Ablutophobia is an extreme and irrational fear of bathing, washing or cleaning. A fear of bathing can be observed in many children, but if this fear carries over into adolescence and adulthood, it often becomes ablutophobia. If left untreated, ablutophobia not only worsens in the physical affect, but also on the social life of the person suffering from the condition. People with ablutophobia will continue to avoid bathing and as a result may have to deal with the alienation and health issues that come with having poor hygiene.
Symptoms of Ablutophobia
Identifying ablutophobia should be quite easy. If the victim of the fear is an adolescent or adult and he or she fits the criteria below, the fear is very likely a genuine disorder. Some common symptoms of ablutophobia include:
- Feelings of dread or panic when the prospect of bathing or washing comes up
- Automatic or uncontrollable reactions in response to the fear
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme avoidance
Causes of Ablutophobia
Like all other phobias, there is no universally specific cause. Rather, unique and specific traumatic instances are usually to blame for such disorders. In regards to ablutophobia, some of these instances could relate to childhood accidents that involved water, or abusive or neglectful parents that may have implemented water or bathing as punishment.
Treatment of Ablutophobia
Like many phobias, treatment for the disorder is usually best left to a mental health practitioner. The goal of any such expert is to first target the initial inciting factor that caused the person’s irrational and extreme fear. The patient and therapist will discuss why the fear is unfounded, how they can come to terms with any traumatic experiences that initially triggered the phobia, and ways to deal with the symptoms of the condition. This type of therapy is usually very effective, with a vast majority of patients completely overcoming or successfully coping with ablutophobia symptom-free for years, if not for the remainder of their lives. In other instances, therapists will use cognitive behavioral therapy to help a patient overcome ablutophobia. With this type of treatment, the patient meets with the therapist on a continual basis and, in a systematic and gradual progression, confronts the source of fear while learning to control the physical and mental reactions to it. By facing the phobia head on, the patient becomes accustomed to it and thus, ultimately realizes that his or her initial fears were not grounded in real or imminent danger.
If you are searching for help with ablutophobia, it is easy to find assistance. There are plenty of therapists and peer groups willing to help not only with the disorder, but also the psychological difficulties that come with it. If self-help is not working, do not hesitate to reach out to these resources for support.
- phobiasandfears.org – definition of ablutophobia along with self-help treatments.
- American Psychiatric Association – info about phobias in general, causes, treatment.