So it's time for that routine checkup. The doctor is in, but you have a major problem. You have iatrophobia, the fear of doctors. You kick, scream, and whine that you don't want to go and that everything is fine. Who knows why you fear the doctor or what type you fear? Maybe you had a failed procedure, maybe you only fear dentists, maybe major surgery just gives you shivers, maybe you think this particular doctor or nurse is rumored to be insane, or maybe this professional is unlicensed to what s/he is trying to do (even if he or she is the closest thing you have
). Whatever the situation, you don't want to go and place your life in someone else's hands...
This was more justified in the past, before the introduction of anesthesia in surgery and the use of disinfectants to prevent infection and the spread of disease.
Can result in a case of The Patient Has Left the Building
. This trope makes for a decent Character Development
, and Tear Jerker
occasionally. Compare and contrast Depraved Dentist
, Mad Doctor
, and Morally Ambiguous Doctorate
: those are the kind of doctors you should fear. Also compare Afraid of Blood
and C.A.T. Trap
. This is the super trope of Afraid of Needles
. This is also a sub-Trope of Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?
Such characters left to their own devices may resort to Self-Surgery
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- In Gintama, an episode reveals that both Gintoki and HIjikata are afraid of the dentist despite being adults. The fact that they meet at a Depraved Dentist clinic didn't help.
- In Lucky Star, Miyuki is afraid of going to the dentist, and often tries avoiding this even when she knows she should go.
- The trope is named by Natsu Tanimoto from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. In his past, his father married a female doctor who promised to tend to his sister's sickness. After the doctor murdered his father, Natsu discovered that she [the doctor] never bothered tending to her, sprouting a seed for distrust in the boy.
- Jigen of Lupin III isn't afraid of regular doctors, but he hates going to the dentist. There was one story in the manga where he couldn't shoot straight due to a painful toothache that he refused to have looked at. Given that he's once been attacked by a venomous snake courtesy of an enemy agent disguised as a dentist, and also had a car crash into the dentist's room with him, this may be justified.
- Fujimaru from Snow White And Seven Dwarfs is a minor example, in that he doesn't make a fuss over it, but he mentions that he hates doctors and the medical environment in general when the group ends up visiting a Back-Alley Doctor. Given that he spent years locked up in a laboratory, being experimented on, it's hard to blame him.
Film — Live-Action
- In The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the Baron is afraid of doctors he can easily avoid the Anthropomorphic Personification of Death until the doctor comes in.
- The 1950's Doctor... series about a group of students, later young doctors, at London teaching hospital "St Swithins". In Doctor at Large, young doctor Simon Sparrow (Dirk Bogarde) encounters this reaction in a patient terrified of going in for an operation and has to persuade her the surgeon conducting the OP (who trained Sparrow) is the very best out there. This is based on the books by Richard Gordon, so this is also a Literature trope.
- In his Yorkshire Vet stories, James Herriot notes that older country folk in rural Yorkshire could be wary and apprehensive about visiting the doctor. (Part of this could be due to the fact that socialized medicine in Britain only began with the NHS in 1945: in the 1930's, going to the doctor involved paying him for his services, and poor people tried to avoid this until it was really necessary.) Herriot also noted many instances of vet-phobia among animals and their owners.)
- In Alan Garner's two fantasy novels set in rural Cheshire, especially in The Moon of Gomrath, the old farmer's wife has a strong rural English fear of doctors, displaying great reluctance at having Susan being seen by the medical profession during her coma (brought on by her being possessed by an old Celtic spirit of evil).
- Not exactly afraid, but Ron in one of the Harry Potter books described doctors as "those muggle nutters who cut people up". It's established later that wizards in general find non-magical medical treatment (like stitches) quite strange.
- In the Maximum Ride series, Max and the Flock have a general fear of doctors. She swallows it enough to get a quick check-up from Dr. Martinez, but that's only because Dr. Martinez had a very gentle demeanor (and because Max had to get a bullet wound looked at). Given that they were all held captive in dog cages by doctors for their formative years, this fear is understandable.
- Dick in the Halloween Episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun.
- In an episode of Monk, "Mr. Monk Goes to the Dentist," Monk reveals that dentists are among the many things he fears. The dentist in question, Dr. Oliver Bloom, becomes the main suspect in the episode's murder investigation, but Monk is afraid of the dentist's office even before he suspects Dr. Bloom.
- Which makes sense, since of all the various kinds of doctors, the dentist is objectively the scariest for most people in real life.
