Tonsurephobia is the fear of getting a haircut. The word Tonsurephobia is derived from Greek words ‘Tonsure’ meaning ‘ to cut’ and ‘Phobos’ meaning ‘deep dread or aversion’.
While the majority of us love going to a salon to get our hair styled and trimmed, there are some people who absolutely detest the idea of getting a haircut. Children in particular are known to develop an anxiety or phobia about getting their hair trimmed thanks mainly due to a bad experience they might have had during their first haircut. Thus, Tonsurephobia is a very real and honest phobia and one needs to be understanding about it particularly in case of children. That being said, it is also important to help the child overcome it as early as possible, otherwise the phobia could continue well into adulthood impacting one’s confidence, self esteem as well as appearance.
Let us study Tonsurephobia in detail.
Causes of Tonsurephobia
As stated before, children are usually more likely to develop this phobia. The reasons could be numerous- negative traumatic experience in the past, injury or illness or simply having to sit still while a ‘brute of a hairdresser’ trims or chops one’s hair off- this can create lasting negative memories in the child’s mind. Its mind then recreates that situation along with a flight or fight response at the mere idea or thought of getting a haircut. Some people continue experiencing the phobia well into adulthood, while most kids overcome it with age.
In general, certain deficiencies, pre-existing anxiety disorders or other social or specific phobias such as Agoraphobia, etc could also lead to Tonsurephobia. In many cases, a far more serious underlying issue might be at the bottom of the phobia; hence it is essential to get it treated as soon as possible.
The idea of sharp blades coming very close to one’s head or ears etc can lead to this type of phobia. For others, it could be the fear of ridicule, teasing or bullying at school due to the “new look” that can permanently lead to fear of getting haircuts.
Symptoms of fear of haircuts phobia
The symptoms of Tonsurephobia can be categorized into mental, physical or emotional varieties.
- Crying, shaking, trembling or screaming at the thought or idea of a haircut. What starts as mere anxiety develops into a full blown panic attack. A child might refuse to sit still or might have to be pinned down or physically restrained at the time of getting a haircut.
- Some boys tend to keep their hair very long just to avoid going to a salon for getting a haircut. This makes them become objects of ridicule, or even teased or being called a girl. This however, does not stop them and they still adamantly refuse to get their hair cut.
- Women having Tonsurephobia go to extent of shaving off all their hair just to avoid getting frequent haircuts. Others might continue dealing with long split-end-filled tresses due to this phobia.
- Mental or emotional symptoms of Tonsurephobia include “seeing stills of death or dying”, or experiencing constant thoughts of being injured when the hairdresser trims their hair with razors or sharp scissors.
- In some severe cases, the phobia could disrupt one’s relationships or even significantly impact normal functioning at home, school or work.
Treating fear of getting a haircut
In case of children with Tonsurephobia, parents can take the following steps to help the child overcome its fear:
- Comb the child’s hair softly at home, several times a day.
- Let it get familiar with the feel of having water sprayed on their hair/faces.
- Reassure the child. Talk it through the steps of getting a haircut. Tell him/her why one should get a haircut regularly.
- Go online and show it photographs of children getting haircuts.
- Talk about tools and gadgets the hairdresser might use, including hair dryers, trimmer, etc.
- You could take your child to your nearest salon a couple of times just to play and interact with the hairdressers. This can help one get friendly with them, so they feel more comfortable when it is actually time to get their hair cut.
- It is vital that, as parents, you remain calm. If you start showing signs of distress or get angry that the child is not cooperating, then it will only make matters worse. It will further trigger a temper tantrum or panic attack in the child.
- It is important that you understand your child’s fear is absolutely normal. Take small steps and build confidence in it. Do not hesitate to reward the child when you see signs of progress.
- Seek a good hairdresser who knows about this phobia and can patiently deal with it. It will help if the salon you select has a kid-friendly environment and hairdressers that don’t judge the child. These tips will help your child overcome its Tonsurephobia slowly and gradually.
For adults suffering from the fear of getting a haircut, there are many therapies available to treat it. The most effective one is cognitive behavior therapy that helps the person change the way s/he thinks about the fear. Another effective way of overcoming Tonsurephobia is to gradually desensitize oneself by looking at/handling tools used by the hairdresser. One can familiarize oneself with razors, trimmers, scissors etc and even watch people getting haircuts. The final step is to actually get a haircut without giving in to the panic one experiences. These are some important ways of overcoming the fear of getting a haircut phobia.