Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Personality Quirks: C is for Cleithrophobia

Are you a writer looking for some interesting personality traits and quirks to create characters? Or maybe you’re a logophile, someone who loves words, and wants to collect more of them. Either way, you’ve come to the right place.

Cleithrophobia. Or is it clithrophobia or cleisiophobia? An interesting quirk, this one. I found three spellings for the condition of fear of being locked in an enclosed place, fear of being enclosed, fear of being trapped in a space. Beats me why there are three spellings! I didn’t bother investigating since that’s not my focus.

Cleithrophobia is not the same as claustrophobia (irrational fear of confined spaces) since it goes beyond enclosure in the space to include the notion of not being able to escape it, the feeling of being trapped.

Cleithrophobia comes from the Greek cleithro, meaning “to shut or close” and from phobos, meaning “fear.”

I couldn’t think of any print or TV/movie characters who exhibit this behavior, but if you can, please leave it in the comments below. However, it does present interesting possibilities, especially for crime fiction/mystery/thriller writers. Maybe a domestic thriller, eh?

In a mild form, we may find someone who doesn’t like to ride in a car as a passenger. As driver, the cleithrophobic personality might feel more in control of the ability to escape the locked space. In an extreme form, this personality would likely be panic-stricken in places known to have locks, like jails. Think of the possibilities.

Perhaps your MC is cleithrophobic and someone is trying to drive shim crazy by putting shim into situations where being locked up happens, but then the door is not locked when anyone shows up to help, leading them to believe it’s all in the MC’s head. If the MC is declared mentally unfit a business is left to the partner? An inheritance enriches a ne’er-do-well? Revenge is attained for a perceived slight?

In another scenario, a cleithrophobic character could be imprisoned in a below-ground cell with no windows and a locked door. The character is brought out periodically to convince shis family that heesh is alive so they’ll pay the ransom. Slowly the character becomes unhinged due to the fear of being locked away. Does the MC get there in time to save the character’s sanity? Does the imprisoner know about the condition? If not, how does heesh react to the unraveling of a character?

See you tomorrow for the letter D?

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Cleisthrophobia is a real thing and writers can use it for character development from @RomanceRighter http://bit.ly/2ndVPjK



  1. I can relate to that phobia. I hate the idea of being trapped. But I don't think I have that fear bad enough to warrant it being a phobia.

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

    1. Thank you lucky stars, Patricia! Yeah, phobias are irrational fears that interfere with living life fully. Aversion, yep! Lots of us have that. Thanks for being a regular here! I appreciate it.

  2. An interesting one! Though I think my fears about being trapped are a bit more metaphorical. @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

    1. LOL It would be a terrible fear to have, you'd be constantly worrying about it. Claustrophobia gone ballistic! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. That was a very interesting post I have never heard of this word before. So, I learned something new. It sound a bit like claustrophobia but like you mentioned is not the same... :)
    Thanks for sharing!
    Best wishes!
    PS: I had to stalk you to find you! As visited my blog and you left the link but it was broken :( Then I headed to AtoZ blogging's blog and that was broken So I found you through twitter. I am telling you this considering maybe you want to fix the link on AtoZ blogger's blog.

    1. Thank you for your persistence and I'm glad you liked the post. I don't really like the new system yet (if ever--lol). I, too, have had to track down dome folks. I'll see if I can fix my links. I'm not uber-techno! lol Thanks for the heads up. I don't see a link for you, so I'm going into detective mode.