- Pediatrician Sean Jamison, played by the late Brian Keith, had such a good rapport with children that he was often misunderstood by adults who weren't parents. One of Doctor Jamison's patients was Alfred, the Magnificent Brat, who liked to draw the good doctor as a leering monster with an enormous syringe. This tended to terrorize the other young patients in the waiting room.
- Chick, Jules' father in Cougar Town, hasn't gone to the doctor in years and doesn't want to because at his age they're sure to find something wrong with him. Jules tries to trick him into going to the doctor, but bolts and hides in a crowd of old people. Eventually he does go to the doctor, where it turns out he had gone there a month before and forgot about it. They do find something wrong with him: he's in the first stages of Alzheimer's disease.
- Call the Midwife: Meg & Mave Carter, of 2x03. And it isn't just doctors they hate; nurses, midwives, medical orderlies bearing gifts... all personae non gratae. They'd much rather have tarot cards and a 17th century herbalist than any of your new-fangled nonsense. (Strangely enough, they change their minds after Mave has twins, a post-partum haemorrhage and a near-death experience and only survives thanks to modern medicine.)
- Daleks, for one. Maybe others.
- In one episode of Newhart, Joanna claimed she was afraid to go to the optometrist, or all things. (Bob tried to help by looking around; as he tells her, "I didn't find one who specialized in treating cowards, but I did find one who didn't laugh when I told him.")
- In Taxi, Alex was petrified of going to the dentist, and told Elaine to make an appointment and not tell him until it was time to go so he didn't have time to chicken out. (As fate would have it, something more important came up.)
- This one:
Doctor: There's nothing to worry about. It's just a little prick with a needle.
Patient: Yes, I know you are, Doctor, but will it hurt?
- When a missionary doctor first arrived in Bangalla in Lee Falk's The Phantom, he was distrusted by the natives. However, when their shaman routinely failed to cure their ills, the natives began coming to the genial, methodical doctor.
- Garfield has always dreaded having to go to the vet (which was embarrassing too, because Jon was something of a Hopeless Suiter to the lady vet Liz). When Jon and Liz started dating in recent years (making Liz a more frequent character in the strip) Garfield alternates between affectionate and nervous around her.
- In Cuanta Vida, the Blue Doctor is insane or at least immoral, but the trope itself is subverted by the Blue Heavy who has no problems being around and is very upset when the Doctor is killed.
- From the 23 January 2009 strip of Rick Griffin's Housepets!, Grape's first encounter with a veterinarian seemed like meeting Cthulhu. She still harbors a distrust of vets. Of note: animals in the Housepets! universe act much like furry children.
- In the Penguins of Madagascar episode "Needlepoint," Skipper is revealed to be Afraid of Needles. At the end, Kowalski sums up:
Kowalski: The point is, fear of medical professionals is completely unwarranted. Yes, the benefits to one's health and personal well being are much too important...
Alice: Looks like you penguins are due for a visit to the dentist.
Kowalski: The dentist? [screams and runs away]
- In SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Suds", Patrick tells SpongeBob that the doctor's is a horrible place to go. While SpongeBob believed him, he asked if Patrick could be his doctor, but that didn't help cure the suds. As Sandy took SpongeBob to the real doctor for the sponge treatment, he realizes that it isn't such a bad place after all and was given a lollipop. Proven wrong by this, Patrick asks for the sponge treatment, but he was proven right as the treatment didn't turned out to be so well.
- Jof the cat in Bruno Bozzetto's 1995 cartoon "Help!" goes to a hospital for a pricked finger. There, he encounters doctors who are evil or insane or both. The next time he pricks his finger, Jof stays home.
- In The Simpsons, Lisa's jazz-playing mentor "Bleeding Gums" Murphy got his odd nickname because he's afraid to go to the dentist.
- In Rugrats, Chuckie ends up getting this due to a bad visit to his doctor, Dr. Lector. He inflicts this on Tommy, who ends up overcoming it.
- Many dogs are like this for veterinary visits, which leads their owners to Censorship by Spelling.
- The mouth has a lot of nerves close to the surface and the tissue is softer than skin. This makes dental procedures surprisingly painful which is why they use numbing chemicals for major procedures. That doesn't stop the needle itself hurting.
- White coat syndrome is a real condition where a person's blood pressure is elevated in a clinical setting (but not in a more relaxed setting), presumably because of doctor-related anxiety.
- Some people feel humiliated in seeking help (even if from a licensed professional), or they may feel they know their condition better than the doctor. This fear is unexpectedly common, so don't be surprised if you come across someone like this.
- Maria Menounous, the Entertainment Weekly journalist, is afraid of doctors after she was molested by one when she was young.