One of the most uncommon fears that anybody can have is the “fear of being touched.” This type of abnormal fear is called haphephobia. The individual has an undefinable fear of being touched by someone. A person with haphephobia can at any point, get a panic attack because of their fear of being touched by someone else.
What Causes Haphephobia?
Haphephobia can be widely caused by numerous factors:
Haphephobia can be caused by some distressful or traumatic experiences in life. Events like sexual assault, physical abuse, or any other stressful event can cause an individual to fear of being touched. They may correlate a touch as a most unpleasant or painful experience causing them to be haphephobic.
Heredity Causes the Fear of Being Touched
Fear is additionally linked to hereditary factors. Many individuals have a past family history of fears and uneasiness, so such traits are already within them, making it difficult to have any contact with another person. The mere thought of having someone touch them may immediately cause fear and anxiety.
Any little distressful occasion related with touch may trigger the fear right away. These individuals are more vulnerable to obtain haphephobia when they have a past family history of fears and uneasiness.
Poor Self- Esteem:
Sometimes an individual may feel that they are not worthy of being touched or that they do not deserve to be touched by others. This can be the result of not having any loving physical contact growing up, or it was a negative contact. They may also be afraid that they will be punished or reprimanded if touched by someone. It is sad to see that the mere thought of being embraced can cause emotional pain.
Yet everyone is worthy and deserving of love and love can and should be expressed by touch, a hug or an embrace.
Thoughts of being Dirty or Infected
Behind this fear of being touched lies many thoughts such as the other person may be dirty and shouldn’t be touched. Also, touching can spread germs and cause infection. Such thoughts are unrealistic and are based on fear.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder OCD
In general, OCD is an anxiety disorder which uses repetitive thoughts and behaviors. Some doctors suggest that not wanting to be touched is considered obsessive, and is defined as a repetitive thinking that is caused by fear and anxiety. Repetitive thoughts, for example, is the thinking that being touched can spread infection through germs. The compulsion is a repetitive activity such as, not wanting to be touched in any way, because of the fear of germs or infection.
OCD individuals are aware that their thoughts are not realistic, but it hard for them to control. Most people have the need and desire to be touched but it is the OCD that prevents individuals from having social interactions.
The Symptoms of Haphephobia
The following are symptoms that a person with haphephobia may experience.
- Strong and unreasonable fear that someone will touch them.
- Completely avoids being in a crowd of people to avoid being touched.
- Develops a panic disorder causing them to feel physical symptoms, such as stomach aches, nausea, headaches, nervousness, heart palpitations, shakes, dry mouth, dizziness, and shivers.
- Consistent thoughts and behaviors that cause the fear of being touched.
- Becoming disengaged and isolated.
- The sense of doom and despair.
When to Seek Help for the Fear of Being Touched?
The fear of being touched can become a serious issue. The individual having haphephobia may want to isolate themselves to such an extent that they do not want to have any interactions with others. This can be very debilitating and prevent an individual from living a fulfilling life. Such a condition needs assistance from a psychologist or psychiatrist that can provide counseling, and can enable a person to interact with others and live a more productive life.
How to Conquer Haphephobia with Psychotherapies
A mix of psychotherapies can bring the fear under control.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
The fear of being touched may have been the result of the traumatic ordeal. When you meet with a therapist he or she will conduct counseling sessions that will help replace those negative experiences with positive ones. During CBT you are taught methods to stop engaging in these thoughts and activities. The individual will also have the opportunity to express his or her particular fears, which will help the individual relieve this fear.
Exposure Therapy With Relaxation
In order to help a person break the fear of being touched, the psychologist will recommend exposure therapy which is a mental or psychological treatment that exposes the person to what they fear and wants to avoid. When a person is exposed to their fears in a safe environment this will help reduce the fear and their avoidance.
The psychologist will also recommend relaxation techniques that will help the person to unwind and become calmer.
Medication and Natural Remedies
It is always best to seek natural anxiety remedies, but there are many circumstances where medication is necessary. If it is, then using both natural remedies for anxiety and medication will be beneficial. Just keep in mind that some medications may have side effects and are addictive.
In addition, if your doctor prescribes medication it is important to become informed by asking about the side effects. It may also be wise to do your own research. Knowledge is power and when you have the knowledge, you will able to make wise decisions concerning your health. So become empowered!