Some phobias most people have heard about, but others remain more obscure to the general public. One of the latter is Liticaphobia or the fear of lawsuits.
In this article, we will talk about what Liticaphobia is, what causes it, how to recognize its symptoms, and how to treat it.
What Is Liticaphobia?
To put it simply, liticaphobia or liticaphobia is the fear of lawsuits. People who suffer from this phobia live in constant fear that they may have to face a lawsuit. But, more specifically, they live in fear that they may have to face some of the worse consequences of being sued.
Liticaphobists are afraid that may have to face jail time or have to pay money they do not have to defend themselves or to pay for bail.
Liticaphobia is a genuine and medically recognized phobia. Although it is fairly recent if we compare it with other more universal phobias. This phobia is the result of living in societies where lawsuits happen regularly and, even if you have never personally affected, you hear about them from acquaintances or, particularly, on the media.
What Causes Liticaphobia?
The causes of Liticaphobia are no different from the causes of any other phobia from which people may suffer.
All phobias are normally the result of a combination of different factors. On the one hand, there could be any external events of a traumatic event. And, on the other hand, there is always an internal (i.e., genetic or hereditary) predisposition to suffering from a phobia.
In this particular case, the external factor may be something as obvious as having dealt with a lawsuit in the past or being close to someone who has had to face the consequences of a lawsuit (a parent, a sibling, an espouse, etc.).
But the cause or the trigger could be a lot subtler.
In many countries, television courtroom dramas and movies are hugely popular. It follows that someone who watches a lot of this particular content and gets invested in the plot and the ultimate outcome of those shows may see any preexisting misgivings about getting sued augmented.
Now, it is important to point out that watching TV courtroom dramas or films will not in itself create Liticaphobia. But if you already fear lawsuits, your fear may grow exponentially if you are greatly exposed to such content in your spare time.
Remember that the point of having spare time is to enjoy oneself and relax, so using it to watch something that increases your stress and anxiety levels may not be the best idea one could have.
It is also important to remember that everything on TV and films is exaggerated for entertainment purposes. Some TV courtroom dramas and movies use a melodramatic tone that exaggerates the comings and goings of a courthouse. They are not, for the most part, faithful depictions of the legal process.
But for these shows to increase the fear of facing a lawsuit and its consequences, the fear must already exist within the person in question.
If nothing recent seems to be the origin of this phobia, then the person who suffers from it should look at his or her more distant past. Very often it could be that, as children, they experienced one of their parents dealing with a lawsuit and this caused a trauma in them. Or, it could also be that one of the parents had that phobia and has inadvertently passed it on to the child who then grew up to have it whether he or she had any direct experience with lawsuits or not.
Sometimes, Liticaphobia is borne out of ignorance. People who do not understand the law of the land or how courts actually work are more likely to suffer from this phobia than people who are au-fait with the legal system or, particularly, have had positive experiences within it.
Yet, there is also a group of people whose biggest fear is to spend time in prison (particularly being sentenced to life) or, even worse, being sentenced to death by the State.
Ironically, people with Liticaphobia tend to be those that are law-abiding and have no real reason to worry about ever facing a lawsuit. If someone has been sued, it is natural for them to be afraid, but that would not be a phobia.
For a fear to be a phobia it has to irrational.
What Are the Symptoms of Liticaphobia?
The specific symptoms vary from person to person. Mostly, these differences in symptoms depend directly on the level of irrational fear they experience.
I was not a silly kid or outgoing. In fact, I suffered from quite a bit of anxiety. I used to have panic attacks when I was a teenager, really incapacitating moments, because I had some phobias. – Dane Cook
But they are some typical symptoms that are common not only to those who suffer from this phobia but also from any other phobia.
These symptoms could include, rapid breathing, excessive sweating, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea, shaking, dry mouth, and a general sense of dread or anxiety.
How To Treat Liticaphobia?
Like all other phobias, it is recommended that people who experience this visit a doctor. There are prescription drugs available that will suppress some of the symptoms. There are pros and cons of medicating a phobia but there are also other ways of dealing with the condition.
Counseling, psychotherapy, and other psychological treatments are often enough to treat this and other phobias.
Some people have successfully dealt with this condition thanks to hypnotherapy.
The best course of action would be to go to a doctor if Liticaphobia has begun to interfere with your daily life.