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Explaining Haphephobia: The Fear of Being Touched

Haphephobia constant and indescribable fear of being touched / Photo By Koldunov via Shutterstock

 

There is a myriad of phobias out there.  Although most of them are unavoidable, there is one phobia that is almost impossible to dodge according to factualfacts.com--it is being touched.

Haphephobia, which comes from the Greek word “haphe”, meaning touch is defined by healthtopia.net as the constant and indescribable fear of being touched by other people. Sometimes, it can be specifically fearing the touch of the opposite gender.

A person with this condition who accidentally gets touched may feel dread or get into a panic attack.

Having haphephobia should not cause someone to forever be paralyzed with fear. With a clear understanding of what it is, its symptoms and how to treat it, an individual suffering from this condition can be cured or at least the anxiety they feel be lessened when a person touches them intentionally or unintentionally.

Causes

To begin, we will discuss why a person may have for being extremely afraid of being touched. Haphephobia can be caused by other underlying phobias or disorders, some past experiences or can run in the family.

Here are some of the reasons why someone might suffer from it:

1. Trauma - The person may have experienced some form of sexual assault, abuse or other similar traumatic experiences.

2. Heredity - If the family has a history of anxiety or phobias and anxiety, a person will be likely to inherit it.

3. Other connected phobias - Medical News Today states that a person’s fear of touch may be related to:

- Mysophobia or the fear of germs.

- Ochlophobia, otherwise known as the fear of crowds.

4. It can also be related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or the fear of situations they are unable to control

5. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that is brought about by a traumatic experience like experiencing or seeing sexual assault

 

Some cases  of Haphephobia only involve fear of being touch by the opposite gender/ Photo By Roman Samborskyi

 

Symptoms

Moving on, let us indicate the signs that one has haphephobia.

According to healthtopia.net, a person who has it will exhibit the following symptoms:

- Extreme and irrational fear that anyone would try to touch them

- Some cases only involve fear of being touch by the opposite gender

- Trying to avoid activities where there are crowds or which involve groups to minimize the instances where they could get touched

- Isolating oneself from others

- Panicking at the constant thought of being touched

- Panic attacks which result to shivering, a quickened heartbeat, sweating, clammy hands, dizziness, fainting, nausea/vomiting and hot and cold flushes
 

Coping Mechanisms

Next, let us examine how a person can cope with this fear. These coping mechanisms can help the person return to their relaxed state so they do not go into a panic fit.

Factualfacts.com suggests what an individual afflicted with haphephobia can do to be more at ease:

- Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques - If the individual tries to focus on taking long deep breaths, it can help reduce the anxiety from being touched

- Being mindful of thought processes

- Exercising, relaxing and having enough sleep

In summary of how to use these coping mechanisms, self-care should be a priority.

 

Breathing exercises may help to deal with Haphephobia/ Photo By Pormezz via Shutterstock

 

Treatment

Lastly, a person who does not feel that coping mechanisms are enough to calm them down can choose to undergo therapies and medication. These types of therapies and medications are suggested by both healtopia.net and factualfacts.com.

Therapies

An individual with haphephobia may opt to go through the following therapies:

- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

In this kind of therapy, a therapist tries to bring the negative experience memories, thoughts, and images of a person. Then, through many counsel sessions, the therapist tries to replace them with positive ones. The expected outcome of this is that the patient would be able to relay their phobic experiences and that through this, they may get relieved from distress.

- Exposure Therapy

This type of therapy involves putting the person directly in front of the subject that they fear. The therapist does this by preparing a setting in which the patient is liable to be touched and lets them react to it. It is expected that from this therapy, the patient may develop a resistance to their fear of getting touched.

- Hypnotherapy

As defined by WebMD, this is a therapy that involves focused attention, the relaxation that is guided and intense concentration to make a person reach a heightened awareness called a trance. When the person becomes entranced, everything else is blocked out. This makes the patient only focus on specific thoughts or tasks while being assisted by the therapist.


 

Medication

Along with therapy, a person may use the aid of medicine for treatment. Below are some medicines a person suffering from haphephobia can use:

- Anti-anxiety medicine and Antidepressants

The anti-anxiety medicine and antidepressants will help regulate the brain chemicals like serotonin to help regulate their mood and temperament.

- Beta-blockers

These are medicines that stop the body’s fight-or-flight responses for awhile

 

If a person continues to suffer from this condition, a person cannot live a proper life. It will prevent a person from being able to form relationships, pursue education and especially deter them from getting a career.

Resorting to therapies and medications can help a person cease from being afraid of being touched. If a person utilizes treatment and coping mechanisms, their chances of being cured and being free from haphephobia go up.

To conclude, haphephobia, like most phobias is a fear that can be overcome. One should not let their fear impede their progress in life but instead serve as a challenge for them to tackle.


 

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