Can people have “Fear of Happiness”?



  • People study, work, eat, sleep, and live: for happiness.


All denizens idolize and crave for the satisfaction of one’s life through achieving ‘happiness’, an abstract value which is the stimulus of one’s daily routine. Although this might seem to be an obvious fact, some people, particularly from certain cultures, actually fear the state of happiness.In places that believe worldly happiness to be associated with sin, demoralization, etc. people actually feel less satisfied when their lives are flowing smoothly.

The majority of the cosmopolitan think that unhappiness is something to be prevented, evaded, or even eliminated. However, recent studies show that for some people, feeling good depresses them, and in extreme cases, can be the source of apprehension.


People fear positive emotions in such circumstances: believing that good fortune is a sign of a failure, or feeling unworthy. According to the two new studies by Mohsen Joshanloo and Paul Gilbert, these occasions are proved. Mohsen Joshanloo, a psychology graduate student at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, created a scale for evaluating fear of happiness. The participants gradually all came to consensus to the statements such as “Having lots of joy and fun causes bad things to happen.” This kind of belief can be epidemic to people in many countries; according to an evidence paper by Joshanloo, the scale was dependable in 14 different countries.

Well known psychiatrist, Paul Gilbert, used a similar scale to prove that fear of happiness is related highly with depression. Using Gilbert’s words,“Some people experience happiness as being relaxed or even lazy, as if happiness is frivolous and one must always be striving; others feel uncomfortable if they are not always worrying,” it shows the people’s feeling toward happiness.Gilbert cements his thesis by concluding, “It is not uncommon for people to fear that if they are happy about something, it will be taken away.”

These two psychiatrists found out that fear of happiness isn’y an uncommon symptom. However, these two predecessors’ work further implies that this symptom usually coexists with othe mental disorders. Patients with major depressive disorder, for example, have been found to fear both negative and positive emotions more than healthy people tolerates.

In conclusion, fearing happiness can be a crucial indicator in searching for the existence of other mental disorders that can affect patients in a broad range. This symptom shouldn’t be overlooked, but should be dealt in serious manner.




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