Blood is the very stuff of life: it sustains us. But blood can also be a harbinger of death and disease. Blood is fascinating and powerful, both as a substance and as a symbol. It appears in all manner of art, literature, and culture.
The bright crimson hue of blood is thought to serve as a warning system for the human body. When we are bleeding, we are in danger. While many people have no great fear of blood, in others, it can provoke a phobic reaction known as hemophobia (or hemotophobia).
Symptoms Of Fear Of Blood
The queasiness or severe nausea that are common for sufferers of hemophobia may cause fainting and lightheadedness. In fact, in the best-selling novel Twilight, the heroine, Bella, faints when blood is used during a science class project. This modern example of hemophobia is particularly interesting, since Bella goes on to fall in love with a blood-drinking vampire named Edward Cullen.
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Bella cannot stand the sight of blood. Like many others who suffer from the phobia, she must get away from the substance in order to feel healthy again.
Most hemophobics avoid situations where blood is taken, such as donor clinics. They will also avoid bloody spectacles such as Ultimate Fighting matches and boxing bouts. The first row of seats surrounding a boxing ring is traditionally known as “the red ring“, because spectators often get spattered with the contestant’s blood.
The smell of blood can also be a source of distress in hemophobics. The coppery, metallic scent of fresh blood can cause great psychological distress in afflicted persons.
Some hemophobics may become vegetarians or vegans in order to remove themselves from the reality of preparing and eating flesh foods. The handling of raw, bloody meat can make them physically ill.
Why Do Some People Fear Blood?
Science and technology have exacerbated this phobia. As we come to understand more about the transmission of diseases through the blood, it becomes easy to fear its harmful qualities. People are more reluctant to touch another person’s blood than ever before, and with good reason.
AIDS and Hepatitis C are just two examples of life-threatening diseases caused through blood transmission. Other examples of terrifying blood-borne pathogens are the Ebola virus, which was featured in the film Outbreak, and the very similar Marburg virus.
Hemophobia In Our Culture
Fear of blood is not a new phenomenon. It has existed, in one form or another, for centuries. Some psychologists believe the popularity of vampire stories, which endures from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to modern day books and films, can be traced back to the latent fear of blood. Vampires feast on blood, and their lack of fear and mortality makes them a source of endless fascination.
Popular author Anne Rice specializes in darkly elegant vampire tales that intrigue the reader. She completed her first novel, Interview With The Vampire, after her daughter Michele died of leukemia, a cancer of the blood.
Treatment For Hemophobia
The fear of blood is believed to be caused by childhood trauma, or else through a genetic predisposition. Treating the phobia can be difficult, but some success has been attained through the use of pacemakers. These devices help to regulate the heartbeat and control the most dangerous symptoms of hemophobia.
Traditional therapies for phobias may also prove successful. Hypnotherapy and psychotherapy can ease the tension and sickness that the fear of blood brings on.
Careful attention to safety and hygiene while in the presence of blood will help to ease the fear of phobic persons. Latex gloves, and other protective gear, will make it easier for them to be around the upsetting substance. But these safety measures will not cure hemophobia.