Cleithrophobia – Fear of being Trapped or Locked.

What is Cleithrophobia?

Every time we take the elevators or we are just enclosed in a small congested place, we never think of it as something unusual or scary. However, unlike us, there are many among the crowd who feel suffocated, panicked and traumatized in such places. As weird it may sound, these fear do exist and the scary part is that such phobias are very risky to life only if one fails to address it. If you are guessing Cleithrophobia synonymous to claustrophobia then you are little on the wrong side. They are like soul phobias yet a little different from one another. Cleithrophobia is the fear of getting trapped somewhere or being in some congested small space where you have very little to move about.

Difference between
Cleithrophobia and

Does this sound like Claustrophobia? Well, they are like soul phobias as mentioned above. Claustrophobia is a little different. Let’s take the example of a person who is Cleithrophobic. He enters a small room and he is fine, nothing triggers the fear inside him. This happens because Cleithrophobic people do not feel fearful in confined spaces where they can leave the space at their will, their fear gets triggered only when they are trapped inside the room. If that person would have been locked inside the room, he must have had the panic attack or suffocation because of his Cleithrophobia.

On the other hand, claustrophobia is the fear of small place itself. Which means if someone is in a small enclosed place, he will feel panicked or stressed irrespective of the fact whether he/she is locked or not. These kinds of fear are known as claustrophobia.

Clearly stating that Cleithrophobia is fear of being trapped while Claustrophobia is fear of small confined places. The difference between the two phobias are very bleak but very important too. One should identify the phobia differently as treating it would be easy then.

How would you know you have Cleithrophobia? (Common Symptoms)

The symptoms of Cleithrophobiaare same as other phobias. The common symptoms being anxiety, tension, excessive sweating, nervousness, rapid heartbeats and shortness of breath.

If one has this type of phobia then there is generally a trigger point which in the case of Cleithrophobia is the feeling of being trapped. So if one enters an enclosed space with locked doors or some box where there is no place to leave then generally this phobia gets triggered. Along with the common symptoms, these reactions can be an aftermath of the phobia attack:

  • Crying
  • Screaming,
  • Physically slamming out,
  • freezing up
  • Trying to run away

If the patient fails to run away from the place, then he/she might get fatigued, unconscious or even get severe panic attacks. There will some kind of physical illness and the person won’t be able to think of any other way rather than just escaping from the situation.


  • Cleithrophobia is mostly more related to winter based fears like being trapped in the snow or underneath ice sheets.
  • Even being locked in a bathroom can trigger Cleithrophobia. Though the lock can be unlocked many people feel clogged inside the bathroom if they suffer from Cleithrophobia.
  • Cleithrophobiausually develops because of some traumatic experience either in childhood or growing years. Eg: A man suffered from Cleithrophobia because when he was a small child he was locked in the traveling trunk for quite some time.
  • Scientifically this phobia is because of the deficiency of a particular brain chemical or malfunction of the brain.

How to come out of it?

If the symptoms are life-threatening or beyond one’s own capability of dealing with it, then the patient should immediately consult a mental health doctor. Phobias can always be dealt with medical help in a better way. Since the experts know the exact remedies to cure the phobia from its root.

Systematic desensitization and other cognitive-behavioral techniques are used to treat the phobias and these can be implemented only when a professional doctor is consulted. However one should refrain from taking potent drugs which claims to cure such phobias. They actually help in calming down the severe symptoms but not actually treat the phobia. They should not be taken also because once the person stops taking the medicine there are many abrupt side effects.

While those patients who feel that their symptoms are milder and not life-threatening can resort to some self-help techniques to deal with phobias. They can practice breathing exercises to help their panic attacks that make the body calmer. They can also remove possible locks from the doors of the rooms so that they don’t feel suffocative. However, it is not always feasible to remove locks everywhere.

Fear of being Trapped/Locked or  Cleithrophobia can be a psychological issue which might be resolved depending on the situation.
Image by Prawny from Pixabay

If there is some anxiety or panic triggered, the patient can make meditation a tool to beat the fear if they are alone. And if by chance there is a friend or relative who is with the person while he gets an attack, then they can ask them to speak to them and divert their attention to many interesting things. This Stop! The technique has worked for many people who are suffering from Cleithrophobia.

And if by chance there is a friend or relative who is with the person while he gets an attack, then they can ask them to speak to them and divert their attention to many interesting things. This Stop! The technique has worked for many people who are suffering from Cleithrophobia.

Unlike any other phobia, Cleithrophobia can also get serious. The only way to deal with it is through proper remedy and treatment. One should consult a doctor in case its worst and not delay. If the situation is under control then the patient should possibly foster more mental strength to beat that little fear residing in him/her.

Cleithrophobia facts

Most people feel uncomfortable if their movement is restricted, even if the circumstances present no danger at all. Signs of this anxiety are frequently seen in domestic mammals that are confined or restrained but in wild animals, the fear can be extreme and even result in stress-induced, sudden death. In claustrophobics compared to Cleithrophobia, the stress or fear response provoked by any form of physical restriction is highly developed.

This helps to explain why people with this condition experience phobic fear not only in small, confined spaces such as a lift, phone box or cubicle of a public toilet but also in other, less obvious, circumstances, such as sitting in a chair at the hairdresser or in a seat on public transport, waiting in a supermarket queue or being among a crowd of people.

This aspect of claustrophobia provides evident similarities with agoraphobia in which feelings of being trapped and inability to escape to safety are a prominent feature.


Any kind of phobia should not be encouraged in life since fears are those small restrictions which can become the biggest of obstacles in the path of living life. Cleithrophobia is one such phobia, which doesn’t allow the person to live freely even when the situation is more than normal. If the patient cannot deal with the phobia on his own, he should take help and get it cured. Also, some healthy lifestyle and control over mind can inculcate better results. The important aspect of the entire process of dealing with Cleithrophobia is showing the mental tenacity needed to throw away the phobia outside the mind.

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Sam Norton

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[…] the many phobias, the one that suits the above-stated symptoms is the fear of being trapped (Cleithrophobia). It is the fear of being locked in enclosed places. People with such phobias avoid using […]

Julie Noyal

Thanks for the comment. Stay tuned for such informative articles.