Claustrophobia is one of the most common phobic disorders in society. It is known as an intense and unrealistic fear of being confined in an enclosed space, such as an elevator or small room.

The condition is kind of a neurosis (nervous disorder) believed to be caused in the same way as other phobias (unreasonable or morbid fears). Phobias, it is believed, are in each case a substitute fear – that an unconscious forbidden fear an individual is afraid to face. The selection of the symbolic fear is by chance and may have happened because the person was exposed to the symbol – such as a small room – when the forbidden fear (such as hatred of a parent or a sex impulse) threatened the victim. By avoiding the symbol, the person avoids the pain of recognizing the true cause of the distress.

Commonly, the claustrophobic person becomes anxious even at the thought of being “trapped” in a small room or passageway. If the person unexpectedly has to face the phobia, as when caught in a stuck elevator, real panic may result.

Claustrophobia can cripple one’s vocational and social life.

A psychotherapist may be able to help the claustrophobic patient realize the source of the phobia and thereby try to reduce or eliminate it. If it still persists, the therapist may try to desensitize the patient to the phobic fear. The phobic patient may be taught to enter small enclosed spaces to confront the fear time and again, respectively, until he feels relaxed and free of anxiety and be secured.

Self-understanding may be the best way to prevent phobias in oneself. The goal should be to face and acknowledge any hidden fears and channel them into constructive activity.