Fear of Sunflowers. What It Is. How and Why This Phobia Happens


Sunflower Chat, Sunflower Facts / Friday, March 1st, 2019

It never occurred to me that anyone could have a fear of sunflowers, something that I’ve loved growing for most of my life, but it’s true there are many folks out there that have this fear, and either they or their friends and family would like to understand it further, as do I.

So what is the fear of Sunflowers? Being in fear of sunflowers is call helianthophobia. It may sound strange to people who love sunflowers but this actually exists and there are many reasons why this can occur. Whether it’s the sight of them, the look, smell or even the thought. so let’s look into this a little further.

What is a Phobia

We all may have some worries and problems in our lives, but to have a phobia can be debilitating. A phobia is the dread of something in a mild or an extreme way. Depending on how your fear has developed may tip the balance for fears of situations, objects, people, animals or nature.  

General Fear of Flowers

The fear of flowers is called anthophobia. This word comes from the two Greek words, anthos meaning flowers and phobo means having a dread or dislike, hence phobia.

Having a fear of flowers is sometimes taken as being in fear of nature, but anthophobia is more defined than that. A person who experiences anthophobia usually only has the fear of flowers and not other plants or trees. But they may try and stay away from situations that put them close to nature for fear of coming across flowers.   

What Is the Fear of Sunflowers Called

Fear of Sunflowers takes the general fear of flowers one step further, specifically meaning the fear of one type of flower. The fear of sunflowers is called helianthophobia. This word comes from three Greek words. Heli meaning sun, anthos meaning flowers and phobo meaning fear or phobia….hence  sun, flower, fear

Why Some People Fear Sunflowers

Whilst looking into this phobia I came across a few examples and reasons why some people find sunflowers fearful. It can come from a learned experience from a very young age or an observation, situation or emotion at any stage of our lives that produces immense stress.  

The Sunflower Bloom

The fear of the sunflower bloom itself is uneasy for many. First the large yellow petals of the sunflower are engaging and draw the attention towards the large brown center disc. The disc has been likened to a large dark vortex that sufferers feel they’re being sucked into. This is such an unpleasant feeling of dread and foreboding.

This could be likened to the fear of holes, bumps and clusters known as trypophobia (see the related questions below). The fuzzy brown texture of the center of the disc repulses some people too. They feel drawn to this area of the sunflower by the bright inviting petals but become uncomfortable by the look and texture of the disc.

helianthophobia
how the fear of sunflowers can make someone feel

Sunflowers Bloom Size

The size of the sunflowers bloom can also trigger a response of dread. Sunflowers blooms have been known to grow up to, and more than 2 feet (60 cm) in diameter. The largeness of a flower can be quite daunting and surreal. Sunflowers are almost human-like in form and to some sufferers of helianthophobia, the tall plant and large head are almost akin to seeing a giant standing before them.

Sunflowers follow the sun during the day and return to their original position throughout the night. The way that a sunflower moves can be strange and cause anxiety for someone who is sensitive to this strange movement and phenomena called heliotropism. Understanding the reason why this happens may help to understand the cause

Inhabitants of Sunflowers

To some, seeing sunflowers brings on the unpleasant fear of what it attracts. Bees buzzing, butterflies flitting, birds flapping and insects milling around doing disagreeable things. Sunflowers do indeed attract a lot of attention from pollinators and wildlife and the noise of these creatures can be disturbing to some.

Being in a garden and being stung by bees and wasps, creepy crawlies, such as spiders and insects landing on our skin can be an awful experience at any stage of our lives. And for this to happen in childhood can reinforce the negativity of such an experience into adulthood.  

Seasonal Sunflower Allergies  

Allergies can be a huge reason why someone dislikes sunflowers. Many sunflowers, with their large blooms, produce a lot of pollen. This can cause extreme difficulties and symptoms. Allergies can be debilitating and painful so to fear the cause is understandable.

Sunflowers as a Trigger

A phobia can be brought on by the memory of an object in an unpleasant situation. In the case of helianthrophobia sunflowers are the trigger that gives negative responses, which could be panic attacks, anxiety, and many other physical reactions.

For example, in the real life story of Daneen who, as a child, was given a soft toy sunflower to hold as her parents were arguing and discussing separation. This led Daneen to associate the sunflower with distressing moments in her life and therefore developing a later phobia of sunflowers.

As did happen when as a young girl, Doreen used to cuddle a soft toy in the shape of a Sunflower, during distressing times when her parents would argue. This led to her developing her fear of sunflowers.

Being at a funeral is traumatic in itself. if sunflowers were a feature of the event then this can trigger a fear and hatred of such a flower. If sunflowers are associated with funerals and that of loss and unhappiness then this can develop into the utmost dread of sunflowers.

you are not alone with your sf fear
Helianthophobia is normal – you are not the only one in the world

Is It Normal and Common to Have This Fear

To have fears and phobias is a fact of our modern world. And to have helianthophobia is normal for someone who has it. But the intensity of that phobia is different from one person to the next.

To have helianthophobia is still quite a rare phobia but is becoming more recognized as people around the world communicate their fears. Knowing you are not alone with this anxiety, and having an understanding of it might help to ease some of the issues related to it.

Seeking Help

If your fear of sunflowers is overwhelming and effects your everyday life then, as with other phobias, there is help out there. There is a wide range of therapies that can be found. These possibilities can be discussed with your family doctor. Depending on the acuteness of halianthophobia your doctor will determine what type of therapy is needed.

These might include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is a talking therapy that focuses on how your beliefs and attitudes are affecting your feelings and thoughts about your problem. Worksheets might need to be filled in about the day to day occurrences of the problem. Then by analyzing these worksheets a plan of action might be possible to help ease your situation.

Mindfulness Therapy is another talking therapy that can work by talking through how you feel and posing self-informed acknowledgment of personal problems with halianthophobia in your  everyday life. Hopefully, this will lead to managing the phobia and having positive changes in your life.

Or you could investigate exposure therapy to overcome any anxieties caused by sunflowers, this kind of therapy is often used in overcoming a fear of flying, or vertigo.

Final Thoughts

I’m hoping that my small insight into helianthophobia has helped with the understanding of the fears some people have with sunflowers. It is a real and distressing thing that can affect sufferers in different ways, whether its the thought and sight of sunflowers, the smell or the feel of them.

Like all phobias, it should be taken seriously and an understanding from friends and family would be a great help to those who are affected by helianthophobia.

If you have any observations and thoughts that could help others about this problem please feel free to comment below. Please bear in mind that I police my comments and anything I deem inappropriate I will dismiss out of respect for the wellbeing of all concerned.  

Related Questions

Trypophobia

Trypophobia is a fear of holes, humps and bumps. At the moment the understanding of this subject is limited, but like helianthophobia it is becoming more recognized in the medical world through the worldwide exchange of information and social media with sufferers.

This phobia may seem irrational but there could be some learned biological reaction on an evolutionary level. If indeed this does exist it can manifest later in life. Having trypophobia gives the sufferer an aversion to irregular or regular patterns like holes, humps and bumps.

These can be found all around us in nature. Dried out seed pods, Bee honey cones, uneven and ominous rock formations and holes. Animals and insects with strips, dots, and patterns on them. These patterns give us a warning that these things might be poisonous or dangerous.

This is how trypophobia could relate to sunflowers and helianthophobia. The large brown center disc not only acts as a large brown gaping hole but to close observers of sunflowers there is a swirling vortex pattern in the disc. This is called the Fibonacci pattern. This spiral can draw the sufferer in and give a feeling of discomfort and impending doom.

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