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Ablutophobia: When Bath Time Is Dreadful

The unwanted fear of bathing, washing or cleaning is called Ablutophobia / Photo by Abel Halasz via Shutterstock

 

Ablutophobia is defined by I Heart Intelligence as the “persistent, abnormal, unwarranted fear of bathing, washing or cleaning.” It is considered a specific phobia. The name of this phobia was derived from the Latin term “abluto” which means “washing” and the Greek term “phobia” which means “fear”.  According to Verywell Mind, it is a condition that is found to be more common in women and children.

Causes of Ablutophobia

Like other phobias, the particular cause for ablutophobia is not known. Medical News Today suggests that these may be the possible causes for an individual to develop this phobia.

Genetic and Environmental Factors

If one of their family members has a record of suffering from a phobia, they are likely to be affected by it because of their genetic predisposition. Their experiences and upbringing may also contribute to the development of their phobia.

Trauma

They may have had a negative experience linked to bathing which caused them to be extremely afraid of water or bathing. For instance, they may witness one of their family members drown. Other people may have acquired the phobia after hearing about an accident or negative event associated with it. For example, they may have seen a person on TV getting injured while taking a bath in a bathtub.

Childhood aversion

Many children may try to stay away from bathing, either because they simply dislike it or maybe out of fear. The phobic may have disliked or were scared of anything that had to do with bathing as a child and continued to have that fear as they reached their adulthood.

Changes in Brain Function

The extreme fear of bathing may also be caused by changes in the brain prompted by aging or having a brain injury.

What Are Its Symptoms?

According to All About Counseling, a person who is affected by ablutophobia may exhibit symptoms such as panicking or feeling dread when they have to take a bath, they try to avoid bathing as much as possible, shaking, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath. In addition, they may also feel faint, experience dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, and they may suddenly sweat. Healthline says that children who suffer from Ablutophobia may cling, cry or show tantrums when they need to wash or take a bath.

Phobics are aware that their fear is irrational but could not stop being afraid of bathing. Having this extreme fear will restrict many parts of their life.

Treatments

Ablutophobia is usually treated with a combination of therapy and medication.

Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

If a phobic is subject to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, it may help them how they keep track of, believe and react to their feelings and their surroundings. Patients will be taught how to deal with their emotional reactions and will also help them take charge of their fear.

CBT has been known to effectively treat 75% of individuals who were affected by specific phobias.

Exposure Therapy

In this type of therapy, the phobic confronts their fear in a methodical and gradual manner. Patients will be asked to perform a series of steps that draw them nearer and nearer to their phobia.

For example, an individual who suffers from ablutophobia will be told to try turning on a shower. Later, the therapist may ask them to get into the shower with their clothes on. After some time, they start having longer and more complete baths.

 

Hypnotherapy will help patients change their behavior patterns / Photo by Wavebreakmedia via Shutterstock

 

Other Therapies and Treatment Methods

Common-phobias website suggests that people who have Ablutophobia may try other alternative therapies such as:

Hypnotherapy

In hypnotherapy, also known as hypnoanalysis, the patient’s subconscious mind is accessed by a professional therapist to make more receptive to suggestions which will help change their behavior patterns.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Neuro-Linguistic Programming is described as the study and practice of the way people form their reality. In NLP, it is believed that the words people use show the internal, subconscious way a person views their problems. If someone has incorrect perceptions or uses the wrong words, then they will keep having a problem if they continue to use them.

Energy Psychology

This therapy uses several techniques including yoga, qigong, acupressure, prana, tai chi, and energy medicine.

Medication

A phobic may also be prescribed some medicines if the therapy has not been successful in treating them or if they also have other psychiatric problems that need to be addressed apart from Ablutophobia. Doctors may recommend anti-anxiety medicines like benzodiazepines. They may also suggest that the phobic take antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Self-help

Self-help strategies may also be beneficial to the phobic and may help them recover more easily. They may try refraining from consuming caffeine, exercising, and meditation.

Children who suffer from Ablutophobia need to seek treatment right away. If the child’s Ablutophobia is left untreated, they will keep suffering from it even as they become adults and could lead to severe complications.

 

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