Ablutophobia, or fear of swimming, is a relatively rare but serious phobia that appears to be more prevalent in women and children.
Yes, many children clearly don’t like baths, but one phobia is different. If your healthcare professional follows the new guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association, they are unlikely to give a diagnosis of ablutophobia unless the extreme overestimation of danger persists for more than six months.
Ablutophobia, like all phobias, is an anxiety disorder. It is clinically known as a specific phobia, which is excessive or unreasonable fear of an object or situation.It can manifest itself in a number of ways, ranging from fear of taking a shower to a complete phobia to wash.
Causes of ablutophobia
Like all specific phobias, a traumatic past event is usually the trigger for ablutophobia, although you may or may not remember it consciously.How did you get the ablutophobia?
- A traumatic past event may have happened to you, a relative, or even someone in a movie or TV show. For example, some horror movie fans claim to be afraid to take a shower after seeing Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”.
- This anxiety disorder can also develop from the fears of others. If a parent or close relative had the same fear, you may have internalized that person’s reactions as a child.
- Many children try to avoid bath time, either out of fear or out of simple preference. It is possible that your childhood aversion has carried over into your adult life.
Complications of ablutophobia
Cleanliness and hygiene are top priorities in the modern world and failure to shower daily can make you look or smell “unclean” which is generally considered unacceptable. Not washing regularly can have negative consequences, such as:
- Problems at work or school and in your personal relationships
- Isolation, which can lead to social phobia or even agoraphobia
- A higher risk of developing body image disorders
In addition, personal hygiene is a first step in avoiding illness.Letting dirt and bacteria stay on your skin and hair for long periods of time could increase your risk for common and rare diseases. This is especially true if your phobia is forcing you to avoid washing your hands after using the bathroom or when preparing food.
Treatments for ablutophobia
Like most specific phobias, cognitive behavioral therapy techniques are often part of an ablutophobia treatment plan.Your therapist will likely encourage you to examine your fear and replace your negative self-talk with more appropriate messages. She might give you homework that involves baby steps, like turning on the shower and sitting in the bathroom with her on.
The goal of therapy is to train you to relax and use your newly learned self-talk to allay your fears while slowly facing the object of your phobia. If you are extremely anxious, your doctor may prescribe medication or suggest hypnosis to help control the fear.
Ablutophobia is highly treatable by trained professionals, but almost impossible to overcome on your own.