Penteraphobia: symptoms, causes and treatments

Penteraphobia is an irrational fear and aversion to the law. This can be unwarranted and persistent, being a problem for the affected person who may find their life very limited in certain ways.

Although it may seem like a joke, due to the chascarrillos that have always been raised around the figure of the mother-in-law, the truth is that it is totally real and there are many people who, in one way or another, have to live with the constant fear of a relative. so close.

It is not exactly one of the most common phobias, but it is worth defining and knowing the symptoms, causes and treatment of this disorder.


Penteraphobia is the irrational and unhealthy fear of the mother-in-law. Its origin comes from the combination of the Greek words “penthera”, which means mother-in-law and “phobos”, which means hatred or fear.

It is a specific phobia that must be clarified that is distinguished from a simple repulsion or discomfort, as it can seriously affect the person suffering from the disorder. DSM). These are:

  • Excessive and persistent fear of mother-in-law.
  • States of anxiety or panic in the presence of your mother-in-law.
  • Avoid all means of contacting the partner’s mother.

If the patient recognizes these symptoms and admits that they are excessive, considering the danger of his fear, it can be said that he really suffers from a phobia.

Penteraphobia is closely linked to other similar disorders: soceraphobia (fear of in-laws as a whole), vitrophobia (fear of stepfather) and novercaphobia (fear of stepmother).


Symptoms vary depending on the mental state of the person suffering from the disorder, in addition to the exposure they suffer or not. That is, as with any other phobia, the level of fear varies depending on the person itself.

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Some of the most common symptoms of mother-in-law phobia are:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Discomfort
  • tremors
  • Shortness of breathe
  • Rapid, irregular breathing and heartbeat
  • excessive sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Inability to articulate words
  • screams and screams
  • Self control
  • panic attacks
  • extreme anxiety

In this situation, the son-in-law or daughter-in-law choose to avoid any contact with the mother-in-law. Also, it will be difficult for you to find a picture or a gift of her, as she will come out of any element that reminds you of her presence.


Being such a peculiar phobia, it is difficult to determine what are the causes that can develop this irrational fear.

Phobias are generally believed to arise from traumatic events in childhood. Something that needs to be ruled out, because it is rare for any baby to have a mother-in-law at such an early age.

Either way, it could be due to a parent’s bad experience with the mother-in-law, who in turn is the grandmother of those affected. In that case, it would be due to what is called family conditioning.

Some scientists have the theory that genetics has a lot of influence on the development of a phobia, being prone to think that if you have a family member with this problem, you may be more likely than someone else to develop it as well.

Presumably, sociology plays an important role in this case. Across the different ages, the mother-in-law was listed as heavy, envious, controlling, or competitive. True or not, this has greatly influenced the view we have of them.


As we always warn, when you suffer from any type of phobia, make sure it meets the requirements of the DSM and put yourself in the hands of a psychologist or any other professional specialized in the subject.

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They will help you deal with and understand what causes your problem so it can be resolved.

Some of the most common types of treatment by these specialists are:


The person, with the help of an expert, opens their subconscious mind to allow their behavior patterns to change. If the cause is also found, the problem will be resolved sooner and therapy will be more effective.

The professional will present in your mind positive ideas about your mother-in-law. A type of mind correction to overcome fear.

Although it is a therapy approved by the American Medical Association in 1958, many people are reluctant to let someone else play with their mind.

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

NLP is based on personal development therapies and psychotherapy that apply to changing the behavior or skills of the person suffering from the phobia. To apply them, it is necessary to get to the root of the problem.

With this, you can reframe your thoughts and change your preconceived notions about your mother-in-law.

Relaxation therapies

Section related to energy psychology. This type of therapy uses techniques such as yoga, pilates, tai-chi or acupressure.

This will change some lifestyle habits that will improve the energy on the surface of the skin and stimulate electrochemistry in the brain.

It should be noted that although it has more and more followers among experts, it is still a somewhat controversial therapy because it is not very clear whether it can actually help overcome or improve a phobia.


  • Be positive and prepare yourself mentally to fight fear.
  • Don’t go to the basics. Taking drugs, alcohol or certain antidepressants will only make the situation worse.
  • Ignore your fear by dealing with it normally. Don’t hide what you feel.
  • Knowledge is power.
  • Look for yours. Those people who will serve as a crutch in the fight against this disease.
  • Avoid toxic or negative people. They will only delay or worsen treatment and recovery.
  • Participate in group therapies where you meet more people like you.
  • Look at the evidence and understand that your fear is not so bad.
  • Imagine it’s the worst thing that can happen to you. Fear flees the more you chase it.
  • Face your fears. On the first day, he will have a bad time, but little by little he will be able to overcome what scares him.
  • Reward yourself. When you make some progress, treat yourself or take a break.
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Surely today you discovered one of the rarest phobias that exist. In your case, do you have problems with your mother-in-law? Are you unable to be in the same room as her? Tell us your experience!

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