Dr. Bashir: Most people are. When I was younger I was terrified of them.
Bashir: They seemed to know everything. It was as if they held the power of life and death in their hands. I used to think that if I didn't behave, they'd make sure I got sick.
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 a particular type of doctor (dentists or gastroenterologists or gynecologists, for example), maybe major surgery just gives you shivers, maybe you're Afraid of Needles or Afraid of Blood, maybe you were used for horrific medical experiments without your consent, maybe a doctor molested or raped you in the past using the examination as an excuse, maybe you were the victim of a medical error, maybe you just don't like to be touched, maybe you think this particular doctor or nurse is rumored to be insane, maybe it's a really invasive procedure, 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). Or maybe it's used as a disciplinary threat by your parent or guardian for being a naughty child. Or even maybe you're just getting a routine checkup, but the idea of someone else judging your lifestyle (your diet, your weight, your alcohol intake, etc.) makes you uneasy. 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 decent Character Development. 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. Animal characters may exhibit this response to veterinarians, particularly if Animals Fear Neutering or being Released to Elsewhere via euthanasia.
- Played with in Fruits Basket: Rin hates going to the doctor and escapes every time she's sent to the hospital, but this is more from her history of child abuse than a fear of doctors themselves; her parents abused her to the point she was hospitalized and visited her just to tell her they were kicking her out of the house and wanted nothing more to do with her.
- 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.
- Imadoki!: Tanpopo is terrified of going to the hospital and refuses to go, preferring to rely on her Chinese medicine at home because she and her mother were taken to the hospital after the car accident, and her mother died there later. Even when her Love Interest Koki finds her sick in the rain, he takes her to her home and undresses and dries her himself, since she hates going to the hospital that much.
- 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.
- In Lucky Star, Miyuki is afraid of going to the dentist, and often tries avoiding this even when she knows she should go.
- 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.
- Not only is he vary of medical treatment in general, but Yogi from Karneval utterly fears being anywhere near Doctor Akari. It's hilarious at first, but then we find out why, exactly, he's afraid of doctors as a whole and Akari in particular...
- 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.
- Dilandau seems to have this in The Vision of Escaflowne The Movie, and to a somewhat lesser extent in the anime series proper. Given what Dilandau has been through, however, one can hardly blame him.
- Makoto/Cure Sword of Doki Doki Precure is terrified of dentists, to the point where she nopes out of a group pose once she realizes the Monster of the Week is based off of dentists.
- In one episode of Calvin & Hobbes: The Series, Sherman develops a fear of the vet after Hobbes and Socrates repeatedly screw with him.
- The Emergency! fic Grin and Bear it has John Gage frightened of the dentist when he has a toothache. Its justified, because in the previous fic, Sea of Heartbreak, hes wrongly arrested and gets in a fight in jail that results in a broken jaw. Hes not treated the best at the hospital, and the work to set and wire his jaw is done with just local anesthetic. So by the time he has to see the dentist again, hes fearful of a panic attack.
- From Kill la Kill AU, we have Rei "the Drunk Secretary" Hou'oumaru and, while it's not precisely a fear, she has a distrust of doctors and hospitals for reasons mostly hinted at but remain unsaid.
- In The Nightmare House, Lana Loud is afraid of going to the doctor because she feels the saccharine decorations are trying too hard to make the doctor's seem like a happy place.
- One More Time, One More Chance extends Ryuko's Fear of Needles to this trope, due to some kind of experiences she's had in the past and the narration says she's always hated hospitals because of them.
- 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.
- In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the protagonist - who goes through a lot of trouble to play sick - claims being in a doctor's office is worse than being in school.
- 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, Bess Mossock, 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. It's not remotely helped by the fact that most wizards have an understanding of the non-magical world that's about a century out of date.
- Austin, the protagonist of Hollow Places, has an aversion for hospitals and the medical profession as a whole due to the agonizing months he once spent in an infirmary while recovering from being indirectly hit by a missile blast. Later in life, he is forced to rent out an unused hospital room since it's cheaper than living in an apartment. Waking up there makes him vividly recall bad memories of a doctor telling him that both his arm and his sister are gone.
- In the novel One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, the normally unflappable super-sleuth Hercule Poirot is revealed to have an embarrassing fear of the dentist.
- 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.
- In the Discworld, veteran postman Tulliver Groat has a lifelong fear of doctors - understandable, given what prior to Dr Mossy Lawn was their general quality and outlook. He therefore self-medicates and has done for seventy years. Which causes consternation when he is injured in a fire and a really good doctor has to tend to his injuries. To get to the wounds, they have to fight through seventy years' accretions of goose-grease, newspaper, saltpetre, sulphur and charcoal. These latter three healing ingredients are a real problem.
- In the Fairy Oak series, the most powerful Wizard of the Dark, Duff Burdock, is very afraid of Dr. Chesnut Pestemon. He avoids him for weeks, despite having a huge wound in his leg, saying he's afraid the doctor would use his "damn ointment" on it.
