Some people do not like to be touched. At its most extreme, this aversion to human contact can turn into a phobia. The Latin name for the fear of being touched is Chiraptophobia.This fear can leave its sufferers feeling alone and isolated. Normal human intimacy is a big part of romantic relationships. Even friends and family will expect hugs, pats on the back, and other displays of affection.
The person who fears being touched will seem aloof and remote to the people around them. This can take its toll on a phobic person’s social life, and it can cause damage professionally as well. Hand-shaking and other routine forms of contact are expected in the business world. When a person has difficulty performing these rituals, they can be seen as rude or lacking finesse. This can hinder advancement in the workplace.
Why Do People Suffer From Chiraptophobia?
There are a host of reasons why a person may develop the fear of being touched. One primary reason why some people struggle with this fear is because they endured physical abuse in their past. Children or adults can develop Chiraptophobia because they were touched inappropriately, in sexual or non-sexual ways.
Violence and sexual abuse are examples of breach of trust and cruelty. They leave their mark on the person who becomes afraid of being touched. They relate all human contact to the abuse they went through, and it triggers the memories they fight to suppress.
Other people may develop Chiraptophobia because they are germphobic. For example, real estate magnate Donald Trump avoids shaking hands whenever he can, because he fears the transmission of viruses or other germs. He will find any excuse to forego normal handshaking, and he relies on hand sanitizers and frequent handwashing when he cannot get out of shaking hands with his colleagues. This phobia has not hindered Trump’s advancement in the business world, but it is one of his idiosyncracies.
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Autism and Chiraptophobia
Some children and adults who suffer from autism will display the fear of being touched. This is due to their extreme sensitivity to texture and their environment. They may show a general lack of affection which can be very upsetting to the people who love them.
Personality Disorders And The Fear Of Being Touched
Some personality disorders can affect intimacy. Schizoid personality types will avoid contact with others as a result of their disorder. People with Avoidant Personality Disorder will also shun human contact. Both of these types will have an isolated lifestyle, and they may fear being touched by other people.
Symptoms Of Fear Of Being Touched
A person with this phobia will shrink away from another person if they try to get close. They will show distress and anxiety during medical or dental examinations where touching is essential. Depending on the person’s age, they may cry or try to flee when they think they will be touched. Some people who have suffered childhood sexual abuse will describe the feeling of being touched as a “burning” sensation that is unpleasant and frightening.
Panic attack symptoms may surface when the Chiraptophobic fears contact with another person. They may feel dizziness, heart palpitations, intense fear, and a sense of doom.
Why Do These Symptoms Occur?
Every human being needs their personal space. When it is invaded, we feel violated. The person who fears being touched takes this natural trait to an unhealthy extreme. They fight to maintain and protect their personal space, beyond what most people would consider normal. They may feel a desire to strike out at anyone who threatens their safety through touching.
Treatment For The Fear Of Being Touched
Psychiatry can be of great assistance to someone with this fear. Dealing with the root of why the person fears touching will help to resolve the phobia. In some cases, the person may be a victim of some unwanted physical contact, such as sexual assault. It is important to seek proper therapy from a qualified medical professional, in order to address the issues of the past.
Some people benefit from alternative treatments such as hypnotherapy and tapping therapy. Hypnotherapy will allow a person to block or erase their fears through the power of suggestion. It does not work for everyone, but it should be considered if the phobia is causing difficulties in the course of daily life. Tapping therapy is the practice of tapping the forehead to retrain the brain. This form of therapy is cognitive. It is also controversial, but it has been used with some success on persons suffering from Chiraptophobia.