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How Common is the Fear of Dolls?

By Patti Kate
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are countless fears or phobias that exist for people of all ages and walks of life, and pediophobia, or fear of dolls, is a fairly common fear. This phobia may manifest in early childhood and continue as a life-long fear, or in some individuals a fear of dolls may develop suddenly. In such cases, a certain event may trigger a doll anxiety of sorts. In some cases, an unpleasant association with a doll may elicit fear or panic when a doll is present.

Although it is difficult to assess the actual percentage of the population who may be affected by this phobia, it is estimated that a fear of dolls may be more common than some people realize. This could be because many individuals who suffer from this phobia deal with it secretly and do not seek professional help. Pediophobia can take on several forms, including a fear of lifelike dolls that seem to 'stare,' or robotic-type toys, mannequins, ventriloquist dummies, and even some stuffed animals.

Animated dolls that walk or talk are generally a common object of fear for the person who is affected by this phobia. Certain individuals feel highly uncomfortable by the presence of a doll that displays human characteristics. Dolls that have lifelike voices may elicit fear in persons prone to pediophobia.

There are some individuals who have a strong fear of dolls which represent a particular classification or genre. One example is realistic baby dolls that are inspired by real-life newborn infants. Sometimes known as 'fake babies' or reborn dolls, these look remarkably like actual children.

Other doll fears can create anxiety when a person glances at a store mannequin. Some individuals suffering from this fear may avoid going to department stores that they know have these displays. If such disorders disrupt one's routine, experts claim it can spiral out of control and control one's life if not properly treated.

In many cases, overcoming a fear of dolls may involve extensive therapy. Some individuals may find hypnosis to be an effective treatment. Learning what events may have triggered the irrational and often deep-rooted anxiety is generally crucial to finding an effective cure.

Desensitization techniques can be implemented when treating a patient who has a fear of dolls. The method is to gradually introduce a doll or dolls to the patient under close supervision of a therapist. In other cases, programs implementing special software may attempt to successfully 'reprogram' the patient's irrational thoughts and underlying fears.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By umbra21 — On Mar 10, 2014

@croydon - I think what probably happens in most cases is that a child is terrified of a doll for some reason, maybe because their imagination runs away with them, or they associate the doll with something like abuse, and that fear just sticks in their head.

I know we like to have explanations for this kind of thing, just like in a scary story, but it seems pretty self evident to me why a fake human would be scary to a certain kind of child. If that fear sticks around it could easily become a problem.

By croydon — On Mar 09, 2014

@Fa5t3r - Lifelike baby dolls aren't scary though. I mean, they would basically be put on display as an example of art, like a realistic painting or something.

I think most people would be afraid of dolls that look like the Chucky doll from that movie. I mean, there are some freaky looking dolls out there and sometimes people try to make them look even worse because they think it's funny.

Plus there have been stories where a doll has actually been haunted. I don't really believe in ghosts, but I wouldn't want to take any chances either.

By Fa5t3r — On Mar 08, 2014

I can definitely see why some people might be afraid of those reborn baby dolls. If you've ever seen one, they are almost exactly like a real baby. They are made to have the same skin tones and hair and are weighted so that they feel like a live baby in your arms. Sometimes they will even put a little fake heart beat into the doll so that it just seems like it's sleeping. They are usually made from store-bought dolls that an artist will repaint and refurnish so that they are as realistic as possible.

So of course they never move. I just think the idea of a doll that looks completely lifelike but doesn't move is actually quite scary. Although apparently they sell to collectors for quite a lot of money.

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