- 4400: Noah is nervous about letting Doc inspect him, with his fear implied to be a result of negative past experiences due to being transgender. Doc helps him sympathetically though, and it turns out is a trans man too.
- Dick in the Halloween Episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun.
- Pediatrician Sean Jamison from The Brian Keith Show, 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.
- Call the Midwife: Its a repeated problem for the midwives and Dr Turneras you might expect in a relatively conservative working class area like the mid-century East End:
- 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.)
- Strangely for someone who was at the cutting edge of modern obstetrics in her day, Sister Monica Joan is suspicious and afraid of the modern medicine of the 1950s-60s. On separate occasions she has resisted penicillin, chest x-rays, and cataract surgery. However, she always gives in in the end.
- 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.
- Donkey Hodie: In "The Lavender Lights", we learn that Bob Dog used to be afraid of going to the dentist until he bought his fuzzy ball, Howard, with him.
- Martin has this: Martin hurts himself after playing basketball and when his wife Gina suggests they hit the hospital, he shudders and protests his Mother's remedies will fix him up.
- 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.
- My Left Nut: Justified. Patricia hates hospitals and doctors due to the trauma of having to spend a long time doing futile exams and treatments while her husband slowly died.
- 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 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, both Jadzia and Bashir were afraid of doctors as children. Bashir was afraid of them because he thought they knew everything and could make him sick, so he became one to find out how they worked. Although his unwilling genetic augmentation may have also played a role.
- 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).
- For the People has Sandra, though she's more afraid of hospitals in general. Her mom died when she was younger, but she was too scared to go into her room to say goodbye and thus never got the chance.
- Punky Brewster is stricken with appendicitis in the episode "Ouch." She's not so much afraid of doctors or hospital as she is being operated on.
- A question posited to the celebrity couples on Tattletales in 1974 was "Which of you is braver at facing the dentist?" Dick Gautier said he was a professed crybaby when it comes to the dentist so his wife Barbara Stuart was braver. They matched. The other couples didn't fare as well.
Julie London: I have born five children, and I would rather bear five more than go to the dentist.
- In Power Rangers: Beast Morphers, Ravi has a fear of dentists because of the drills to the point one attempt with Ben and Betty causes all three to run when they mistake someone drilling in a shelf for a dentist drill. When Nate is forced to confront his fear of spiders, Ravi decides to give the dentist another try and powers through.
- Young Sheldon: In "Mitch's Son and the Unconditional Approval of a Government Agency", Connie won't go to the doctor because her husband died shortly after a doctor's visit.
- Once Twisted Sister guitarist Eddie Ojeda was afraid of an oncoming throat surgery, singer Dee Snider homaged this with "Under the Blade" (which Tipper Gore misinterpreted as an Obligatory Bondage Song).
- The video for Pat Benatar's song, "Anxiety (Get Nervous)" deals with her biggest fear - going to the dentist.
- 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 Suitor 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.
- The Dog in Footrot Flats is terrified of going to the vet. Major does not have the same problem, which the Dog puts down to him being too stupid to be scared.
- Calvin causes his pediatrician no end of grief because of this. Poor guy almost recanted the Hippocratic Oath.
- There are only a few things Orks fear in Warhammer 40,000: being eaten alive, not having anything to fight, and a visit to the Dok. This is largely because Ork Doks are, to a hulking fungus monster, delusional maniacs who run a Meatgrinder Surgery in which procedures are based less on "what does the patient need" and more on "what would be more fun for the Dok". The Gaiden Game Gorkamorka has six pages of rules for visiting the Dok afterwards, including results like "Dok forgets what he was doing and operates on the wrong part of the patient's body", "Dok bolts a thruster pack to the patient's spine", and "Dok replaces the patient's brain with that of a feral face-biter squig".
- 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.
- Ménage à 3: In one plot sequence (originally a Kickstarter/print bonus story), lead character Gary is reduced to a quivering heap by the prospect of a blood test; he turns out to be very, very Afraid of Needles. In fact, he faints at the moment the hypodermic goes in, and the rest of the story is All Just a Dream. Somewhat ironically, perhaps, he later ends up dating a nurse.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: In the Norway segment of the Distant Prologue, Aksel wants his grandmother to stay with him during the worst of an epidemic in part because, according to him, she's afraid of hospitals and hence won't go to one on her own if she gets sick. According to Aksel, it's because "she thinks they'll give her cancer".
- In the Fred video "Fred Goes to the Doctor", Fred reveals he's scared of doctors. After getting back from the physical, he rants about how they pricked his finger right when they got there, they made him urinate in a cup, and that they gave him a chickenpox shot, which there had to be poison in. Then he learns out that maybe it wasn't that bad.
- All of the Cream Heroes cats fear going to the vet to some degree (with the possible exception of Nana) but the biggest offenders are TT and Lala. The former hisses and growls in panic when she sees Doctor Kim while the latter has a habit of clinging to Claire's shoulders and back when being examined.
