Philemaphobia (Fear of Kissing)
Philemaphobia is the irrational fear of kissing. Someone with this condition may find kissing to be a disgusting and grotesque display of affection. The mere thought of kissing may evoke feelings of anxiety and dread in someone with philemaphobia.
For some people with this condition it may only be the thought of kissing intimately that evokes fear within them. However, for others, it may also include kissing members of their family as a display of love, though the specifics of this condition will often vary significantly from person to person.
Someone suffering from philemaphobia may find it very difficult to form close, romantic relationships with others due to their intense fear of kissing them. Due to their fear, they may appear to be standoffish or uninterested and may even be labeled as being “cold-hearted”.
Such judgments made by others may only exacerbate their symptoms of philemaphobia. Someone hearing that their significant other doesn’t want to kiss them is more likely to interpret that as them not being interested as opposed to it being the result of a mental illness.
Due to their irrational fear of kissing, they may also experience feelings of deep loneliness due to their lack of affection with their significant other, though this will vary from person to person.
However, it may not be uncommon for someone who suffers from philemaphobia to also develop major depressive disorder as a result of feelings of lonesomeness. Though this may be the case for some people, others may simply find it anxiety provoking to kiss someone else and may feel nothing more.
Symptoms of Philemaphobia
There are many different symptoms of philemaphobia that stretch much further than merely being afraid of kissing someone. However, the most common symptoms of philemaphobia are feelings of intense anxiety and dread when kissing someone or even at the mere thought of kissing someone.
Though intimate, deep kissing with a significant other may bring forth intense fear and even panic with someone suffering from philemaphobia, they may even find kissing their significant other on their cheek to be just as unappealing.
Depending on the person, as well as whether or not they are suffering from any other mental illnesses such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), they may need to be hospitalized if they happen to experience a severe enough panic attack resulting from their philemaphobia. However, such severe symptoms will vary from person to person.
Kissing is a very common and natural form of showing affection. Someone with philemaphobia may find it very difficult to form close, intimate relationships with others given their irrational fear of kissing. Thus, they may make conscious efforts to isolate themselves from others or not get “too close” with someone they are sexually attracted to. Such a lack of affection may greatly impact their overall happiness.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of philemaphobia:
Intense anxiety and panic when kissing someone
Anxiety when thinking of kissing someone
Not getting emotionally close with people
Isolating oneself from intimate relationships
May be overly concerned with germs
Causes of Philemaphobia
There is no known cause of philemaphobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play a significant role in the development of this condition. If mental illness runs in someone’s family, then they may be at risk for developing mental illness themselves. This is especially true for those whos family has a history of anxiety disorders or phobias.
If this were to be the case and you had the genetic predisposition to develop mental illness, then it may only require that you endure some sort of traumatic experience for you to develop full-blown philemaphobia.
Such a traumatic experience may be that they were kissed without their consent or in a much more extreme case, they may have been raped by someone. Other reasons as to why someone may develop philemaphobia is that they also suffer from mysophobia (fear of germs). The average human mouth has been known to contain roughly 6 billion bacteria, though this number may reach over 30 billion bacteria for less clean mouths. It is facts such as these that may be the cause of why they are unable to kiss someone.
Other reasons as to why someone may develop philemaphobia is that they were already suffering from an anxiety disorder such as GAD or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). If this was the case, then they may have merely honed in their anxiety toward a more specific area overtime, such as with kissing.
This makes sense when we look at someone who suffers from OCD. Besides having uncontrolled, repetitive thoughts, they may also begin to obsess about germs, which is quite common among those suffering with OCD. So, their obsession with germs may merely extend to also include a fear of getting germs from someone else by kissing them.
Philemaphobia Treatments (abridged)
There are no known treatment methods specifically designed for philemaphobia. However, sex therapy, exposure therapy, and anti-anxiety medication may be able to help reduce the symptoms associated with this condition.
Sex therapy may be able to help reduce the symptoms associated with philemaphobia by helping the patient to better understand why it is that they fear what they fear. They may also learn several coping skills to help them when their symptoms exacerbate, as well as broadening their prospective with regards to human sexuality.
Exposure therapy is another very pertinent form of treatment that can significantly decrease the intensity of anxiety experienced by the patient over time. In the context of philemaphobia, the patient may greatly benefit from being treated by a sex surrogate partner. This can be thought of as being the “physical aspect” of sex therapy. Though each sex surrogate will differ, you may be able to find one who is willing to help treat your philemaphobia.
If you think you have philemaphobia, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can get properly diagnosed and treated. Also, remember to talk to your doctor before you decide to take any medication or undergo any sort of therapy to ensure its safety and effectiveness.
Exercise for Philemaphobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including philemaphobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.
According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of philemaphobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.
There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of philemaphobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with philemaphobia over time.
Practicing Yoga for Philemaphobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from philemaphobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with philemaphobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.
There are many different types of yoga that someone with philemaphobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with philemaphobia.
If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of philemaphobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Reducing Caffeine for Philemaphobia
It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with philemaphobia to experience panic attacks.
So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.
Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with philemaphobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Philemaphobia
DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like philemaphobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.
One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with philemaphobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.
Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with philemaphobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.
Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with philemaphobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your philemaphobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Psychiatric Medications for Philemaphobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe philemaphobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.
These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their philemaphobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.
These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as philemaphobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of philemaphobia.
These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of philemaphobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Philemaphobia
CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with philemaphobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.
CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with philemaphobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with philemaphobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.
Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with philemaphobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Philemaphobia
MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from philemaphobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with philemaphobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.
Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of philemaphobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Practicing Meditation for Philemaphobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from philemaphobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimeous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.
Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from philemaphobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.
For someone with philemaphobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.
To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of philemaphobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.
Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with philemaphobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Philemaphobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as philemaphobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with philemaphobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.
The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with philemaphobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their philemaphobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with philemaphobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.