Published: 02/10/2021 - Updated: 07/31/2021
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
Cherophobia is the irrational fear of being happy. The term comes from the Greek word “chero”, which means “to rejoice”.
When a person has this fear of hapiness, he or she is often afraid to participate in activities that many would describe as fun or as providing a sense of happiness. The truth is that it has not yet been researched or clearly defined, as this disorder is not yet included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) for diagnosing mental health conditions.
What are the symptoms of cherophobia?
Some experts classify cherophobia as a form of anxiety disorder. In this case, the anxiety is related to participating in activities that make us happy.
Is a person with cherophobia always sad? Not at all. He or she only avoids activities that can lead to happiness or joy, for example a party, a concert or a meal with friends. The person with cherophobia rejects all those opportunities that could lead to positive changes in life because of the fear that something bad will happen. If one sounds like fun, he or she will walk away from it.
Some of the key thoughts a person with cherophobia may have include:
- Being happy will mean something bad will happen to me (something good is followed by something bad).
- Happiness makes you a bad person or a worse person.
- Showing that you are happy is bad for you or your friends and family.
- Trying to be happy is a waste of time and effort.
Although it may take time, it is possible to overcome these fears.
What are the causes of cherophobia?
Sometimes, cherophobia can be due to the belief that if something very good happens to a person, or if their life is going well, something negative/bad is bound to happen to them next. As a result, they may fear activities related to happiness because they believe they can then prevent something bad from happening. This is often the case when someone has experienced a physically or emotionally traumatic event in the past.
An introvert may also be more likely to experience this phobia, as they prefer activities alone or at most with two people at a time. They may feel intimidated or uncomfortable in group settings, noisy places and crowded spaces.
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Perfectionists may also be associated with cherophobia. Those who are perfectionists may feel that happiness is a trait only of lazy or unproductive people. As a result, they avoid all activity associated with happiness.
What are the treatments for cherophobia?
Because cherophobia has not been extensively detailed or studied as a separate disorder, there are no FDA-approved medications or other definitive treatments to treat the condition. However, some suggested treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), relaxation strategies such as deep breathing, journaling or exercise, or exposure to happiness-provoking events as a means of helping a person identify that happiness need not have adverse effects on one’s life.
- Joshanloo M, et al. (2014). Aversion to happiness across cultures: A review of where and why people are averse to happiness. DOI:
- Joshanloo M, et al. (2013). Cross-cultural validation of the fear of happiness scale across 14 national groups.
- The Myers & Briggs Foundation. (n.d.). Extraversion or introversion.
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