Do you have a little one who is afraid of getting in the bathtub and splashing around in the water? If so, then your little tyke may suffer from a condition called ablutophobia. According to phobia dictionary, ablutophobia is the fear of bathing. This fear can be of something as simple as just hearing a shower to a full on fear of all washing, whether it is shower, tub, or just a quick sponge bath. While this is not a common phobia, it is no less detrimental to those who suffer from it.
Ablutophobia often manifests itself in children and women, although some men are known to suffer from it as well. This phobia is not just a dislike of getting in the bathtub. Many children don’t like to take baths but have no real fear of the actual bathing process. Because of this, most psychotherapists will not diagnose a child as having ablutophobia unless the problem is persistent for more than six months. At this point, your child’s therapist may consider diagnosis and treatment for this condition.
If a child is suffering from ablutophobia, the condition could carry into adulthood. Parents of ablutophobic children shouldn’t expect them to just grow out of it, as this most likely will not happen. Left untreated there are other issues that may arise as a result of being ablutophobic. Self-image issues and social acceptance issues may manifest over time.
Often times, ablutophobia manifests itself after a trauma concerning the bath or shower. The trauma doesn’t necessarily have to happen to you. It could be something that happened to a family member, close friend, or something that you saw on the news or read in the paper or online. It could even manifest itself after seeing a movie or television show. For example, there were a high number of people who began to suffer from ablutophobia after the release of the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Psycho. The shower scene was enough to cause many people to want never shower again.
Being clean and hygienic is important in today’s society. If you suffer from ablutophobia, then you most likely don’t take a daily shower or bath. This leaves you looking and smelling unclean which can cause social problems as it is unacceptable in today’s culture. Over the long term, this can start to affect your relationships and cause problems at work or at school. It can also lead to unhealthy body image issues.
Because cleanliness is the first step in fighting off illnesses, those with this condition may be more prone to common diseases.
There is treatment for those who suffer from ablutophobia. Cognitive behavior therapy can help to alleviate the symptoms. Your therapist will give you a series of exercises to help you over come your fear. One such exercise might be to turn the shower on and then sit in the bathroom while it is running. You may be instructed to do this several times over the course of several weeks until you start to feel comfortable with the sound.
Instructions also may include replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. You may have to tell yourself verbally that everything will be okay while you are in the shower. This repetition of speaking positive thinking while bathing will eventually change the way you feel about the shower. The idea is to learn how to relax and self-soothe. For those who are particularly anxious, medication may be prescribed while you undergo relaxation therapy.
Ablutophobia is a rare fear but a very real one. Those that suffer from this condition will not get better on their own. With the help of a trained professional, however, this disorder is curable.