Venustraphobia is the irrational fear of beautiful women. People who suffer from this illness find it extremely difficult to be around attractive women and may feel intense anxiety and dread when in the company of one. Beauty or attractiveness is a subjective, superficial characteristic that humans have glamorized throughout history.
Though looking at a pretty face will most likely not affect anyone, a small amount of people looking at a beautiful woman will feel some sort of arousal (i.e. sexually or non-sexually), and an even smaller amount of people will feel anxious when in the same situation.
Analyzing further, in the extreme minority of people who come across what is deemed a “beautiful woman”, there are those who experience anxiety that is so intensive and intrusive that they may literally feel sick to their stomach at the mere sight of a gorgeous woman. Such is the case with those suffering from venustraphobia.
It is normal for someone to feel a little nervous when on a date with a beautiful woman. In fact, if you weren’t anxious in such a situation then it may mean that you weren’t very interested in being there to begin with.
Someone experiencing full-blown venustraphobia may have very low self-esteem and may feel inadequate due to their inability to control the way their mind and body reacts to merely being around pretty women. They may become increasingly frustrated and self-critical as they are unable to control their increased heart rate, their increased rate of breathing, shakiness, sweating, as well as their racing mind.
Symptoms of Venustraphobia
Like with most phobias, someone with venustraphobia will feel very anxious when they are faced with their fear. They may also feel very ashamed about their inability to relax and control their emotions when around a beautiful woman. Such shame may even develop into self-hatred, narcissistic behavior, or even depression. More than likely, anyone who has venustraphobia will feel varying symptoms of varying intensities. Nevertheless, extreme fear and avoidance will most likely be very common symptoms of venustraphobia.
Someone experiencing an irrational fear of beautiful women may also suffer from coitophobia (fear of sexual intercourse) and/or kolpophobia (fear of female genitals). Experiencing such fears may only exacerbate the feelings of dread and inadequacy that may be experienced with venustraphobia.
Other mental disorders that could worsen the anxiety associated with venustraphobia are obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It would not be uncommon for someone who has been diagnosed with one anxiety disorder to also have a second one.
Someone with venustraphobia may also find it difficult to even want to seek out treatment or help of some sort as they may be extremely ashamed of their fear. Such embarrassment may make them desire to be seen in the opposite light. Thus, forcing them to pretend to not be afraid of women when around other people.
Below, you’ll see some more common symptoms of venustraphobia:
Intense anxiety when around a beautiful woman
Anxiety when thinking of beautiful women
Shameful, regretful, and self-critical
Avoiding places where attractive women may be
Isolation and loneliness
Poor self image
May make decisions based solely on emotion
Causes of Venustraphobia
There are no known causes for venustraphobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play crucial roles in the development of this disorder. Someone who has a family history of mental illness, especially with anxiety disorders or phobias, may be at risk for developing venustraphobia. Having such a predisposition for developing mental illness may then only require some sort of traumatizing event or environmental factor for them to fully develop this phobia.
Such a traumatizing event may be that they got their heart broken by a beautiful woman once before or perhaps a very attractive woman publicly humiliated them in some way. Essentially, any sort of event that had them feeling extremely hurt or emotionally impacted in a way that left them feeling traumatized may be enough for someone to develop venustraphobia.
In addition to this, in some societies gorgeous women have garnered the reputation as being “stuck-up”, “money hungry”, “cold hearted”, “spoiled”, or “easy”. So, it should be noted that the societal impact of such stereotypes may hold some weight of validity in the mind of someone who is highly anxious. It may even be a contributing factor for someone developing venustraphobia as their perception of beautiful women may be altered because of it.
Other reasons as to why someone may develop venustraphobia is that they may already suffer from an anxiety disorder such as GAD or OCD. Their fear of beautiful women may simply be an extension of one of their other anxiety disorders.
For example, someone with OCD may begin to obsess about their own insecurities along with all of the irrational reasons that they should be nervous around pretty women. Such obsessions may develop into full blown venustraphobia. Their obsession could be about embarrassing themselves around attractive women and being judged, while the associated compulsion would be to avoid beautiful women altogether.
Venustraphobia Treatments (abridged)
There are no known treatments specifically designed for venustraphobia. However, talk therapy, exposure therapy, and anti-anxiety medication may be able to help reduce the symptoms associated with this mental disorder. Talk therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be very beneficial at treating venustraphobia as it can help you to improve the way you perceive your fears, as well as teaching you how to better cope with the anxiety symptoms associated with this disorder.
Exposure therapy is a very common form of treatment for those suffering from nearly every kind of phobia, including venustraphobia. In this context, exposure therapy can help to desensitize the patient from their irrational fear of beautiful women.
Just as the name implies, to overcome their fear they would need to be repetitively exposed to that fear to the point to where it no longer bothered them. The exposure therapist may ask the patient to go to areas where beautiful women may be (e.g. the park, a restaurant, a bar, etc.), so that they can work on desensitizing themselves from their venustraphobia.
Anti-anxiety medication may also be able to help reduce the intensity of anxiety associated with venustraphobia. However, you should first talk to your doctor before you decide to take any medication or partake in any sort of therapy.
Exercise for Venustraphobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including venustraphobia. 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 venustraphobia 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 venustraphobia, 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 venustraphobia over time.
