emetophobia: a persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of vomiting   


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what is emetophobia?


The fear of being sick receives little attention compared with other irrational fears, yet it is the fifth most common phobia, according to the International Emetophobia Society.

Type 'fear of being sick' into search engine Google, and you get nearly 29 million websites. 

It is an extremely debilitating and disabling condition. Victim's lives are dominated by irrational thoughts and actions. Sadly, some women even deny themselves motherhood for fear of morning sickness and some sufferers become housebound.

Emetophobia is rarely spoken of partly because of the nature of the subject - it is unpleasant and 'dirty' and victims are acutely embarrassed. Also, fear of being sick is often 'cloaked' by another phobias.

Many people come to me for help with fear of flying, but during therapy, it emerges that their fear is not of flying, but of being sick and embarrassed. Courses to conquer fear of flying often concentrate on the safety of planes. But reassurances about the physics of flying and the mechanics of the plane will not help a person who fears vomiting.

Claustrophobia and social phobias are other examples of fears that 'cloak' emetophobia. I ask: "Why don't you like crowded rooms?" and patients sometimes reply: "If I feel sick, I can't get out in time and I'll throw up in front of everybody!"

I have been treating emetophobes for fourteen years at my hypnotherapy clinic in Harley Street, London. Most sufferers are female who have had symptoms since their youth. They have wasted years avoiding situations where either they or someone around them could become ill. Because of the extreme lengths they go to avoid sickness most of my clients have not been sick since childhood. Indeed most boast how long it is since the last time they were sick.

Those with a mild phobia have anxious thoughts while eating. Some suffer so severely they refuse to leave their home. Some sufferers experience discomfort almost all the time, others just in response to direct stimuli. Sometimes the phobia hides for years until something triggers it to show itself.




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