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    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 this simple fastening device?

    If your answer is YES to any of these questions, you may be suffering from koumpounophobia—a phobia of buttons, or pure disgust for buttons.

    Living with a phobia as rare as this can be 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 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, while others can’t stand the sound of buttons hitting against other objects.  Some may even worry about the potential germs buttons may carry.

    But you don’t have to fear buttons 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. Read on to learn why you’re 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 spending hours convincing yourself, you’ve decided to visit a local boutique. You’ve made it through the shop and are about to check out when a row of buttons on the cashier’s blouse causes you to freeze up. She’s smiling at you, but you wonder if she can hear your racing heart.

    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 may have caused your fear of buttons:

    1. Genetics – If someone in your family tree had a fear of buttons or other such phobia, you are at a higher risk of having this condition as well. Keep in mind that not everyone with a genetic history of phobia will develop one. 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 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 button up his clothes, which eventually led him to have this phobia.
    3. A button phobia study revealed 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 may 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 may show the following physical and mental/emotional symptoms:

    Physical Symptoms

    • Nausea
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Disgust
    • 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

    Mental/Emotional 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 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 such as 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, some may need to seek professional help.

    Getting Professional Help

    If self-help methods aren’t enough to get you over your fear of buttons, you’ll need to seek professional intervention.

    Talk Therapy

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

    Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

    CBT 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 your 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 better manage the symptoms. Professional treatment may be the best way to move past this obstacle, but there are other ways to avoid or overcome koumpounophobia.

    Let’s 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.


    Although the situation might seem hopeless at times, remember 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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