Haptophobia

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

The habitual life for a haptophobe is a nightmare. Traveling in transport, communicating with new people, working in a team and even personal relationships are unpleasant for them with possible touches that cause fear and panic.

What is haptophobia?
The term haptophobia is a group of phobic disorders, the basis of which is a pathological fear of touching people – who are not familiar to you and even close, relatives. This phobia can also be called by other terms – thixophobia, afephobia, haphophobia.

Such people constantly try to maintain distance from others. Any attempts to touch are perceived sharply – this is an invasion of the comfort zone with a violation of personal boundaries. Sometimes, under the guise of this phobia, other disorders can be present – the fear of contracting any diseases from contacts or the fear of intimacy.

Haptophobia is a collective term, it means the fear of touching any people. A tactile phobia is a fear of being touched by strangers. But often these words are considered synonyms.

Causes of haptophobia in adults
Such a phobia is quite complex and rare, and it can be caused by a variety of reasons:

  • neurological diseases, mental disorders (neuroses, depression, psychosis, asthenia, obsessions);
  • disorders in intellectual development (autism, mental retardation);
  • puberty, if a teenager is suspicious, squeamish, or shy, worries about body reactions (spontaneous erection in young men);
  • personality traits (introverts, people who do not like interference in their personal space);
  • pathological mania for cleanliness and disgust (upon contact, they immediately wash their hands, take a shower, clean the house);
  • lack of sexual desire (asexuality), in which people do not need and even unpleasant to touch;
  • racist, Nazi beliefs bordering on bigotry;
  • experienced violence or abuse (child or adult).

Symptoms of haptophobia in adults
Based on the form and severity of the phobic disorder, the patient may be afraid of touching both all people and their individual groups – the opposite sex, with different skin color, unfamiliar to him, with certain features of appearance.

Any touch provokes flinching, screaming, or violent reactions, with expressions of disgust, fear, or horror. The patients themselves describe their sensations from such touches as burning or chilling, from which the body literally trembles.

In addition, somatic reactions are possible, which only aggravate the condition:

  • palpitations, pressure surges;
  • trembling limbs or the whole body;
  • nausea, discomfort, abdominal cramps;
  • feeling short of breath, choking, uneven breathing;
  • dizziness.

Another very specific symptom of haptophobia is an obsessive desire to wash a touched area of ​​the body or wipe it with napkins, aggression due to strong fear and unpleasant sensations in the body, pushing people away, refusing any help if you need to touch a person. In severe cases, panic attacks or short-term fainting occurs.
With an advanced form of haptophobia, reactions arise even from wind, clothing pressure, and water ingress. The appearance of the haptophobe is typical enough – closed clothing to minimize touching. Such people avoid traveling in transport, standing in lines, and refusing contact with people.

From the outside, it may seem that a person is contemptuous or disgusting, rude or pathologically shy, not brought up. People may not take such a phobia seriously, considering it a personality trait.

Treatment of haptophobia in adults
Without treatment, these types of phobias can progress, lead to social isolation, so you need to see a specialist.

Diagnostics
With such problems, a detailed examination by a doctor is necessary, because, behind such a phobia, more serious mental disorders can also be hidden – paranoid, schizophrenia, psychosis, or agoraphobia. In addition, it is necessary to distinguish between personality traits and signs of a phobia.

If there are also somatic complaints, an additional examination is needed to exclude serious illnesses.

Modern methods of treatment
Usually, a psychotherapist helps people with a pathological fear of touch. He practices psychotherapy – individually, working out every possible cause of fear. The doctor talks with the patient about his fears, anxiety, trying to find the cause of the phobia. He appreciates the emotions that arise from touch. Sessions can use visualization to represent the most frightening moments. Then tolerance is formed – resistance to fear.

In addition, some medications may additionally be used in the treatment. They are usually recommended for those people whose pathology develops against the background of neurosis or psychosis. The drugs reduce anxiety, normalize sleep, and calm the nerves. Most often, sedatives, antipsychotics, or antidepressants are used.

If hormonal correction is needed, an endocrinologist may be involved in the patient’s management.

Prevention of haptophobia in adults at home
The basis for the prevention of haptophobia is the elimination of traumatic situations, the upbringing of children without physical violence, and the formation of a healthy environment in the family.

Are complications of this phobia possible, does it affect the ability to work, does it threaten disability, death?
Directly such a phobia does not pose a risk to life, although refusing to help if the patient is afraid of touching can, of course, seriously harm in critical situations.

Such a phobia also does not lead to disability, but problems at work, in personal relationships, and communication with friends are quite possible. All this dramatically reduces the patient’s quality of life.

Which doctor should I go to with haptophobia?
In mild forms of the disorder, a clinical psychologist can help, more serious phobias with pronounced fears and problems in life can be solved by psychotherapists. If the disorder is associated with possible mental pathologies, a psychiatrist is needed.

Is it possible to heal yourself or with the help of non-traditional methods?
You can cope with your phobia yourself in case of its mild course, but it is not worth practicing dubious methods, taking various dietary supplements or drugs without a doctor. This can harm, worsen the situation.

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