What is Hemophobia?
Hemophobia, also spelled “Hemaphobia”, “Haemaphobia” or “Hematophobia” is the extreme and irrational fear of blood.
Severe cases of this fear can cause physical reactions, specifically vasovagal syncope (fainting). Similar reactions can also occur with Trypanophobia and Traumatophobia. For this reason, these phobias are categorized as "blood-injection-injury phobia" by the DSM-IV. Some early texts refer to this category as "blood-injury-illness phobia”.
This fear is also related to Epistaxiophobia (fear of having or seeing nosebleeds or bleeding to death).
The name originates from the Greek word 'hemo' meaning 'blood' and the word 'phobia' comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning 'fear.'
Symptoms of Hemophobia
Extreme Anxiety, Dread
- Shortness of Breath
- Rapid Breathing
- Heart Palpitations
- Excessive Sweating
- Dry Mouth
- Confusion / Inability to Articulate Clearly
- Lack of Focus
- Feelings of Powerlessness
- Obsession with the Subject of the Phobia
- Fear or Feelings of Losing Control
- Avoidance Behavior
Causes of Hemophobia
Hemophobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, centered on non-social key factors. Isolated phobias tend to have some previous trauma (often in childhood and often physically injurious) as a root cause; a fear of bees may stem from an injury in childhood, for instance.
Upbringing can also play a role, such as parental warnings about a direct threat (such as “snakes can bite and kill you”) which is especially notable in cases where a threat is more imminent. (An allergy to bees or peanut butter, for instance, would naturally reinforce a real medical concern.)
It is thought that genetics and hereditary factors may play a role in specific phobias, especially those related to a danger of injury. (A primal “fight or flight” reflex may be more easily triggered in those with a genetic predisposition, for instance.)
By contrast, social phobias (like a fear of body odor or touch) are less well understood, are driven by social anxiety and are broadly labeled as “social anxiety disorder”.
In all kinds of phobias, external experiences and / or reports can further reinforce or develop the fear, such as seeing a family member or friend who is affected. In extreme cases, indirect exposures can be as remote as overhearing a reference in conversation, seeing something in the news, on TV, or in the movies.
Hemophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.
A fear of blood phobia is most often triggered by a fear of the field of medicine or medical treatment, as it is often related to blood, injections, injury, etc.
Hypochondriasis or Nosophobias are also linked to Hemophobia. Hypochondriasis and Nosophobia are both fears of becoming sick or developing specific diseases like cancer, diabetes etc.
The fear of germs can also trigger Hemophobia, since the sufferer will often be afraid of ‘catching germs’ from someone else’s blood.
Treatments for Hemophobia
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
- Habit Strategies To Relax
- Cognitive Therapy (CT)
- In Vivo Exposure
- Response Prevention
- Group Therapy
- Energy Psychology