Fear of Tapeworms

The thought of having a parasite inside your body may have visions of the movie Aliens running through your mind. It certainly can be disconcerting, but it can also cause an obsessive caution that can lead to a phobia. When it comes to the tapeworm that fear is known as Teniophobia.

According to Wikipedia, “Tapeworm infestation is the infection of the digestive tract by adult parasitic flatworms called cestodes or tapeworms. Live tapeworm larvae (coenuri) are sometimes ingested by consuming undercooked food. Once inside the digestive tract, a larva can grow into a very large adult tapeworm. Additionally, many tapeworm larvae cause symptoms in an intermediate host. For example, cysticercosis is a disease of humans involving larval tapeworms in the human body.”

What Causes Teniophobia?

One of the most obvious causes of this fear is if the individual either had a tapeworm infestation sometime in their past or they somehow observed evidence of a tapeworm in someone else. The experience could lead an individual to conclude they should do everything in their power to avoid the possibility of a tapeworm infestation.

The fear could also be transferred from a trusted adult who was overly anxious about tapeworms.

The transfer of tapeworm eggs can occur in food so many who fear tapeworms are very careful about the foods they eat and how those foods are prepared.

This fear can be especially pronounced if a portion of a tapeworm was passed in fecal matter at some point in their past. The reason this is true is that many times those segments will be moving. That image can be a strong catalyst for potential fear development – especially if those around you also become highly agitated at the discovery.

Symptoms of Teniophobia

A person with this fear may only wish to eat foods they have prepared to ensure no tapeworms could survive. They may not have a comfort in eating out and will do without food in social settings even if they are hungry.

Other symptoms may include…

  • Nausea
  • Air hunger
  • Trembling
  • Weeping
  • Elevated heart rates
  • Vomiting
  • Loose bowels
  • Panic attacks

No one can really blame someone who has previously experienced a tapeworm for being cautious about a potential recurrence.  The fear however displaces caution with an often irrational distancing from anything that might potentially include a tapeworm.

How to Overcome Teniophobia

Tapeworms are often transferred through pork, beef and fish. The common denominator in transference is when the food is undercooked. It should also be noted that in most cases tapeworms are now mostly seen in Africa and Asia. You should know that if a tapeworm is discovered there are now one treatment options that can fix the problem.

I mention this information as a point of education. Why? This is often the best first step in tackling a fear. If you live in the United States it is very likely you will never experience a tapeworm infestation. However if you still have this fear you may find benefit in speaking with a therapist who can help you learn to deal with the fear.

The fear of tapeworms is also referred to as:

  • Tapeworm fear
  • Teniophobia
  • Taeniophobia
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