- In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Mad Love", Gordon expresses his dislike of going to the dentist; what happens in the next scene clearly doesn't change that opinion.
- In Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Daniel is afraid of going to the doctor, especially when he has to get shots, but sometimes he gets nervous even if he doesn't have to get a shot.
- In the Dragon Tales episode "Calling Dr. Zak", it is revealed that Zak is afraid of going to the doctor, even after getting a thorn stuck in his foot while he and Wheezie were practicing their dancing for the Dance Contest.
- 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 Life With Loopy short "The Fang Fairy", it's revealed that Larry is afraid of dentists.
- Quack Quack from Kaeloo seems to be afraid of doctors, possibly because he was experimented on scientists as a duckling.
- King of the Hill:
- An episode reveals Lucky has this problem. The plot consists of the adults helping Luanne catch him before his injury becomes infected or worse. He says a lot of people he knew died in hospitals, of course they had after finally going there at the last minute.
- Hank is also apprehensive about seeing doctors about the various problems he encounters. More often than not, the doctor he sees gives him proper medical advice that Hank likely should've sought earlier.
- The plot of the Mickey Mouse (2013) episode "Flipper-boo-boo-tosis" reveals that Donald is scared of doctors, and so Mickey and Goofy try to find other ways to cure his condition, before finally getting him to the doctor, and having him realize he had nothing to be afraid of.
- In the PAW Patrol episode "Pups Save a Toof", both Chase and Alex are afraid of going to the dentist, so the PAW Patrol helps them face their fears.
- 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: Dentist!!? [Runs away screaming].
Private: But... we don't have teeth.
- Actually, it could be seen as Fridge Brilliance, because although penguins and other birds don't technically have teeth, all zoo animals are required to have oral checkups, making Kowalski's fear of the dentist (at least somewhat) rational.
- 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.
- 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 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 turn out to be so well.
- In "The Check-Up", Mr. Krabs is revealed to be afraid of doctors and refuses to take his annual physical at the Krusty Krab. SpongeBob and Squidward are then forced to give him a physical exam without him knowing.
- Muskie and Vincent Van Gopher are hired by the local dentist to retrieve Deputy Dawg for his annual checkup. DD is scared witless of the dentist so Muskie and Vince earn their money in getting him there.
- Tuca from Tuca & Bertie is afraid of doctors after losing her mother in a car accident. This is illustrated in the episode "Yeast Week", where she develops a pain in her side and refuses to go until a stranger takes her.
- Many medical professionals, surprisingly (or not so surprisingly). Most (if not all) of them, when they get ill themselves - all are to one degree or another (usually another) nerve-wracked hypochondriacs and big babies; and many also have this trope. The reason is part knowing just how much can break in a human being and how easily that happens - and part the usual human reaction to learning about disease: everything you know exists, you think you have it. There is even a medical condition called "medical student syndrome": when someone starts studying medicine, they are a really bad hypochondriac for awhile (though luckily most of it doesn't last). So if you are afraid of doctors - talk to your doctor: the chances are very good your doctor can relate, because they are in the same boat (or at the very least, they were once).
- Some dogs are like this for veterinary visits, which leads their owners to Censorship by Spelling, but it's much more common for their owners to be afraid, and the dog picks up in this. Some vets will call an assistant to hold the pet, or even ask you to leave the room, during particularly scary-looking procedures so you don't extend this fear to your pet (and also because trained staff can hold a pet safely in ways that won't scare or hurt them, which most owners don't know how to do). Mostly averted, as most dogs come in happy and wagging. If a dog is afraid to come to the vet, making regular visits to the animal hospital for petting and treats without an actual doctor visit can help get them used to the experience.
- Cats are often just as scared of going to the vet as dogs are, and many come to associate their carriers with going there, leading them to hide whenever the carrier comes out of the closet. (Solution: Just leave the carrier out and toss treats in every so often so they don't only associate bad things with it.) Also zig-zagged as it's usually actually the car ride there that freaks cats out: unlike dogs who are proto-car-ride-addicts from puppies, cats are near-universally scared by them. Once they are at the vet's, there are numerous techniques to make them feel comfortable and safe.
- Horses, being naturally flighty animals, are prone to it. And it can be dangerous given now large they are. Sedatives may be needed to calm the animal enough to do an exam in some cases. Another method of calming horses is a twitch, a pole with a loop on the end thats looped around a part of the upper mouth skin. It doesnt hurt the horse and it focuses the horses attention on whats happening there, rather than what the vets doing.
- 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, although modern topical anesthetics and giving injections slowly can eliminate most of the pain.
- 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 Menounos, the Entertainment Weekly journalist, is afraid of doctors after she was molested by one when she was a kid.
- This is not uncommon in many communities of color due to a history of doctors experimenting on slaves and unsuspecting patients (the Tuskegee experiments, for one) and even many women of color being sterilized against their own will and without their knowledge. Also high poverty rates in marginalized communities can also contribute to the lack of access to adequate health care.