What is the Fear of Happiness?
Before discussing the Fear of Happiness Scale created by Gilbert et al. back in 2012, let’s briefly discuss the fear of happiness.
The Fear of Happiness, also known as Cherophobia, stems from the distorted belief that being happy, or too happy, will give rise to bad things later. Mohsen Joshanloo, a renowned psychologist known for his research on how cultural backgrounds contribute to a person’s psychology, believes that the fear of happiness stems from a person’s cultural background and beliefs and that this fear suppresses positive emotions.
The Fear of Happiness isn’t just a belief that being happy will result in harmful or unpleasant things happening. It also suggests that happiness makes you a morally worse person (quite extreme, to be honest). According to this belief, having positive emotions and expressing them is terrible for you and others, and pursuing happiness is also bad for you and others.
If you’re a mental healthcare professional handling a patient with a fear of happiness, they will likely believe the same beliefs mentioned earlier, and they will also have the following “symptoms” of the fear:
- They don’t want to express happiness because they believe it will upset others,
- They tend to avoid social situations and social gatherings,
- They even avoid being in relationships that will make them happy,
- And they might even reject significant life-changing opportunities that will bring them happiness and success!
Do note that the current edition of the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders doesn’t recognize the fear of happiness as a clinical disorder. This means that there are no standardized treatments for it and that it’s still being researched by experts. It can still be examined to see how this fear negatively impacts a person’s overall mental well-being. To gauge this, you can use the Fear of Happiness Scale that Gilbert et al. created.
How to use the Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert)
There are two Fear of Happiness Scales. One was made by Joshanloo, which is a five-item scale. However, we will discuss the second one, which Paul Gilbert and his fellow researchers made. This version has nine items.
There are two ways to use this Fear of Happiness Scale. You can choose to use this scale as an interview questionnaire. If you opt for that method, you need to explain what this scale is to the patient, then ask them to rate themselves based on each item using the preset answers of the test. This will take longer to finish, but at the very least, you can get your patient to expound on their answers on the spot.
The other method is to hand a copy of the scale to the patient and have them answer it independently. They can even take it home. If you’re handing them a copy to accomplish independently, agree on when they should submit a fully-accomplished copy of the scale.
Either way, they simply need to rate the following items:
- I worry that if I feel good, something bad could happen
- Feeling good makes uncomfortable
- I find it difficult to trust positive feelings
- Good feelings never last
- When you are happy, you can never be sure that something is not going to hit you out of the blue
- If you feel good, you let your guard down
- I don’t let myself get too excited about positive things or achievements
- I feel I don’t deserve to be happy
- I am frightened to let myself become too happy
They can select one of the following for each item:
- Not at all like me = 0 points
- A little bit like me = 1 point
- Moderately like me = 2 points
- Quite a bit like me = 3 points
- Extremely like me = 4 points
This scale doesn’t have any score ranges or designations to work with, but the higher the score is, the higher the severity level of their fear of happiness. It’s best to use their self-ratings as discussion points for the next session to understand better why they rated themself as such for each item.
Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert) Example
Now you know the basic gist of what the fear of happiness s and its symptoms are, and also what Gilbert’s version of the Fear of Happiness Scale is like and how it is answered, it’s time for you to see what it looks like. We simply adapted the scale created by Gilbert and his team. We added radio buttons and a comments box so you can jot down information your patient gives you regarding their answers.
If you believe that this scale will help you gauge your patient well enough to help you determine what you can do for them, then download our free Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert) PDF Template!
When is it best to use the Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert)?
Considering the limited nature of the Fear of Happiness Scale, which consists of just nine items and lacks a clear scoring range, it is advisable to administer the Fear of Happiness Scale when you have already advanced to the middle phase of your care/therapy program.
Your patient must have already deemed you worthy of your trust. The reason why this should be issued in the middle of your program is that they are more likely to be willing to talk to you about their unhappiness, their views on happiness, and the factors that contribute to their feelings of unhappiness and fear of happiness. These are topics that they will likely not talk about with you if they don’t trust you yet, so make sure to break the ice first!
Once they’re comfortable with you, they will start to open up to you. If they ever bring up the topic of unhappiness and they seem to have a negative view of happiness, then that’s your signal to issue the scale at some point. If they don’t have negative views on happiness, then this scale is useless, but if they do, you can gauge their fear of and aversion to happiness.
What are the benefits of using the Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert)?
It can easily be accomplished within a few minutes and is inexpensive.
The Fear of Happiness Scale, developed by Gilbert and his team, consists of nine items patients can rate themselves on a scale of 0 to 4. It is a straightforward process that doesn't require special preparation from the mental healthcare professional or the patient. As a mental healthcare professional, you can easily print multiple copies of the scale and keep them readily available for discussions with patients who express a fear or aversion towards happiness.
Alternatively, you can utilize our PDF template and conveniently send it to patients via email. Since no calculations are involved, you don't need to worry about equations or scoring. Once you receive a completed copy from the patient, you can delve deeper into their answers and determine the appropriate course of action based on the information provided.
It can help professionals determine how distorted their patient’s view of happiness is.
Remember that the higher the patient’s total score, the higher the severity level of the patient’s fear of happiness. If their answers score high on the scale, you can ask them to explain why they answered the way they did for each item to help you understand where they are coming from and to elucidate the nuances of their views on happiness. If their views on happiness are distorted, they can be corrected through therapy like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy using CBT techniques and having them engage in CBT activities to reconfigure how they view happiness.
It can be used to monitor patients later on.
The Fear of Happiness Scale (Gilbert) can be utilized on multiple occasions, such as during routine check-ups. Consider a scenario where you have been conducting Cognitive Behavioral Therapy sessions to address your patient's distorted perceptions of happiness. Naturally, you would be interested in assessing whether they are experiencing any changes due to the therapy.
One way to gauge this is by re administering the Fear of Happiness Scale and comparing their responses. If their answers differ and their scores are lower, it can be reasonably inferred that your treatment approach is yielding positive results. However, if there is no notable change, it may be necessary to make adjustments and observe whether those modifications prove effective.
How can Carepatron help with mental health-related work?
If you are a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, therapist, or an adjacent mental healthcare professional, we hope you’ve enjoyed reading this mini-guide about Gilbert’s version of the Fear of Happiness Scale. We also hope that the template tied to it is helpful.
Now, while we still have you, we’d like to humbly ask for your time to explore more of the Carepatron platform, if you haven’t! We have numerous features that we believe could benefit professionals such as you!
One of the features that we’re sure you’ll love is our repository of clinical resources. This repository is filled with clinical resources from numerous healthcare fields and topics, especially mental health! We have worksheets that can help you get to know your patients better,, assessments that can be used to gauge symptoms of possible mental health problems they have, and survey templates to help you build surveys so you can find out how your patient feels about your therapy/counseling program, and even progress note templates to help you organize your notes! The great thing about all this is that the resources are free, so you can download as much as you want and need!
Another cool feature is our storage system, though you have to subscribe to us to access it. If you do subscribe, this system will allow you to store your clinical files with us in a HIPAA-compliant manner! This means that even we can’t access them. We take HIPAA’s mandates seriously, so our storage system only allows you as the person who can dictate who gets access permissions or not. Cool, huh?
Storing files with us is the same as creating backups of your files that you can redownload anytime! If you lose your physical or digital copies, you can rest easy knowing that you can redownload your files from your storage under us!
We, at Carepatron, are committed to helping healthcare professionals with their work, so take advantage of our platform so we can find ways to streamline your workflows and help you preserve your work!