Practicing Yoga for Venustraphobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from venustraphobia. 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 venustraphobia 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 venustraphobia 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 venustraphobia.
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 venustraphobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Reducing Caffeine for Venustraphobia
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 venustraphobia 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 venustraphobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Venustraphobia
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 venustraphobia 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 venustraphobia 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 venustraphobia 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 venustraphobia. 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 venustraphobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Psychiatric Medications for Venustraphobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe venustraphobia 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 venustraphobia 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 venustraphobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of venustraphobia.
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 venustraphobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Venustraphobia
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 venustraphobia 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 venustraphobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with venustraphobia 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 venustraphobia 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 Venustraphobia
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 venustraphobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with venustraphobia 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 venustraphobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Practicing Meditation for Venustraphobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from venustraphobia. 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 venustraphobia 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 venustraphobia 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 venustraphobia, 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 venustraphobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Venustraphobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as venustraphobia. 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 venustraphobia 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 venustraphobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their venustraphobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with venustraphobia 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.
Venustraphobia and social anxiety
It may not be uncommon for some people suffering from venustraphobia to also suffer from some sort of social anxiety too. This is to say that their fear of beautiful women may extend to social situations in general. Although this is definitely not the case for everyone suffering from venustraphobia as such an example may be but a mere aberration, it is still possible for it to occur nonetheless.
Furthermore, someone suffering from social anxiety disorder (SAD) may also develop venustraphobia insofar as they have the genetics to do so as well as having experienced some sort of traumatic event which in some way had something to do with beautiful women. In fact, people suffering with SAD may be mistaken for having venustraphobia. However, this is likely to be due to a confusion of how these two conditions differ.
Although someone with SAD may in fact be extremely anxious when they are around gorgeous women, they are likely to feel the same amount of anxiety when they are around someone else who they don’t deem to be a beautiful woman. So, even though their anxiety may be more intense when they are around beautiful women as opposed to seeing the mailman walk across the street for example, they can be expected to be irrationally fearful of any sort of social setting, regardless of who is there.
This can be better articulated with the following example: A man with venustraphobia at a party see’s a beautiful woman and then immediately experiences symptoms of a panic attack (i.e. racing heart beat, excessively sweating, shakiness, etc), while the person with SAD would likely never attend such a party in the first place due to their fear of social settings.
Although there are distinct differences between venustraphobia and SAD, there are also some similarities too, such as the way in which both of these conditions are typically treated. As previously touched upon, venustraphobia may be effectively treated by using exposure therapy. The same can be said for those suffering from SAD as well. So, just as someone with venustraphobia would be prompted by their therapist to try and expose themselves to attractive women, so would the same therapist treating a patient with SAD try and have the patient expose themselves to social situations, regardless of how arbitrary or trivial they may be.
In addition to exposure therapy benefiting both venustraphobia and SAD, anti-anxiety medications may also be very advantageous as well as they can help to reduce one’s chances of experiencing panic-like symptoms. Be that as it may, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor to ensure that such medications will be the best option for you.
So, if you suffer from venustraphobia and have not yet seeked out any sort of treatment, then it is in your best interest to do so to ensure that you not only reduce your symptoms of venustraphobia, but to also help reduce your risk for developing full blown SAD along with it. The same can be said for someone suffering from SAD and not venustraphobia, although the inverse of this is likely to be much more common.
Common behaviors among people with venustraphobia
It may be very common for someone who is suffering from venustraphobia to go to painstaking efforts to avoid their fear of beautiful women. Although doing so will likely give them some immediate relief from the intense emotional pain that they would have otherwise experienced. This may mean them refusing to go to areas where attractive women may be. Such a restriction will likely make their day to day life quite challenging as they will be very limited to where they will be able to go.
If someone with venustraphobia were to use avoidance on a consistent basis to the point to where they nearly always used it when in the midst of a beautiful woman or as a means to prevent seeing beautiful women in the future, then they will likely be worsening their venustraphobia in the long run due to the constant reassurance they would be giving themselves.
In such a situation, they may cultivate a sort of false security when they avoid beautiful women as they are getting immediate relief in the short term, but are also likely worsening their venustraphobia in the long term. This is a big problem with people suffering from phobias as it is usually one of the most prominent behaviors exhibited.
Besides avoiding beautiful women specifically, someone with venustraphobia may take it even further than this by isolating themselves entirely so to truly ensure that they never come across a beautiful woman in any way. Similar to what was said before, someone who does this may get some immediate relief from their anxiety due to their isolationism. However, such isolation may open the door to the possibility of them developing additional mental disorders, such as depression or generalized anxiety disorder, among others.
Although this may not always be the case as it will depend on many different factors, such as their genetics and their environment, among other things, it is still possible to occur nonetheless. So, if you are suffering from venustraphobia and find that you are using avoidance or are isolating yourself to ensure that you do not come across your fear of beautiful women, then you may in fact be worsening your symptoms of venustraphobia in the long run.
Talk to your doctor or your therapist if you have any concerns about this condition, especially if you are noticing some of the symptoms of venustraphobia in your own life. Doing so may not only help you to reduce the risk of your venustraphobia worsening, but it may also help to reduce your risk for developing additional conditions as well.