Rectophobia is the fear of rectums. Someone suffering from this phobia may experience great deals of anxiety at the mere thought of a rectum or areas surrounding it. This is a very rare type of phobia and is unlike the more common one’s such as mysophobia (fear of germs), kakorrhaphiophobia (fear of failure), and achluphobia (fear of darkness).
Someone experiencing rectophobia may find this area of the human body to be completely repulsive and grotesque. They may also find the buttocks itself to be unsettling. Though they will not be subjected to seeing rectums much, if ever, the mere thought of them can evoke high amounts of anxiety and stress.
If someone with rectophobia is left untreated or unattended to during the midst of a panic attack as a result of their irrational fears, then they may experience extremely heightened bouts of anxiety and dread.
Though they may realize that their anxiety and intense fear is unjustified and irrational, when experiencing the intense symptoms of rectophobia, their anxiety will often overpower their ability to think logically about their fears.
Symptoms of Rectophobia
The symptoms of rectophobia are quite minuscule in comparison to other phobias like the fear of machines or the fear of imperfection as these disorders have many, often life changing symptoms associated with the illness. Someone with rectophobia will not have to be overly concerned with avoiding their fear, which is one of the main desires of those suffering from phobias, because this is an area located inside of the human body and cannot be easily seen. So, anatomy pictures of a rectum or medical careers that involve prostate exams will probably be avoided.
People suffering from rectophobia will often experience intense anxiety and dread when they are triggered by their fear of rectums. Whether they experience extreme dread or are merely uncomfortable when looking at an anatomy picture of a rectum in exposure therapy, will depend on many different factors and will vary from person to person.
Someone who suffers from rectophobia may also be irrationally concerned about getting rectal disease or rectal cancer. They may also overreact when and if they experience any sort of rectal pain or discomfort. Regardless of what the true causes of such pain may be, they may try to rationalize to themselves that something very serious and harmful is occurring. Such convictions are nearly always based in irrational worry from their rectophobia and are often not based on justifiable evidence.
Below, you will see some of the most common symptoms of rectophobia:
Intense anxiety at the sight of a rectum (e.g. a picture)
Anxiety when thinking of a rectum
Avoiding careers that involve diagnosing or treating the rectum
Muscle tension or shakiness
Irrationally concerned about rectal pain/disease
Causes of Rectophobia
There is no known cause of rectophobia. Nevertheless, as is the case with virtually every other type of phobia and anxiety disorder, genetics and one’s environment are likely to play significant roles in someone developing rectophobia. For instance, someone may have a predisposition to develop this mental disorder if they have a family history of phobias. So, genetics is definitely a significant factor for someone potentially developing rectophobia.
Another potential cause of this phobia is one’s environment. Growing up in a stressful environment where mental anguish was commonplace may be a contributing factor for someone developing any mental disorder. Pinpointing the exact causes of any mental illness is virtually impossible, but there is often a consensus that genetics and one’s environment are both potentially strong factors.
Other factors that may cause someone to develop rectophobia is that they may also suffer from other mental illnesses such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or even personality disorders. This not only sheds light to there being a genetic predisposition for developing mental illness, but it also may shed light to certain connections related to some of the symptoms someone may experience from their rectophobia. For instance, they may become obsessed (from their OCD) with their fear of rectums (rectophobia). Thus, exacerbating their already unsettling symptoms.
Rectophobia Treatments (abridged)
There is no known treatment method for this phobia. However, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and anti-anxiety medication may be able to help minimize the symptoms that are associated with this mental illness. CBT would work by having you and your therapist work through ways to help you cope with your rectophobia. You may also learn ways to think differently about your fears.
The exact type of treatment that would best suit you and your needs may also be dictated by the prevalence of any other mental disorders that you may have such as social anxiety disorder (SAD) or borderline personality disorder (BPD). So, this may mean that what is best for you and your symptoms may not be what’s best for someone else experiencing rectophobia or any other mental illness. To ensure that you and your doctor are aware of any and all symptoms and disorders you may be experiencing, it may be best for you to get a psychiatric evaluation to ensure that you are properly diagnosed.
Anti-anxiety medications may be able to help with minimizing the symptoms of rectophobia also. However, you should first talk to your doctor before you decide to take any particular medication or any treatment method for that matter. Phobias can be a very debilitating disorder to have and to live with. However, most of them are very treatable, such as the case with many other anxiety disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder.
If you think you may have rectophobia then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can get treated. After seeing your doctor, she may recommend that you see a specialist such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist for further treatment. Upon doing so, it may be in your best interest to have written down several questions and/or concerns that you may have concerning your rectophobia. It may be very embarrassing for you to open up and ask questions that make you uncomfortable, but doing so can greatly benefit you in the long term.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Rectophobia
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 rectophobia 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 rectophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with rectophobia 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 rectophobia 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 Rectophobia
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 rectophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with rectophobia 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 rectophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Rectophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from rectophobia. 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 rectophobia 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 rectophobia 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 rectophobia, 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 rectophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Rectophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as rectophobia. 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 rectophobia 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 rectophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their rectophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with rectophobia 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.
Exercise for Rectophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including rectophobia. 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 rectophobia 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 rectophobia, 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 rectophobia over time.
Yoga for Rectophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from rectophobia. 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 rectophobia 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 rectophobia 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 rectophobia.
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 rectophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Reducing Caffeine for Rectophobia
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 rectophobia 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 rectophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Rectophobia
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 rectophobia 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 rectophobia 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 rectophobia 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 rectophobia. 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 rectophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Psychiatric Medications for Rectophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe rectophobia 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 rectophobia 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 rectophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of rectophobia.
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 rectophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.