Excessive Fear of Being Touched Without Consent
Do you shiver at the thought of being touched?
Are you completely averse to the feel of someone else’s skin on yours?
Many people are uncomfortable being touched without consent or by strangers.
But in your case, being touched by other people, even by family or friends, elicits intense feelings of fear or even pain. And the fear persists for a long time, and it is so great it destabilizes your personal relationships.
If this is the case, then it may be haphephobia, an anxiety disorder characterized by an extreme, irrational fear of being touched.
What is Haphephobia?
Haphephobia definition is a person experiencing a panic attack the moment he or she is touched. In most cases, the fear is to be touched by the opposite gender or a specific individual. But in some extreme cases, a sufferer of this phobia cannot stand to be touched by anyone.
For many sufferers of this disorder, the intensity of their phobia is linked to the condition’s cause. A few potential haphephobia causes include sexual abuse, a past experience of having been harmed, and a morbid fear of germs. In other cases, they might have inherited the trait from parents and guardians who also expressed an aversion to being touched.
Why am I afraid of being touched?
The fear of being touched is also linked to two other mental disorders: obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The former is an irrational desire to be in control of every personal situation. The thought of not knowing where other people’s hands may have been before the touching is a major concern. The latter comes as a result of the sufferers’ memory of a traumatic event, such as an assault or rape to themselves or someone else.
To avoid dealing with their very severe reactions, haphephobia sufferers avoid being touched altogether. They keep their distance and isolate themselves constantly, thereby putting a strain on their social relationships, careers, and quality of life.
Common Haphephobia Symptoms
Haphephobia is a devastating condition that leaves behind severe symptoms and toxic coping mechanisms. Fully convinced that a simple touch can harm them, people with this phobia go through extreme knee-jerking reactions whenever their condition is triggered.
These reactions may include:
● Panic attacks
● Anxiety disorder
● Going hysterical
● Hot flashes
● Cold flashes
● Shortage of breath
Self-Help for Haphephobia
While taking control of the situation is difficult, some self-help activities may help foster positive coping.
Practicing the art of taking long, deep breaths can help slow down the toxic effects and symptoms of your condition. Taking time out to breathe before or during a triggering moment is a proven way of diverting excessive reactions.
This is also a proven way of curbing stress and anxiety-related symptoms. Doctors recommend aerobic exercises to see effective results in a phobia sufferer’s overall mental health.
Meditation and Relaxation
Meditation and relaxation are also highly recommended for dealing with stress, depression, anxiety, and other such phobia symptoms. Learning to focus one’s thoughts on the positives rather than the triggers is one of the best ways for an individual with the phobia to cope through the healing journey and manage the symptoms.
Positive visualization and practicing mindfulness while meditating can help keep track of thought processes and retain control of emotional reactions.
Caffeine is a known stimulant. A high caffeine intake can induce symptoms that mimic anxiety, such as nervousness, restlessness, and a fast heart rate. Phobia and other anxiety-prone patients are therefore advised against too much caffeine.
How to Cure Haphephobia
Deciding to seek medical treatment is a significant step forward toward recovery. Today, a range of treatments are available to help people with Haphephobia. Here’s how to cure haphephobia.
Talking out their problems and trauma with a qualified therapist or counselor is a great therapy procedure for phobic sufferers. This approach offers them the opportunity to speak out their feelings and fears, and not just bottle them all up inside or avoid confronting them.
The counselor also gets to offer feedback and advise the patient on what to do next in the course of the treatment. Discussing their phobia also helps patients to keep things in perspective and provides clarity on the situation.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The most popular among available haphephobia treatments, cognitive behavioral therapy, helps provide patients with the tools they need to redirect their thoughts. It also repatterns their behavior to healthier, more rational responses.
Slowly exposing the sufferers to their phobia triggers — in this case, touch — is what this type of treatment is all about. The process may include exercises where the medical provider encourages the patient to imagine circumstances in which human touch is involved. The therapist strives to create a safe environment where patients can slowly allow themselves to become more comfortable with their fears. Exposing patients to repeated positive experiences may slowly help change their negative emotions toward touch.
This is also a viable treatment option for phobic sufferers. This approach allows for encouraging vulnerability within a group with similar issues and seeing how other people are coping with their symptoms.
The goal is to encourage patients to keep pushing forward by letting them know they are not alone and that other people can relate to their situation.
This approach involves placing the patient in a subconscious state of mind and pushing them to confront their innermost fears and thoughts until they can resolve the conflict. This type of treatment could take some time. Also, be aware that this approach does not work on everyone and, as such, is considered an alternative therapy. Nonetheless, hypnosis has been proven helpful in various medical conditions.
Doctors also may also recommend or provide prescription medicine for phobia, especially in severe or debilitating cases. The medication aims to help the patient deal with the symptoms and alleviate the pain. As such, the medication is only for the short term, or until the effects of therapy start to show.
Preparing for the Treatment
If you’re suffering from phobia and thinking of getting help from a medical professional for the first time, expect a lot of questions from your medical provider. Be as detailed as possible when giving information about your condition. Doing so is vital so that your medical provider can identify the most appropriate course of action for you.
Some of the common questions therapists ask include:
● What prompted you to seek therapy now?
● When did you first notice your symptoms?
● When are your symptoms likely to occur? What thoughts go through your mind before your symptoms happen?
● Do you notice things that make your symptoms seem better or worse?
● How are your symptoms affecting you and the people around you?
● What coping strategies have you tried so far?
● Are you undergoing treatment for any medical conditions?
People with hapnophobia or the fear of being touched can lead productive, fulfilling, and happy lives. If you’re suffering from haphephobia, know that you’re not alone, and help is available.