Definition of Scoleciphobia or the fear of worms. This article provides information on the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this phobia.
Scoleciphobia is an intense, irrational fear of worms. The scoleciphobic person may also generalize this fear to include anything that looks like a worm. This might include caterpillars, maggots, grubs, tapeworms, etc. One might logically assume that the individual coping with Scoleciphobia may fear being infested or contaminated. These individuals may refuse to go outdoors after rain or completely avoid gardening.
Sometimes referred to as Vermiphobia, Scoleciphobia derives from the Greek “skolex”, meaning worm, maggot or grub and “phobos” meaning fear.
What Causes Scoleciphobia?
As with all phobias, the person impacted by Scoleciphobia has experienced some trauma at some time in their life. Thereafter, that traumatic experience is automatically and consistently associated with worms.
Perhaps the scoleciphobic individual watched the fearful and negative response of others when confronted with worms and learned to imitate that reaction. Maybe, as a child, this person was the victim of a practical joke that involved worms. Maybe the person compromised by this phobia simply didn’t like worms and over time, a full fledged phobia developed.
Whatever the cause, the scoleciphobic person can experience anxiety and turmoil that is completely disruptive to their ability to function.
What Are the Symptoms of Scoleciphobia?
The symptoms of Scoleciphobia are individual and will vary person to person. Some people, when confronted with their fear of worms, may begin to perspire, feel slightly uncomfortable or become nauseated. At the opposite end of the spectrum, other people are so severely compromised by this phobia, that they may experience crippling anxiety and/or panic attacks.
Other symptoms of Scoleciphobia may include:
- A Dry Mouth
- Heart Palpitations
- Heightened Senses
- Feeling Dizzy
- Muscle Tension
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Feeling Out of Control
- Feeling Trapped and Unable to Escape
- Intense Feeling of Impending Disaster
How Is Scoleciphobia Diagnosed?
The vast majority of cases of Scoleciphobia are self-diagnosed. The individual realizes that their fear of worms is irrational and is severely compromising their ability to function on a daily basis.
The scoleciphobic person may discuss their phobia with the primary physician. Rarely would the doctor diagnosis Scoleciphobia based on that initial discussion with the patient. More routinely, after ruling out any medical reason for this phobia, the doctor will refer the person to a mental health professional for comprehensive assessment and evaluation.
How Is Scoleciphobia Treated?
When the fear of worms becomes intense enough to disrupt an individual’s ability to function, there are a number of ways to treat Scoleciphobia.
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 such as purposeful muscle relaxation.
- Support groups with other people who are coping with this specific phobia.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Desensitization Therapy.
- Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visualization.
- In severe cases of Scoleciphobia, anti-anxiety medication can be prescribed.
Scoleciphobia is an intense, irrational fear of worms. Sometimes that fear can become so overwhelming as to completely halt a person’s ability to function on a daily basis. Unchecked, Scoleciphobia can become a debilitating condition that interferes with an individual’s personal life, their social life and job responsibilities. Untreated, Scoleciphobia can have a devastating impact on every aspect of a person’s life.