Excessive Fear of Skins and Furs
Do you avoid furry animals like the plague? Does the idea of having a fur coat or leather bag give you the creeps? Does touching animal fur or skin make you want to throw up? You can’t even think about animals without getting a panic attack or getting dizzy.
You’re all alone with your fear of fur and skins while the rest of your friends are happily hanging around their pets. All you can do is stay at home.
If that’s not the kind of life you want to live, then you need to find out the root of the problem to overcome it once and for all.
Everything You Need to Know About Doraphobia
What does Doraphobia mean? The word “dora” means “hide or skin” while the word “phobos” means fear. It translates to fear of skins and fur, but there are various ways in which this phobia manifests.
A person with Doraphobia may be triggered by the act of touching animals or their hides, skin, and fur. They either hate the texture or fear the consequences of touching animal skin.
This condition also varies in intensity. A Doraphobe may be simply disgusted by fur and skin, while some can’t stand even the thought of it.
The fear of fur may overlap with Zoophobia (the fear of animals), Chaetophobia (fear of hair), or a variety of animal-related phobias.
Causes of Doraphobia
Psychological disorders like phobias and anxiety are believed to be passed down through your genes. If your parents, grandparents, or other relatives suffer from any such issue, you are more likely to develop irrational fears at some point in life.
However, these do not occur without an environmental trigger. An underlying gene becomes active after a traumatic or stressful encounter. Such incidents include:
● A school trip to the zoo that went wrong
● An attack by a household or neighbor’s pet
● An incidence of infection or animal bite
● Learning that real fur comes from animals
● Watching an animal being skinned
● A severe allergic reaction to animals, their hair, fleas, or dander
All these can be traumatic, especially if they occur in childhood. The strong emotions from these events can create a lifelong loathing of animal fur or skin.
Other environmental causes could be:
● You learned in school about the diseases that animals carry in their fur.
● If a parent has a fear of animals, then the child could develop them too.
● If a loved one died due to animal-related causes, then the person could fear animals.
● If you had a heavy shedding dog at home that was dying.
● Hair loss to you means death and disease.
Doraphobia causes are not rational by any means. For accuracy, this condition should only be diagnosed by a professional.
Symptoms of Doraphobia
Doraphobia is one of the phobias that first manifest in a person’s thoughts and then in their behavior. This means the psychological symptoms are more likely present before you can see physical signs like panic attacks.
● Hot flushes
● Tightness in the chest
● Anxiety attacks
● Tremors or shaking
● Muscle tension
● Increased heart rate
● Dizziness or fainting
● Allergic reaction to animals
● Difficulty concentrating
● Mood swings
● Avoidance of animals
● Avoiding stuffed toys
● Feelings of dread
● Fear of dying
● Unease or a feeling that something bad might happen if they touch an animal
● Hatred of fur, fur coats, or animals hides and objects with similar textured
● Negative thoughts or nightmares about furry animals
How Do You Deal with Doraphobia?
What makes a phobia different is the excessive response people exhibit towards the trigger. The cause may also seem irrational or unreasonable. In contrast, fear is relatively rational and can be kept under control. Fear won’t stop people from living their lives normally, but a phobia will.
When it comes to Doraphobia, avoidance is not the solution. People love animals, so they are often featured in advertisements. Unless you stop watching TV, you will probably see a furry animal sooner rather than later.
Pets are also quite common. You can’t just stop seeing your friends or relatives simply because they have a dog or cat. Worse, you probably have the same intense reaction to fur coats, stuffed toys, or objects made of hide. It doesn’t matter if it’s real or fake.
That’s why it’s better to get help as soon as possible if you think you have Doraphobia.
Self Help – What Can You Do?
Meanwhile, you can learn these self-help methods to regain control over your life.
Communicating with someone you trust could help you get all the stress out of your mind. You can ask a friend to listen without judgment. They should know the talk in itself is the solution; all they need to do is listen.
Try to avoid caffeine. Coffee does way more than wake you up. It disrupts your body’s natural activity and causes stomach issues. Plus, being caffeinated feels like you are on fight mode at all times. Alcohol and other mood-altering substances should also be avoided.
If you’re finding it difficult to stay off caffeine, try exercise. While the two aren’t directly related, your body begins to learn natural ways to wake itself up. Burning off some calories keeps you awake, flushes out toxins, and helps you stay calm in the face of a stressor.
Self-help begins with small steps taken to overcome the fear, but every phobia is mental first and the physical later. So, treating what is in the mind is the correct route.
Don’t just focus on the symptoms. Learn to differentiate between the methods that hide your symptoms and those that actually treat them.
Getting Professional Help
Doraphobia treatment includes methods similar to treatment of other phobias. These exercises are based on what the root cause of the fear is.
● Cognitive Behavioral Therapy involves the therapist working with the patient to change negative cognitive pathways to positive and helpful ones.
● Dialectical Behavior Therapy teaches the patient techniques to regulate their fear responses. It may include mindfulness, half-smiling, and emotional regulation under the supervision of a therapist. DBT usually comes in when the person can rationalize thoughts but not behavior.
● Exposure Therapy or desensitization does what it says: it desensitizes or exposes the patient to the stressor. This can be done in a few ways. The patient is exposed to the stressor in a controlled way, either directly or indirectly. A direct encounter involves physical contact with furs or animal skin. An indirect encounter requires thinking about furs and skins. Both could help the person get acquainted with the stressor and realize it doesn’t hurt them in any way.
● Medications like beta-blockers, anti-anxiety meds, or antidepressants are generally prescribed to substitute the hormonal responses. These supportive measures are temporary. They are not meant to cure phobias and are usually given as a last resort.
Learning to Cope with Doraphobia
Self-help tips might be good, but a consultation with an expert is infinitely better. Unless you know what the problem is, how will you know what to fix? The longer the fear has had time to progress, the more time it’ll take to treat it.
The first step is to admit there is a problem. Ask a family member to reach out to a professional if asking for help by yourself is too intimidating. Therapy can make people vulnerable, so being accompanied by a relative or close friend can keep your spirits up.
Now that you have the knowledge and strategies, all you need is the motivation to face your fear. Eventually, you’ll be cuddling with your very own pet and enjoying the luxurious feel of fur on your skin.