Article

The relationship of teasing in childhood to the expression of gelotophobia in adults

Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling 01/2010;
Source: DOAJ

ABSTRACT In observations from clinical practice, the origin of gelotophobia, the fear of being laughed at, was traced back to traumatizing experiences of being laughed at in childhood. Because gelotophobia is assumed to be mediated by a personal sense of shame, this hypothesis was tested using a group of gelotophobes (N = 99), a shame-based clinical group (N = 103), a non shame-based clinical group (N = 166), and normal controls (N = 495). While gelotophobes and the shame-based group reported having had more traumatizing experiences than the normal controls and the non shame-based group, their intensity and frequency did not explain individual differences in the fear of being laughed at for gelotophobes and the shame-based group.

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    ABSTRACT: Anecdotal evidence suggested that some outbreaks of aggression and violence may be related to a fear of being laughed at and ridiculed. The present study examined the potential association of the fear of other persons' laughter (gelotophobia) with emotion-related deficits predisposing for aggression, anger and aggression proneness, and its overlaps with relevant mental disorders. Gelotophobic individuals were compared to a non-phobic control group with respect to emotion regulation skills and strategies, alexithymia, anger proneness, and aggressive behavior. Social phobia was diagnosed using the Structural Clinical Interview (SCID-I) for DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition). Additionally, the SCID-II modules for Cluster A Personality Disorders, which includes schizoid, paranoid, and schizotypal personality disorder were administered to all participants. The findings show that gelotophobia is associated with deficits in the typical handling of an individual's own affective states, greater anger proneness and more aggressive behavior according to self-report as compared to non-phobic individuals. 80% of the subjects in the gelotophobia group had an additional diagnosis of social phobia and/or Cluster A personality disorder. The additional diagnoses did not predict additional variance of anger or aggressive behavior as compared to gelotophobia alone. Features related to aggression and violence that are inherent in mental disorders such as social phobia and Cluster A personality disorders may be particularly evident in the symptom of fear of other persons' laughter.
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