Koumpounophobia – The Fear of Buttons

The Rare “Fear of Buttons” Condition

Do you break into a cold sweat at the sight of a harmless button?

Do you feel queasy or disgusted at the thought of dealing with buttons?

Do you limit yourself to clothes that have zippers or velcro, do you turn away from buttons and avoid looking at the simple fastening device?

If your answer is yes to any of these questions, you may be suffering from Koumpounophobia – a phobia of buttons-a pure disgust for buttons.

Living with a phobia as rare as this can be extremely hard. On top of this, dealing with the potential stream of curious questions from your friends and family may add to your difficulties.

You have no way of explaining your uncanny aversion towards what seems to be an innocent part of someone’s attire or how a button can cause such a repugnant response.

Some people fear swallowing buttons, some people cannot stand the sound of buttons hitting against other objects and some are worried about the potential germs buttons may carry.

But it doesn’t have to be this way forever. You can tackle this very real phobia of yours in many ways. However, you need to first get to the root cause so that you’re equipped to deal with it in the right way. Why are you repulsed by buttons?

What is Koumpounophobia?

Koumpounophobia is the phobia of buttons and button-related objects. Like any other phobia, the exact signs may differ from person to person. Some people are repulsed at the thought of wearing or touching buttons.

Picture this. After meticulously spending hours convincing yourself, you’ve decided to visit a local boutique. As you’re about to pat yourself on your back, a row of buttons on the cashier’s shirt is enough to freeze you. Though she’s smiling at you, your racing heart refuses to slow down.

What could have possibly caused this reaction?

Causes of Koumpounophobia

What causes such levels of fear and anxiety? Is it in a person’s DNA? Was it the aftermath of a childhood accident?

Of course most do not remember or understand when or how their phobia started.

You may not fully decipher the reasons for this strange phobia, but you can get a basic understanding of it to help fight against its triggers.

Here are a few things that might have caused your fear of buttons.

1. Genetics – If someone in your family tree had a fear of buttons, you will likely have this condition as well. Keep in mind that not everyone with a genetic history of koumpounophobia will develop it. Researchers have not yet discovered the exact gene responsible and how it is passed on.

2. Traumatic Events – As with most phobias, a negative experience in your childhood might have been the start of this unwanted problem. Most likely, you don’t even remember the exact event. But it still has lingering effects in your mind.

For example, a man has a vague memory of a bucket full of buttons falling on his head when he was five years old. Decades later, he still hates the mere sight of buttons. Others may have watched a sibling accidentally swallow and choke on a button. Another phobic recalls being bullied in school due to his inability to do them up on his clothes, which eventually led him to have this phobia.

A button phobia study reveals that facing violence or abuse from a person wearing buttons may also trigger horrific memories of the past event.

As you can see, a combination of inherited and external factors can cause a person to develop certain phobias.

Symptoms of Koumpounophobia

The symptoms of Koumpounophobia are subjective. Some fear all types of buttons while other people may avoid buttons made of plastic or metal. In most cases, a Koumpounophobic person can’t stand the sound, sight, or texture of buttons.

If they do get triggered, they will show the following physical and psychological symptoms:

Physical Symptoms

● Nausea
● Rapid heartbeat
● Dizziness
● Excessive sweating
● Panic attack
● Anger at the mention of buttons
● Crying or screaming at the sight of buttons
● Goosebumps
● Repeated washing of hands upon touching buttons

Psychological Symptoms

● Refusing to attend events for fear of encountering guests wearing clothes with buttons
● Fear of circular objects like pearls or balls
● Preferring a square-shaped alternative to every round object
● A dread of shopping
● Nightmares
● Thoughts of death and physical harm upon encountering buttons
● Refusal to say or write down the word “button”

Self-Help for Koumpounophobia

Are you desperate to get over this fear? Before you seek medical treatment, consider a few self-help techniques that you can use.
Self-help for Koumpounophobia involves training your mind to accept and adapt to your fear.

1. Accepting your fear is the first step towards battling it. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Your mind tends to believe what it continuously hears, so start by reassuring yourself that it’s okay to encounter buttons.
2. Whenever you come across a button, try relaxation techniques like breathing exercises to calm your nerves and steady that racing heartbeat.
3. You can also try joining self-help groups with people who are going through the same situation. Share your coping mechanisms and offer support.

While self-help treatment can be an effective way of dealing with Koumpounophobia, in an extreme case you’ll need to go to a professional therapist.

Getting Professional Help

If you wish to overcome this phobia quickly and completely, you may need to combine professional intervention and self-help methods. You would only need medication in severe cases.

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy can help you to rationalize your fearful thoughts and change them to positive ones, enabling you to face those buttons confidently.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

This is another method of changing your negative responses into positive ones. It can help you realize why your fear is unrealistic and think rationally every time you experience it.

Virtual Reality Exposure

This method works by helping you get desensitized to your objects of fear by exposing you to buttons in a safe and controlled environment.

Hypnotherapy can be another effective therapy to get to the root of Koumpounophobia. This method allows you to tackle the underlying trigger in your subconscious.

How to Avoid The Disgust of Buttons Altogether

Though some phobias can’t be cured, you can set yourself up to manage the symptoms better. Professional treatment may be the best way to move past this obstacle, but there are other ways to avoid or overcome Koumpounophobia.

Let us take a look at a few of them:

● Accepting your fear is the first step towards living a phobia-free life. After this first step, you can actively work towards improving your situation.

● You can also try visualization, which is a mixture of breathing and relaxation techniques. Form a mental image of yourself successfully encountering the sight or sound of a button. With time, you will be able to cope better in real life.

● Talk to your friends and family about your phobia and how it affects your life. They may be able to provide help and support. Perhaps the next time you face a friend wearing a coat with those dreaded buttons, you’ll be able to smile back.

● While it’s always recommended to face your fear, to cope better with anxiety, you can start by avoiding the situations where your phobia might be triggered. For example, avoiding the clothing department in shopping malls or only buying clothes with zippers and velcro fastenings.

In Conclusion
Although the situation might seem hopeless at times, remember that there’s a solution for everything. The important thing is to recognize the fact that the fear lies in your mind. With focus, dedication, and efforts, you’ll gradually be able to overcome your fear of buttons.


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