No, we’re not talking about the fear of gyms or exercise. The Greek derivation of the word is broken down as “Gymnos,” which means naked, and “Phobos,” which means fear. Gymnophobia means the fear of being naked or seeing others naked.

Symptoms of Gymnophobia

  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Causes of Gymnophobia

There are a multitude of reasons why people develop this phobia. As with many phobias, the fear can stem from something developed in the sufferer’s mind, such as an emotion. Many people with Gymnophobia feel that their body is inferior to others and therefore, do not want to expose themselves. For others, the scar is deeper in that they associate being naked with exposing not only their bodies, but their personalities as well. People with Gymnophobia do not like to use the bathroom, change clothes or even shower because they just cannot stand to see themselves naked. This definitely delves into the realm of self-esteem and self-esteem issues.

Gymnophobia can interfere with a person’s activities, but more severely, it can decrease their quality of life. People who suffer with this phobia may have experienced a traumatic event in their past that hinders them from being able to feel comfortable naked or seeing their own naked body. They may feel an extreme anxiety when naked because of lack of protection, such as protection from clothing. This can be attributed to a serious past experience. This fear can also be triggered by something a person saw on television or in a movie. A public standard for modesty prevents public nudity, and those suffering from Gymnophobia might be extending that modesty to their private situations such as in their own home. Childhood Gymnophobia is also common due to peer pressure, bullying and fear of exposing private parts. Anything traumatic that is seen or happens in life can induce a downward spiral into a serious phobia. But as with any phobia, there is help.

Treatment of Gymnophobia

There are several different treatment options in working with those who suffer from Gymnophobia. The goal is to track down the cause of the phobia, or the root of the problem. To start, speak with your doctor for the best referral to a mental health professional. This specialist can walk you through the process to living a healthy life. They may examine your thoughts through images and sounds, and redirect your subconscious mind to respond to situations appropriately. Whatever therapeutic method you choose, know that you can overcome this phobia.

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