In the context of intimate relationships disrobing is a sense of mutual vulnerability that often is expressed in the act of enjoying each other physically. Those who fear nakedness are said to suffer from Nudophobia.
The biblical account of earth’s first couple indicates they were naked, yet felt no shame. Adam and Eve were comfortable with their bodies and comfortable with their partner’s body. Something happened in the Garden of Eden that changed all of that. The story tells us that an act of disobedience caused them to view nakedness as something shameful.
Some may argue the factual basis of the story, but the truth is many people are uncomfortable without clothing – and they may not be especially concerned about the origin of their fear.
What Causes Nudophobia?
Parents who strongly emphasized modesty of dress and character may unintentionally perpetuate this fear. While this is an admirable trait it can also cause children to view the natural functions of their body as sinful if not balanced with a future look at the beauty of the nakedness in a committed relationship. The end result can be frigidity, even in marriage.
This fear can also begin in an individual who was sexual abused and can be enhanced if they were made to feel as if the abuse was their fault. These individuals often feel as if they are not beautiful and could never be viewed as attractive to anyone else. Ultimately they view themselves as ‘damaged goods’.
A third cause could be negative body image caused by a parent of friend expressing reservations about their beauty. If a young girl or boy are told they are ‘fat’ or oddly shaped it is not surprising to find that these individual will struggle with feeling comfortable naked with their partner.
In a strange sense this fear may even be tied to a fear of self and fear of sex. Those who have this fear struggle with the vulnerability needed in physical relationships. They will also have difficulty believing that anyone could find them attractive.
Symptoms of Nudophobia
A nudophobe will wear modest dress and may struggle with feeling confident enough to wear a swimsuit to go swimming or a prom dress. They may struggle in dressing rooms when no private dressing quarters are available. They might even be extremely uncomfortable around anyone else that is nude.
Other symptoms include…
- Panic attacks
- Loss of bodily functions in acute cases
- Air hunger
- Elevated or irregular heartbeats
- An urge to flee compromising settings
These symptoms are tied to self-image issues, but the fear is often evidenced by incidents that have happened in the past. Those who have this fear may not cultivate deep relationships.
How to Overcome Nudophobia
A therapist will likely be needed to help the nudophobe identify the original hurt that caused the fear. Remember this hurt could be either physical or emotional, but it is real nonetheless.
By unmasking the original fear and the faulty thinking that allowed that fear to exist and grow the nudophobe can begin to learn the importance of vulnerability to something we all need – love. That may be motivation enough to seek the help needed to overcome.