What Is Mysophobia?
Mysophobia is the irrational fear of germs and contamination. It's also referred to as Germophobia, Germaphobia, Bacillophobia, Bacteriophobia, and Verminophobia.
Most sufferers fear that they will become infected with harmful contaminates and germs. These people tend to spend most of their lives washing or cleaning themselves as they believe the world is a filthy place.
The severity of a person’s Mysophobia depends on what they fixate as a contaminate. For some, they fear a specific germ or disease. For others, they may fear germs in general. Let’s take a look at the most common symptoms that someone with this particular phobia will have.
Excessive Use Of Antibacterial Soaps and Disinfectants
Excessive Compulsive Hand Washing
Fear of 'Highly Contaminated Places' such as the doctor's office or the dentist
Anxiety Over Media Reports of New Diseases
Fear of Physical Contact
For people that suffer from this particular phobia they know their fears are irrational, but they find it hard to control their actions. Many will spend much of their lives worrying about getting sick, while changing their lifestyle around their fears.
For example, they may avoid going out to social gatherings or public places for fear they may contract a deadly disease. They may avoid any intimate relationships. It's common for Mysophobia sufferers to refuse to eat any food they did not personally prepare, leaving restaurants out of the picture.
There are a few different causes to why people develop phobias, such as this one. Let’s see what these are.
Direct Personal Experience
When people have been deadly sick in the past they will start to fear getting sick again. This will cause them to develop an overly irrational fear of germs.
This cause develops when a person witnesses someone else with a deadly disease. For example, maybe someone close to the phobia sufferer died from a disease they contracted. This will cause the phobia patient to be scared of having the same fate.
This is when the sufferer didn't actually contract a disease or observe someone that did. Rather their phobia develops due to what they are told. This is usually a combination of numerous different sources of information. These include news casts where they talk about deadly diseases or the most unclean places. This could be your parents constantly instilling in you that germs are bad and making you constantly wash yourself.
There are a few different forms of treatment that tend to work to treat Mysophobia. Each of one these treatments is aimed at ‘reprogramming’ the patient’s mind to no longer associate germs or contamination with danger. Let’s take a closer look at each treatment option.
During this treatment the patient will worked with a trained therapist to learn how to control their fears via desensitization. The patient will be exposed to their fear in small degrees. As their anxiety takes hold the therapist will talk them through overpowering that fear. Overtime the sufferer starts to desensitize their brain with the fear, making them able to live a normal life without fear of germs.
Systematic Desensitization Therapy
This is similar to exposure therapy, however instead of exposing you to actual stimuli you will visualize the fears you have. As your anxiety starts to build while you are thinking of these situations your therapist will show you a number of great relaxation techniques that will help you control your anxiety level. It's thought that through repeat visualization and learning a series of coping techniques you will eventually be able to face your actual fear and overpower it.
These don't involve a therapist, in fact they don't involve you sharing your fears with anyone. They are self instruction guides on how to work on overpowering your phobias. Within a good self-help program you will learn why your phobias developed and what you need to do each day to overcome them. These are great for those who don't want to pay hundreds of dollars to a therapist.