Medical Definition of Fear of ghosts

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Fear of ghosts: An abnormal and persistent fear of ghosts. Sufferers of this fear experience undue anxiety even though they realize their fear is irrational. They may fear going into woods, empty houses or dark places and may react with alarm at strange or unexplained noises. No doubt Hollywood has enkindled spectrophobia with such films as Poltergeist, The Haunting and The Blair Witch Project.

Fear of ghosts is termed "spectrophobia," a hybrid word derived from the Latin "spectrum" (appearance, apparition) and the Greek "phobos" (fear). "Spectrum" is also used to form many other English words, including a word with the same spelling, "spectrum" (the series of color bands of light appearing after white light passes through a diffracting device such as a prism); "spectrology" (the scientific study of the spectrum); and "specter" (apparition, ghost).

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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