In psychiatry, oikophobia (synonymous with domatophobia and ecophobia)[1] is an aversion to home surroundings. It can also be used more generally to mean an abnormal fear (a phobia) of the home, or of the contents of a house ("fear of household appliances, equipment, bathtubs, household chemicals, and other common objects in the home").[2] The term derives from the Greek words oikos, meaning household, house, or family, and phobos, meaning "fear".

In 1808 the poet and essayist Robert Southey used the word to describe a desire (particularly by the English) to leave home and travel.[3] Southey's usage as a synonym for wanderlust was picked up by other nineteenth century writers.

The term has also been used in political contexts to refer critically to political ideologies that repudiate one's own culture and laud others. The first such usage was by Roger Scruton in a 2004 book.

Psychiatric usage[edit]

In psychiatric usage oikophobia typically refers to fear of the physical space of the home interior, and is especially linked to fear of household appliances, baths, electrical equipment and other aspects of the home perceived to be potentially dangerous.[2] The term is properly applied only to fear of objects within the house. Fear of the house itself is referred to as domatophobia.[2] In the post-World War II era some commentators used the term to refer to a supposed "fear and loathing of housework" experienced by women who worked outside the home and who were attracted to a consumerist lifestyle.[4]

Southey's usage[edit]

Southey used the term in Letters from England (1808), stating that it is a product of "a certain state of civilisation or luxury", referring to habit of wealthy people to visit spa towns and seaside resorts in the summer months. He also mentions the fashion for picturesque travel to wild landscapes, such as the highlands of Scotland.[5] Southey's link of oikophobia to wealth and the search for new experiences was taken up by other writers, and cited in dictionaries.[6] A writer in 1829 published an essay about his experience witnessing the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo, saying "the love of locomotion is so natural to an Englishman that nothing can chain him home, but the absolute impossibility of living abroad. No such imperious necessity acting upon me, I gave away to my oiko-phobia and the summer of 1815 found me in Brussels."[7] In 1959 the Anglo-Egyptian author Bothaina Abd el-Hamid Mohamed used Southey's concept in his book Oikophobia: or, A literary craze for education through travel.[8]

Political usage[edit]

In his 2004 book England and the Need for Nations, British conservative philosopher Roger Scruton adapted the word to mean "the repudiation of inheritance and home."[9] He argued that it is "a stage through which the adolescent mind normally passes",[10] but that it is a feature of some, typically leftist, political impulses and ideologies which espouse xenophilia, i.e. preference for alien cultures.[11]

Scruton uses the term as the antithesis of xenophobia.[12] In his book, Roger Scruton: Philosopher on Dover Beach, Mark Dooley describes oikophobia as centered within the Western academic establishment on "both the common culture of the West, and the old educational curriculum that sought to transmit its humane values." This disposition has grown out of, for example, the writings of Jacques Derrida and of Michel Foucault's "assault on 'bourgeois' society result[ing] in an 'anti-culture' that took direct aim at holy and sacred things, condemning and repudiating them as oppressive and power-ridden."[13]

Derrida is a classic oikophobe in so far as he repudiates the longing for home that the Western theological, legal, and literary traditions satisfy. . . . Derrida's deconstruction seeks to block the path to this 'core experience' of membership, preferring instead a rootless existence founded 'upon nothing.'[14]

An extreme aversion to the sacred and the thwarting of the connection of the sacred to the culture of the West is described as the underlying motif of oikophobia; and not the substitution of Judeo-Christianity by another coherent system of belief. The paradox of the oikophobe seems to be that any opposition directed at the theological and cultural tradition of the West is to be encouraged even if it is "significantly more parochial, exclusivist, patriarchal, and ethnocentric."[15] Scruton described "a chronic form of oikophobia [which] has spread through the American universities, in the guise of political correctness." [16]

Scruton's usage has been taken up by some American political commentators to refer to what they see as a rejection of traditional American culture by the liberal elite. In August 2010 James Taranto wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Oikophobia: Why the liberal elite finds Americans revolting", in which he criticized supporters of the proposed Islamic center in New York as oikophobes who were defending Muslims who aimed, in his words, to "exploit the 9/11 atrocity".[17] In the Netherlands, the term oikophobia has been adopted by politician and writer Thierry Baudet, which he describes in his book, Oikophobia: The fear of home.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kahn, Ada (2010). The Encyclopedia of Phobias, Fears, and Anxieties, Third Edition. p. 552.
  2. ^ a b c Ronald Manual Doctor, Ada P. Kahn, Christine A. Adamec. The encyclopedia of phobias, fears, and anxieties. Third edition. Infobase Publishing, 2008. Page 281; p. 286.
  3. ^ Southey, Robert (1808). Letters from England, Volume 1. David Longworth. p. 311.
  4. ^ Robert G. Moeller, Protecting motherhood: Women and the family in the politics of postwar West Germany, University of California Press, 1993, p.140.
  5. ^ Robert Southey, Letters from England, vol 1., David Longworth, 1808, pp. 157-9.
  6. ^ Richard Black, The student's manual complete; an etymological vocabulary of words derived from the Greek and Latin, Oxford, 1874, p.84.
  7. ^ "Waterloo, the Day After the Battle, by an eyewitness", The United service magazine, Volume 1829, Issue 1, p. 84.
  8. ^ Bothaina Abd el-Hamid Mohamed, Oikophobia;: Or, A literary craze for education through travel, Anglo-Egyptian Books, 1959.
  9. ^ Roger Scruton, England and the Need for Nations, (London: Civitas, 2004), pp.33-38 and for the excerpt of Scruton's definition [1]
  10. ^ Scruton, Roger. "Continuum - Political Philosophy > Roger Scruton". Continuumbooks.com. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
  11. ^ Roger Scruton, "Oikophobia and Xenophilia", in Stereotypes and Nations, Teresa Walas (ed), Cracow International Cultural Center, 287-292.
  12. ^ Justine Lacroix, Kalypso Nicolaīdis, European Stories: Intellectual Debates on Europe in National Contexts, Oxford University Press, 2011, P.159.
  13. ^ Dooley, p. 78
  14. ^ Dooley, p. 83
  15. ^ Mark Dooley, Roger Scruton: Philosopher on Dover Beach (Continuum 2009), p. 78
  16. ^ [2] Roger Scruton, The Need for Nations, Civitas, February 2004, P.37.
  17. ^ Taranto, James (27 August 2010). "Oikophobia: Why the liberal elite finds Americans revolting". Best of the Web. The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved 26 June 2016.