The excessive fear of germs is a common anxiety disorder in America. The medical term for this phobia is mysophobia. Mysophobia may be related to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and hypochondria.
Mysophobia is the unnecessary fear of germs. One of the basic symptom of those who are mysophobic is the constant washing of hands anytime they felt they have come in contact with germs, this might tend to affect there day to day activity. They might also become scare of shaking hands with other people, using a public bus or toilet, avoid touching doorknobs directly for fear of contain germs from them, or use an excessive amount of soap or hand sanitizer..
Mysophobia, also known as verminophobia, germophobia, germaphobia, bacillophobia and bacteriophobia, is a pathological fear of contamination and germs. The term was coined by Dr. William Alexander Hammond in 1879 when describing a case of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) exhibited in repeatedly washing one’s hands.
Washing of hands is an act of cleanliness and it’s a good idea, but when it becomes excessive, it can be regarded as a Phobia.
One basic thing everyone should understand, especially those who are mysophobic is that we have both harmless and harmless Germs. The Human Stomach house millions of bacterial which assist in the digestion of foods and even when our body comes in contact with harmful germs, our white blood cell as an Immune system with which those germs can be killed in a s much as our exposure to them is not too much.
Mysophobia can have severe social repercussions. Because the individual is terrified of contamination, she will avoid many social situations for fear of coming into contact with germs or dirt. Also, other individuals may not understand the mysophobe’s condition, and think of her as paranoid or hostile, leading to alienation and isolation.
Symptoms Of Mysophobia
There are several symptoms of mysophobia depending on the Extent of fear the mysophobic person as but generally, here are the basic things you will observe in someone who as mysophobia:
- Consistent washing of hands with Hand sanitizers
- Refusal to touch any/Shake any Human or Animals for fears of contacting harmful germs from them
- Avoidance of any social Gathering
- Avoidance of Social Utilities such as public Bathrooms, Public toilets etc
Causes of Mysophobia-Fear of Germs
Several Authors have proposed several causes for the fear of germs phobia, but the three most accepted view are:
- Heredity: It is believed that a larger percentage of those who have mysophobia inherit it from their Parent and runs in the family tree
- Mysophobia usually stems from an Obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD. The sufferer feels the need to wash his/her hands frequently, which is one of the characteristics of OCD. Naturally, in case of Mysophobia, the motivation to frequently wash stems from the fear of microbes unlike that in the OCD where it is more of a matter of following routine. That being said; most patients are known to suffer from both conditions. A thorough medical evaluation is hence necessary to determine if it is Mysophobia or OCD.
- Traumatic Experience; It is also believed that any one who once suffer a disease or some kind of ailment which can be attributed to Harmful Microbes is likely to suffer from Mysophobia
- Media: The Media (Net, Radio and T.v) adverts have also been linked to mysophobia in some people. Certain advertisement and programmes have been linked to the cause of mysophobia in Some Americans
Treatment/Cure for Mysophobia
The most effective and well known treatment for mysophobia and other types of phobia is the Cognitive behavioural therapy which includes but not limited to gradual exposure and desensitization therapies as well as relaxation training.
Cognitive behaviour therapies help the person with a fear of germs change his attitude and thoughts about them. This involves writing down negative and positive thoughts such as “I fear I will die from germs” to “Germs are sometimes healthy and useful to us” and so on. The patients are then asked to decide on beliefs that are healthier and useful to them.
In summary, mysophobia can be defined as the un necessary fear of germs and it is characterized in persons who washes his/her hand with soap or hand sanitizers un controllably. The major cure for mysophobia is Cognitive Behavioural therapy.