being able to express it to others. I love reading and am mostly interested in politics, human rights, social movements, and the passionate world of health.

Amadou Barrow

My areas of expertise center around climate change and global health; Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH); environmental and occupational health; health education and promotion; and health risk communications. I have experience as a lecturer at both university level in the area of health psychology, health education & promotion, water supply & sanitation, biostatistics, epidemiology and research methodology. I have published several scientific manuscripts in various reputable journals on maternal & child health morbidities and mortalities in LMIC settings. I am a passionate digital health enthusiast with a special focus on holistic wellbeing at all levels.

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Gulel, F. E., & Caglar, A. We Laughed a Lot, Then We Will Come to Its Harms: Fears of Happiness. Contemporary Approaches in Social Science Researches, 225.

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Is It Possible to Fear Happiness or Pleasure? Let’s Find Out

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