Our feet can be the object of fantasies: some pamper them, massage them, polish them. But they are also the worst nightmare of many people for whom the mere sight of a big toe can trigger a panic attack. We then speak of foot phobia, or podophobia. Most of the time, it is mocked, but it can also lead to avoidance situations that have a strong impact on the life of the podophobe. Where does this phobia come from? How to overcome it? Point.
Podophobia: what is foot phobia?
Podophobia, or foot phobia, refers to irrational fear of feet, his own and those of others. People who suffer from it are seized with disgust and repulsion at the sight of a foot, even at the mere mention of it – this, even if the foot in question is clean and neat. The most common reactions:
- a panic fear when in contact with feetor when their feet are touched;
- a repulsion on seeing people who wear unclosed shoes (thongs, etc.);
- a deep disgust at the sight of a person trying to to pair the toenails.
Also, if you suffer from foot phobia, you are certainly uncomfortable:
- to the swimming pool or at the beach (people are barefoot);
- when someone who takes off his shoes near you ;
- when you have to wash your feet in public ;
- when you participate in a group sport where you have to take off your shoes;
Symptoms: what signs betray foot phobia?
- a increased heart rate ;
- a excessive sweating (excessive sweating);
- of the dizziness may go as far as fainting;
- great anxiety which may cause muscle tension or pain, indigestion, diarrhea or stomach upset;
- of the panic attacks most often accompanied by nausea, chest pain and loss of control, even if it’s nice manicured feet.
When the phobia becomes too great, the podophobe instinctively adopts avoidance strategies to avoid risky situations, even if it means isolating themselves.
As a reminder: this phobia can concern either his own feet or the feet of any other person around him (spouse, children, strangers).
Causes: why be afraid of the feet?
Like all phobias, foot phobia can have different psychological, sociological and cultural causes:
- a trauma childhood (physical abuse, especially of the feet, for example);
- a critical which was not digested younger (mockery, humiliation, etc.);
- the feeling that the feet are always dirty and vectors of germs;
- a behavior or fear transmitted by parentswhich leads to an imitation of their phobic behavior.
What are the consequences for podophobes?
This phobia can be detrimental to health: it often leads those affected to neglect their feet, for fear of touching them. In addition, they always favor the wearing of socks and closed shoes. which can potentially cause fungal infectionsbecause of the fungi or yeasts found there. Corns and calluses can also appear over the long term and go unnoticed. Not to mention the complications in case of diabetes, etc.
In addition, podophobia can really harm the social relations of the patient: his relatives find it difficult to understand his reactions, which they consider excessive. Yet foot phobia involves anxiety, at least constant logistics. This is why podophobes also tend to isolate themselves: they thus avoid all situations in which they risk encountering bare feet (pajama parties, sunbathing on the beach, foot massages, etc.).
If anxiety or feelings of distress take over too much, the help of a doctor or therapist may be helpful. The professional will start with make an inventory : what are your reactions when you are in contact with your feet – or those of others? How long has this problem existed? How often do your foot phobia symptoms occur? How much time do you devote to anticipating problematic situations?
As with any phobia, the main therapeutic tool is then to cognitive and behavioral therapy (TCC), including a gradual exposure protocol. hypnosis can also be an effective tool to understand the origin of this phobia and to find solutions. Just as theEMDR, a trauma management tool. In the most severe cases of anxiety, drug treatment may also be useful (antidepressants or anxiolytics).
Finally, you must ensure that you have a healthy lifestyle: sleep well, practice regular physical activity, etc. This will reduce fear. You won’t become a foot fetishist. But you can limit feelings of disgust and fear.