Haphephobia: Fear of Being Touched- Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
One of the strangest phobias that can occur with anyone is haphephobia. It is a weird, and a rare type of fear of being touched by someone else. The person has a persistent and unexplainable fear that anyone would touch him/her. This is known as haphephobia.
It has been derived from Greek word “haphe” which mean touch. A person having haphephobia can instantly get a panic attack and dread a touch from anyone. In some cases of this phobia, the person may be scared of getting touched by only the opposite gender. A haphephobic person can form a healthy relationship with other people, but still get scared that they would be touched.
What Causes Haphephobia?
Haphephobia can be extensively caused by:
Haphephobia can be caused by a trauma. Distressful events like sexual assaults, rape and abuse may make the person dread any kind of touch. A touch may resemble such disturbing experience, and cause the person to be haphephobic.
Phobia is also related with heredity and genetic factors. Many people may have default personality traits of getting scared and anxious easily. Any small distressful event related with touch may trigger the phobia instantly. These people are more vulnerable to acquire haphephobia who already have a previous family history of phobias and anxiety.
The Symptoms of Haphephobia
Symptoms that indicate haphephobia in people are:
- Intense and irrational fear that someone might touch him/her
- In specific cases, a men may only fear touch from women and vice versa
- Avoiding any crowded or group activity to be away from getting touched
- Getting isolated
- Constant thoughts of getting touched and panicking
- Panic attacks with physical signs of shivering, increased heartbeat, sweating and clammy hands, dizziness and fainting, nausea or vomiting, hot and cold flushes and dry mouth
When to Visit a doctor?
Haphephobia is a serious issue. The person having haphephobia may avoid even getting out of his/her room and isolate oneself. This can disrupt his/her personal and professional life entirely. Such condition needs help from a professional mental health worker. If the above symptoms have lasted for a time period exceeding six months, visiting a doctor would be the best.
How is Haphephobia Treated?
A combination of psychotherapies and medicine can help to bring the phobia under control.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Haphephobia is mostly caused due to a related traumatic experience. CBT helps to bring out such negative experience memories, thoughts and images of a person. The therapist conducts healthy counseling sessions and replaces such negative thoughts or images with positive ones. The person would be able to share about the phobic experiences gradually, and release the distress through such therapies.
Exposure therapy with relaxation
Exposure therapy is signified by putting the person directly in front of a fearful subject. The exposure therapist prepares a setting where the person is liable to be touched, and let him/her react to it. The therapist also guides through different relaxation exercises such as meditation and mind visualizations to relax oneself during such exposures. The person can develop resistance for fear through such regular exposure sessions.
Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medicines are used to adjust brain chemicals such as Serotonin(a compound present in blood platelets and serum that constricts the blood vessels and acts as a neurotransmitter). These type of brain chemicals help to regulate the mood and temperament of a person.