Mathematical Anxiety Causes Pain


According to psychologists from the University of Chicago, the phobia of math can cause actual physical pain. In their latest study, they've discovered that some of their students who were not well enough prepared for math class experienced unusual brain activity in the parts of the brain that are also responsible for pain.

A similar phenomenon was registered for the 1st time in 1972 and is known in conversational speech as mathematical anxiety or the fear of math.

To the scientists' great surprise, brain activity in the pain regions was absent when the students were actually solving problems. It was seen prior to this, when they were waiting for the actual test to start and consequently died down quickly.

During the study, there were recorded cases where even the simplest movements such as handing over a textbook or the mere mention of the word "math" caused painful sensations.

The fear of math can be seen as a legitimate condition since there are negative physical and psychological reactions present in it, and this is characteristic of other phobias as well, say scientists.


Math anxiety, no matter how unusual, is far from the strangest phobia a person can suffer. Among the weirdest are eisoptrophobia, the fear of mirrors and the panic felt when seeing one's own reflection; anthophobia or the fear of flowers, where certain species can bring about genuine panic with just some of their parts, such as the stem or leaves; chorophobia, expressed in the panicked fear of dancing, either with others or even alone.

Perhaps the most bizarre of all phobias is phobophobia, the fear of fear. It arises after stressful situations and/or phobias that a person has experienced in the past.

There are thousands of registered psychological conditions like these, with new phobias constantly cropping up, such as the fear of being left without cell phone service, Internet or a smart phone.


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