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Antonym of claustrophobic

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ewanog, Apr 8, 2007.

  1. ewanog Junior Member

    UK, english and portuguese

    I was wondering what you would consider to be the antonym of claustrophobic [Fear of closed spaces]. We were doing greek roots in english and my somewhat airheaded english teacher said that it was [SIZE=-1]Agoraphobia [Fear of wide open spaces].

    It doesn't seem logical that she'd say that because it would be like saying the opposite of a big black thing would be a big white thing, when i reality a small black thing would be the opposite.

    In my opinion, I think the correct opposite is the word meaning loving closed spaces [Although I'm not sure what that is].

    Who is right, or do both antonyms make sense?

  2. vachecow Senior Member

    USA English
    You bring up several interesting points.

    I would say the opposite would be a small white thing. I guess its a matter of opinion and of your definition of opposite.

    Using my logic you could say that the antonym of claustrophobic would be loving wide open spaces.
  3. ewanog Junior Member

    UK, english and portuguese
    Hm that's interesting.

    I though about what you said before but I didn't quite think it right as wouldn't that be creating a double negative?

    Small spaces + Fear >> Open spaces + love

    I always just thought that when you made a compound word negative you only reversed one part
  4. vachecow Senior Member

    USA English
    Thats a good point. I never thought about it like that. I don't think there are words that describe people that love things like there are for fearing.
  5. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    Medically speaking agoraphobia is the fear of public spaces (where people are gathered), but yes, I would say the opposite of claustrophobia is an abnormal liking of enclosed spaces, claustrophilia.
  6. vachecow Senior Member

    USA English
    I stand corrected.
  7. . 1 Senior Member

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    Agorophobia is a fear of the market place or a fear of the public gathering space.
    It is in effect a fear of people in groups not of the space involved. I imagine that an agorophobic may have more ease with 100 people gathered in a large area rather than 50 people gathered in a smaller area. It is to do with population density and the perception of loss of control of the situation.

    I will guess that the opposite of agorophobia is exhibitionism.

  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The definition of agoraphobia:
    1873 Jrnl. Mental Sc. XIX. 456 Dr. C. Westphal has an article on Agoraphobia; by this he means the fear of squares or open places.
  9. . 1 Senior Member

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    The Collins dictionary;
    agora n a the market place in Athens, used for popular meetings, or any similar place of assembly in ancient Greece. b the meeting itself.

    agora n an Israeli monetary unit worth one hundredth of a shekel. [Hebrew, from agor to collect.

    agorophobia n a pathological fear of being in public places, often resulting in the sufferer becoming housebound.

    It is clear to me that the root of the word is in the gathering of people.

    I will bet that an agorophobic would freak out if the Local Football Team or Girl Guide Group or Bridge Club flooded into his house.

    The fear of the marketplace is not the fear of the place itself but rather the people in the marketplace.
    An agorophobic will be afraid of an empty market place but the same fear will not be there of a wide open empty plain. One place is associated with bustling noisy confusing crowds and the other a calm serenity.

    My suspicion is that agorophobia is a paranoia associated with cities and dense population pressures.

  10. . 1 Senior Member

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    I just did a quick google and found these little gems from the same era.

    I will pass on the definitions of mental illness from Victorian England.


    Bucknill, J.C. , 'Address on idiocy', Journal of Mental Science, xix (1873), 169-83. Pinel, P., A Treatise on Insanity (London: Cadell & Davis, 1806).

    The Morrisonian Lectures on Insanity for 1873”, Journal of Mental Science, XIX. (1874), cited in Hare, “Masturbatory Insanity”.

    J. L. H. Down, "Observations on an Ethnic Classification of Idiots," London Hospital Reports, 1866 ; reprinted in Journal of Mental Science 13 (1867)
  11. retro New Member

    England - English
    We usually say that the opposite of claustrophobia is agorophobia. Of course, technically the opposite is "normality" (if that is what you would like to call it), because the opposite of a fear of something is no fear of it.

    Agorophobia doesn't have to be confined to cities. You can be agoophobic and live in the countryside. It is the fear of open places - basically of going outside. I guess that, whilst claustrophobia gives you a sense of being trapped in a small space, agorophobia gives you a sense of being open to the elements, to attack, not being in a place of safety.
  12. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Fear of enclosed spaces: claustrophobia (claustrophobic)

    Fear of open spaces: agoraphobia (agoraphobic)

    Sometimes people on these forums are just too clever!

  13. Hovjm23 Junior Member

    US English
    That is the technicality you can shut your teacher up with.
  14. . 1 Senior Member

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    Which source gives this definition?

  15. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Well, for example, here; although I'm aware that the meaning may be wider than this.
  16. . 1 Senior Member

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    You seem to have truncated your own source.
    The main component is not the space but the expectation of encountering an uncomfortably large group of the public. Agoraphobia is really an extreme case of shyness.
    Sufferers can deal with other people only in situations where the sufferer can rapidly escape to a private sanctum. Fear of embarrasment is the key.

