Trypanophobia or Needle Phobia?
by Jerry Emanuelson
This is a brief page about some of the odd names for needle phobia. The main Needle Phobia Page (about overcoming the fear of needle procedures) is at:
For about 15 years, I've been reading nearly everything that I could find about needle phobia. Since early 2006, a new word has appeared on the internet that I had only seen in one brief instance before. The new word has slowly gotten more popular among certain internet users. The new word is "trypanophobia."
Upon investigation (although trypanophobia may have been used in some obscure texts years earlier), this word appears to have originated (in its popular usage, at least) on Wikipedia. This was odd because I knew, as a frequent Wikipedia editor myself, that this sort of thing just was not supposed to happen. (Specifically, the term trypanophobia seems to have arisen on Wikipedia in December of 2005.)
As of June 26, 2011 (as well as for a very long time before that), the main Wikipedia article on Phobias has correctly stated:
It is certainly true that most individuals who suffer from phobias want to know a Greek-derived name for their phobia. This fact results in the "word game" referred to in the Wikipedia article on Phobias. I've never seen this obsessive desire for a Greek-derived name for a phobia adequately explained. It seems to be one of the many mysterious things that has become wired into the human brain.
The Wikipedia article was finally changed to "Fear of Needles" in August of 2012. This was fortunate because the naming of a Wikipedia article Trypanophobia for more than 6 years caused unnecessary confusion and violated more than one Wikipedia policy. (Some of the policies are obviously overlapping.)
(1) It violated the No Original Research policy.
(2) It violated the Wikipedia is not a word usage guide policy.
(3) It violated the Wikipedia policy against neologisms. (A neologism is a new word that is usually made up by combining logical parts of other words.)
(4) It violated the Wikipedia policy on article naming conventions. This policy advocates the use of common names for articles rather than any kind of article naming system that would be unfamiliar to the average reader.
The term trypanophobia can cause additional confusion because it has also been used in recent years to refer to a fear of a certain type of disease-causing protozoa. Those protozoa are known as trypanosomes or trypanosomatids. The disease-causing protozoa of this type cause illnesses such as sleeping sickness or Chagas disease. They have nothing to do with the medical use of needles.
I am not knowledgeable in Greek, so I cannot make any judgement about the various Greek-derived terms for needle phobia. I do know that (as of June 26, 2011) the following is a list of the number of times that various Greek-derived terms for needle phobia can be found in the United States National Library of Medicine PubMed Database of more than 20 million medical journal articles.
Aichmophobia: NONE (although aichmophobic does appear in an article in a German-language psychology journal from 1961)
Belonephobia: ONCE (in a two-page article in the August 2006 issue of the journal, Australian Family Physician)
On the other hand, the more common English-language phrase "needle phobia" appears 79 times in the same database.
Ironically, in late July of 2012, just before the name of the infamous Wikipedia article was renamed "Fear of Needles," the word trypanophobia appeared in one medical journal article in the National Library of Medicine database for the very first time. This illustrates the remarkable power of Wikipedia.
So if you are looking for information on trypanophobia, you may have better results, both in the quantity and the quality of the information, if you search instead for needle phobia (or the less frequently-used, but more common phrase, "fear of needles.")
Go to the The Needle Phobia Page.