Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Cry baby cry

Make your mother sigh.
She's old enough to know better

So cry baby cry.

The Beatles -- "Cry Baby Cry"

Notice that this beautiful photo is one Short Person shy? That's because Kate was too busy crying a puddle onto Santa's rug to be bothered standing remotely near him for the camera.

Fear of Santa. There is no official label for this phobia, although I for one , as a child therapist, believe there should be. To that end, I have decided to use this post to officially declare my entent to create a new diagnostic catagory that effectively describes fear of Santa.
Hhhmmmm. What to call it? "CLAUStrophobia" would work (get it?) if that weren't already taken. If we were talking St. Nick we could refer to it as "Hagiophobia", which is a fear of saints/holy relics (more of a Catholic kind of phobia, Janice), but it just does not quite work for this situation. "Santaphobia" seems too obvious but is certainly the most memorable option (Who remembers the term "ophidiophobia" even though many folk have is the fear of snakes). So let's just keep things simple and call it Santaphobia.
Here are my proposed diagnostic criteria. The child must possess at least 3 of the following symptoms:
1. Child demonstrates at least two of the following physical symptoms: increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, sweating or flushing.
2. Child exhibits tearfulness when within a 100 yard radius of Santa.
3. Child hides face/refuses eye contact with Santa.
4. Child becomes quiet/withdrawn when a visit with Santa is discussed.
5. Symptoms increase in intensity or frequency as child's proximity to Santa increases.
Yep, Kate has a mean case of Santaphobia.
It brings me great comfort to know that Kate is not the only child with the above-listed syptoms. Exhibit A...this site:,0,2343680.ugcphotogallery. The Florida Sentinal has an entire collection of Christmas photos marred by the ugly face of Santaphobia.

Perhaps the worst documented case of Santaphobia I know of was treated by a friend of mine. A little girl was brought in to see my friend, Eleanor, by her parents after she witnessed Santa being thrown in the pokey. It seems that Santa had a little too much Captain Morgan's in his morning egg nog and impatiently flicked this sweet child on the head for some minor misbehavior. As the incident escalated Santa was led away in cuffs. The poor little girl went into a tailspin, breaking all decorations that depicted jolly ole St. Nick, and stating she "hated" Santa. Poor child was clearly suffering from a raging case of Santaphobia.

If this post helps just one family,then I know sharing our own painful experience has been worth it.