    Agoraphobia is a form of anxiety disorder. The name is literally translated as "a fear of the marketplace", from the Greek agora, and thus of open or public spaces. Many people suffering from agoraphobia, however, are not afraid of the open spaces themselves, but of situations often associated with these spaces, such as social gatherings. Others are comfortable seeing visitors, but only in a defined space they feel in control of--such a person may live for years without leaving his home, while happily seeing visitors and working, as long as they can stay within their safety zone.
    http://bipolarworld.net/Bipolar Disorder/Concurrent Disorders/dis9.htm

  17. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I quoted the short definition that seems to have spawned this debate (post #8) only to make the point that when the term was coined the reference to agora was to the place, not the crowd. Like many words, the meaning and the understanding of agoraphobia has evolved over time.

    In 1871,the German psychiatrist Carl Otto Westphal first used it as a term for patients who displayed a morbid fear of open public places.
    Increasing understanding of the condition has since resulted in extension to the more modern definitions given. A quick review of published information suggests that it may be triggered by any of a wide range of situations in which the sufferer feels he will be unable reach a place of safety. The situations range from those described originally by Westphal (open squares, bridges, empty streets) to crowds, public transport, and even lifts.
  18. . 1 Senior Member

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    So it is the fear of people that is the key again.
    If agorophobia can be triggered in the same space as claustrophobia then it is apprent that the trigger is the potential of people in the place not the place in and of itself. To the agorophobic the bridge or the space on top of the bridge is not a problem it is the fear that people will enter at both ends and leave no escape route.

    Back to the antonym of claustrophobic. A speleologist would fit the bill.

  19. . 1 Senior Member

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    I am embarrassed to have just noticed your most excellent post.
    You are very good at this.

  20. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Leaving to one side speculation as to the possible causes of agoraphobia, and the current definitions of that condition, the small point that I was trying to make is that when the guy who first used the term did so, according to his own work he meant fear of open spaces, not fear of crowds.
  21. . 1 Senior Member

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    But this is not the current usage so it is confusing me.

  22. Gojhin New Member

    United States of America, English
    I personally have a weird phobia, (i think it was caused when i was still a baby for reasons too long to list) but it's somewhat the opposite of claustrophobia.
    I'm uncomfortable in rooms where the doors arent shut. and a little uncomfortable in rooms like living rooms where there arent doors at all, but only if i'm the only person in that room. though i'm completely fine with being outdoors and in open spaces. I've looked for something like this in the phobias sections of all my books and on the web but i haven't found anything but agoraphobia, which i don't have.
  23. mjscott Senior Member

    Welcome to WordReference Forum, Gojhin! I hope you find the answer to this and many more language questions that you may have.
  24. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    Not to be pedantic (or hopefully too much so), the antonym of claustrophobic would then be claustrophilic.
  25. Cagey non modo mod

    English - US
    I think this is good answer not only to the original post, but to Gojhin's recent question as well. It means "liking enclosed places" and has the advantage that many people will understand it.

    If, however, Gojihn, you prefer a term that reflects what you fear, how about "apertophobia" meaning "fear of openings"? This is a term I just made up; it's not (to my knowledge) a medical term. It gives you something to say, but you would still have to explain what you mean by it.

    I agree that there doesn't seem to be an official term for the precise anxiety you suffer.
  26. zanzi

    zanzi Senior Member

    in South Africa
    French from France
    Of course there are; they end up with the suffix - phile


    xeno- phile
  27. zanzi

    zanzi Senior Member

    in South Africa
    French from France
    I always thought and always heard that claustrophobic was the opposite of agoraphobic - so I agree with your teacher ! :thumbsup:
  28. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I feel the need to point out that there are different, all equally valid, meanings of "antonym".
    That is part of the difficulty in picking an agreed word that is the antonym of claustrophobic.
    A claustrophobe fears closed spaces.
    The antonym of claustrophobic may be someone who fears open spaces (the opposite of closed spaces) or one who loves closed spaces (the opposite of fears) or one who does not suffer from such a response (the opposite of abnormal).
  29. celtic man New Member

    o.k. we are looking for the oppsite to a particular phobia, NOT the opposite to phobia in general - in this case claustraphobia - therefore it can only be another phobia.Why do people always have to look for difficult answers to simple questions?
  30. Petraeus New Member

    As far as I understand it, the opposite would be "liking enclosed spaces" agoraphobia "fearing wide open spaces" would seem to fit the bill. This effect can be felt by anybody who has ever visited a university on a holiday. A usually crowded hallway seems eerie without the normal presence of a crowd.
  31. Vetinarii New Member

    English - UK
    Well said.

    Really, what people are arguing about here is less to do with the definition of "claustraphobia" or "agoraphobia" than the definition of "antonym" or "opposite".

    "Opposite" doesn't mean "as far removed as possible from the original" - if that were the case, then the opposite of "claustraphobia" would be something like "red". It means something that is like the original, but inverted.

    I think "agoraphobia" is a pretty good answer.
  32. PizzaPies New Member

    I've always considered the opposite of Claustrophobia, an abnormal fear of being in enclosed or narrow places, to be Kenophobia, the abnormal fear of open or empty spaces or voids.

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