Definition of Ablutophobia or the fear of bathing. Discusses the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this phobia.
What Is Ablutophobia?
Ablutophobia is a persistent, irrational fear of washing or of bathing. Typically, the ablutophobic individual may also have an intense fear of being bathed or washed. Obviously, Ablutophobia impacts the phobic individual’s personal hygiene and in extreme cases can severely compromise that person’s general physical health.
Ablutophobia derives from the Greek word “ebliut”, meaning to wash and “phobos” meaning fear.
What Causes Ablutophobia?
A fear of bathing is sometimes commonly seen in small children. The vast majority quickly outgrow their fear and bath time becomes an enjoyable experience.
However, as is the case with all phobias, the person coping with Ablutophobia has been traumatized at some point in their life. That traumatic experience is then consistently associated with washing and bathing.
Maybe the ablutophobic individual was abused as a child and now associates bathing or washing with that trauma. Perhaps the person coping with this phobia has knowledge of another individual’s trauma. Maybe, in this person’s childhood, there was another adult who was ablutophobic. In this example, Ablutophobia would have resulted from watching another respond to bathing and washing in a negative way. Perhaps the person impacted by this phobia simply learned to imitate that negative response.
Whatever the cause, the ablutophobic person can experience anxiety and emotional turmoil that can completely disrupt their ability to function on a daily basis.
What Are the Symptoms of Ablutophobia?
The symptoms of Ablutophobia are individual and will vary. Some people, when confronted with their fear of bathing, may feel slightly uncomfortable, become nauseated and begin to perspire. At the opposite end of the spectrum, other individuals are so severely compromised by this phobia, that they experience crippling anxiety and/or panic attacks.
Other symptoms of Ablutophobia can include:
* A Dry Mouth
* Rapid Heartbeat
* Muscle Tension
* Feeling Out of Control
* Feeling Trapped and Unable to Escape
* Intense Feeling of Impending Disaster
How Is Ablutophobia Diagnosed?
The vast majority of cases of Ablutophobia are self-diagnosed. The individual realizes that their fear of bathing and washing is irrational and is severely limiting their ability to function.
The ablutophobic person may discuss their phobia and fears with their primary physician. Rarely will the doctor diagnosis Ablutophobia based on that initial discussion with the patient. More routinely, after ruling out any physical reasons for the phobia, the doctor will refer the individual to a mental health professional for further assessment and evaluation.
How Is Ablutophobia Treated?
When the fear of bathing and washing becomes so intense as to disrupt a person’s daily functioning, there are a variety of different ways to treat Ablutophobia.
These can include:
* A referral from the primary physician to a therapist who specializes in the treatment of phobias.
* Traditional “talk” therapy that will teach the person to recognize and control their phobia.
* Exposure Therapy.
* Self-help techniques.
* Support groups with other individuals coping with this specific phobia.
* Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Desensitization Therapy.
* Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing.
* In severe cases of Ablutophobia, anti-anxiety medication can be prescribed.
Ablutophobia is an intense, irrational fear of bathing and washing. Sometimes that fear can become so overwhelming as to completely halt a person’s ability to function on a daily basis. Unchecked, Ablutophobia can become a debilitating condition that interferes with an individual’s social life, their personal life and their job responsibilities. Untreated, Ablutophobia touches every aspect of the person’s life.