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The Fear of Technology: The Best Treatments for Technophobia

written by: Justin Davis • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 10/20/2010

Technophobia is the fear of technology, and yes, it is a real disorder. But what are some real life examples of technophobia? What are the causes of this unusual phobia? And in a world of technology, what are the best treatments for technophobia?

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    Real Life Examples of Technophobia

    There is some debate over how technophobia is defined. To some it is an irrational fear of technology, to others those fears are justified. For example, if the introduction of technology leads to a loss of jobs.

    Many researchers think that technophobia began with the Industrial Revolution, as machines started to take on a bigger role in local and global economies. Laborers were losing jobs to technology, and many of those factory machines were downright deadly to maintain. In 1675, a labor group that lost their job to weaving machines destroyed them, an act which started a trend in the developed world. In fact, by 1727, the situation was so dramatic that English Parliament outlawed machine demolition and made it a capital offense. The most famous real life example of technophobia is the anti-industrialist group the Luddites, who destroyed a large number of textile machines from 1811 to 1816 in America and Britain, and some groups of Luddites still exist today.

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    Causes of Technophobia

    Technophobia is a specific phobia, which can be caused by anything from a chemical imbalance in the brain, to traumatic events causing a fear reaction. However, some researchers have theorized that lower levels of pre-natal (before birth) testosterone leads to difficulty understanding technology, which may be a cause of the disorder. Generally speaking, most cases of technophobia are theorized to have roots in traumatic early childhood experiences, or a lack of experience with technology.

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    Treatment of Technophobia

    There are many different types of treatment for phobias, and technophobia is no exception. The most common treatments for technophobia include;

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for technophobia generally consists of several one on one visits with a licensed therapist. In these sessions, the patient and therapist talk about the patient's thoughts towards technology. The therapist may try to elicit a shift in the patient's attitudes over time, which may then lead to an acceptance of technology.

    Exposure therapy for technophobia consists of several weeks or months of gradually increasing exposure to technology, led by a therapist, but controlled by the patient. For example, one week the patient will simply be in a room with a computer, but it is not even plugged in, while they talk with their therapist. The next week, the computer may be on, and the following week they may be able to use the mouse. Over time, exposure therapy combined with structured courses on the use of technology has been shown to be effective at treating technophobia, especially in older patients.

    Anti-anxiety medications are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and some social phobias as well. Lexapro, Xanax and Prozac are all effective at treating anxiety disorders. However, there has been no conclusive evidence that anti-anxiety medications have been effective at treating technophobia.

    Ultimately, the best treatment for technophobia is either cognitive behavioral therapy or exposure therapy.