A phobia is defined as an irrational fear of a situation or an object. Philemaphobia or Philematophobia is the extreme fear of kissing. The word Philematophobia originates from ‘Philema’ which is the Greek word for kissing and ‘Phobos’ which is also Greek for ‘fear or dread’.
Most people love kissing. In fact; kissing is an accepted and a standard form of greeting someone in some cultures and even showing one’s love. Some people, however, develop an irrational fear of this act of kissing. While this phobia might not interfere with one’s day to day life, it can certainly harm one’s personal and social relationships or interactions. Often; Philematophobia is associated with other phobias such as the fear of intimacy, fear of sexual intercourse or the fear of germs etc. The phobic could even be suffering from other anxiety disorders such as Agoraphobia or the fear of failing to escape.
A kiss is a sweet moment, especially when it is involved between willing partners looking for sexual intimacy or those wanting to display feelings of love. Some people might be only afraid of the first kiss; they might be fearful about not measuring up to their partner’s expectations. However; things are different in Philemaphobia: the phobia affects the person deeply enough that s/he cannot bear the mere thought of kissing. Seeing people kiss on TV or in movies could set off a disgust response or a full blown panic attack in the sufferer.
Causes of Philemaphobia
- Philematophobia often arises from cultural or religious beliefs (that the act is sinful).
- Secondly, some cases of fear of kissing phobia may stem from a past of sexual violence. Victims of rape, sexual abuse or assaults could be turned off this act forever.
- Then there are people who might fear kissing because they are afraid of getting emotionally or sexually involved with the person they are kissing. A history of failed relationships can also lead to this fear. One might be afraid of disgusting or turning off one’s partner owing to hygiene or sanitation issues such as bad breath (or having been termed a ‘bad kisser’ in the past). In this case, the fear of kissing might originate from a poor body image or self esteem.
- People with the excessive fear of germs, disease or illness could also find kissing repulsive enough to be disgusted or fearful about it.
Symptoms of fear of kissing phobia
The symptoms of Philematophobia vary based upon the level of fear the individual experiences. Some people have a full blown panic attack at the thought or sight of kissing which is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Shallow and rapid breathing-hyperventilating
- The desire to flee from the place or hide
- Irregular heartbeat or palpitations
- Excessive sweating, dry mouth
- Experiencing a bout of nausea or gastrointestinal distress
Naturally, these symptoms often get into the way of the phobic’s relationships. One might have trouble dating or finding a life partner. Often his/her friendships are affected as they get laughed upon owing to their fear. The Philematophobic usually realizes that this fear is unwarranted; but try as he might, one is unable to control one’s anxiety. The result is that the person tends to be withdrawn, lonely or even depressed. As stated above, there may be other phobias such as the fear of disease, or fear of getting intimate in the phobic. These may compel him/her to show signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder characterized by performing an action (such as cleaning, washing hands or face etc) repeatedly.
- To overcome the fear of kissing, one must determine its root cause. If it is the fear of germs or falling sick, one could educate him/herself about germs or try to improve immunity. Kissing can be a beautiful experience, provided it is done with the right person. One can start small in order to see that the act does not always lead to sickness. Naturally, one has to have an understanding partner for the purpose.
- In order to become more confidence and a better kisser, one could try and prepare ahead by brushing one’s teeth and paying attention to personal hygiene.
- If a traumatic event lies at the root of Philematophobia, then counseling in the form of talk therapy, systematic desensitization or gradual exposure therapy can help. Also Hypnotherapy and Neuro linguistic programming therapy are known to get to the bottom of any phobia to gradually reduce the anxiety experienced.
- In extreme cases, medication might be prescribed but it must not to be used as a long term solution since its side effects could be debilitating. There are several other techniques such as Yoga, Meditation and Tai Chi etc which can help one become more confident and lessen the probability of anxiety attacks.
These are some of the well known methods of overcoming the fear of kissing phobia for good.