Androphobia is the abnormal and persistent fear of men (Greek: Andras-man and phobos-fear). Like with all fears, the fear of men is also ingrained or pre-programmed as an ‘instinctual response to potential danger’. Such a phobia can afflict men and women, but is typically seen in younger females.
Like with many other phobias, the fear of men phobia might continue into adulthood. The sufferers typically refuse to be left alone with a man, despite his being a close friend or relative. They might have nightmares about men. This can greatly affect the quality of life, especially if they refuse to step outside, fearing an encounter with man.
Sometimes, individuals may be able to lead normal lives despite their phobia; they may have male friends, but they might not form relationships with men or might feel very nervous working with men.
Causes and origin of Androphobia
As with most phobias, Androphobia has different origins.
Most commonly, a negative or traumatic event, such as rape or sexual assault, is quite likely responsible for it. The brain of the phobic, mainly its parts like amygdala and hypothalamus “learn” to re-create the same fear response as that at the time of the event. These areas are also responsible for the physical responses to fear.
Little girls are commonly taught to stay away from the opposite sex; this is ingrained since one’s childhood. Caregivers, parents or grandparents can all be responsible for instilling such a fear in young minds. Warnings like “stay away from strange men, or do not drive in a car with a man” etc can all lead to ‘reprogramming’ of the brain.
TV shows, movies, news reports of rape, kidnapping, or murder etc can also lead to fear of men phobia.
Fear of men phobia symptoms
Androphobia is characterized by many symptoms such as:
- Physical symptoms: One or more of the following symptoms may be present such as: rapid breathing, higher pulse rate (heart palpitations), trembling or shaking, sweating, feeling like fainting or dizziness, feeling like choking or having chest pains, gastrointestinal distress, nausea etc. These happen when one comes close to a man or even thinks of an encounter with a man.
- Psychological symptoms: Feelings or thoughts of dread, terror, panic, extreme anxiety, thoughts of dying, fearing losing control and embarrassing self.
The phobic may be depressed owing to the fear. S/he might have trouble sleeping and eating due to the phobia. Most stutter or stammer when talking to men. Younger individuals might cry, scream or run away when faced with men.
If you or a loved one suffers from Androphobia, then do note that it is a curable condition. You must, first of all, discipline yourself to adjust to your fear. Such an adjustment must be done gradually; it is called as gradual desensitization or graded exposure therapy. You can start small: see photos of men, think about meeting or talking to them and so on. You can also use relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation etc to overcome the anxiety associated with your phobia.
Group therapy or individual talk therapy sessions can also help overcome the fear of men. Hypnotherapy is known to be highly successful in getting to the bottom of such phobias. Once you discover the roots of it, you will be able to see reason and rationalize the fear.
Therapists also encourage phobics to write down their fears and counter them with positive or rational thoughts. For example: I fear meeting a man because he might harm me” is changed into “My fear is baseless, men can be friendly” and so on.
Drug therapy or medication is the last line of treatment for Androphobia: these only offer short term relief and often result in terrible side effects.