I have a friend who has a terrible fear of dams, water reservoirs, jetties or bridges with big blocks on water; in general, a fear of large buildings on water.

He often tells me that he imagines a dam near the gates and has "anxiety attacks" and becomes very afraid. However, he is not afraid of swimming, or common places with water, like the ocean, pools and so on. On the contrary, he loves to swim.

While he is not afraid of pools, he is very afraid of the wells of the pools where the water enters or where is filtered.

building over a stream bridge over river

His psychologist doesn't know the name of such a phobia and, after a while, his diagnosis was hydrophobia. The problem is that he is not afraid of water, only these large structures over the water, whose purpose is to control water flow.

How can I get information about this phobia; is there a specific name?
And how can be treated?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is there some traumatic event related to dams in his past (perhaps as a small child)? This would at least answer the why. Therapy as mentioned by @Michael Anderson might be exposure therapy. Mine involved going to the beach a lot. $\endgroup$
    – user3169
    Dec 28, 2015 at 6:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Apparently he's not alone... isitnormal.com/story/dams-scare-the-hell-out-of-me-33919, missouriwomenbloggers.com/2013/10/23/… $\endgroup$
    – joe_young
    Dec 28, 2015 at 21:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I have had this same fear since I was a child. I thought I was alone in this. $\endgroup$
    – user10723
    Feb 13, 2016 at 3:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've found so many posts on mechanophobia and submechanophobia, but never one that exactly describes my phobia. Just looking at pictures of pump stations, offshore oil rigs, bridges, etc. gives me a panic attack. I've never heard of this fear from anyone else, so it's good to know that I'm not alone. $\endgroup$
    – Tay
    May 24, 2017 at 5:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I actually have the same kind of phobia. I'm terrified of dams with really no reason. I always have been. Some of the earliest dreams I can remember are about dams. Nothing really specific tho. I've never heard of a term for it. It's just an irrational fear which is fairly normal. Most people have at least 1 irrational fear. $\endgroup$ Jan 17, 2018 at 21:38

1 Answer 1


As far as I know, there is no specific definition for this phobia. No search reveals anything similar. It is important to recognise that simply defining phobias is not medically useful and does not provide further insight into human cognition. It would not be efficient to provide a label for all the phobias which exist. Generally labels are created when the population of people with the disorder reaches some threshold that specific treatments are developed. Your friend simply has a "specific phobia" of the situational type (also see Wikipedia entry).

I imagine treatment would be the same as for most specific phobias. Generally this involves a form of CBT known as exposure therapy or graded exposure.

If you desperately require a definition, I like hydrostructuraphobia - taken from latin word for structure.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.