What is Philematophobia?

Philematophobia, also spelled “Philemaphobia”, is the intense and irrational fear of kissing. It is classified as a specific phobia whose subjects tend to be Germaphobic (people with fear of contamination and germs) and Sexophobic (people with fear of opposite sex) as well. Philematophobia is also related to Malaxophobia, which is the fear of love play. Sufferers may also have an intense fear of bad breath, fears about body odors, etc.

Its origin is from the Greek word 'philema' meaning 'kissing' and the word 'phobia' comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning 'fear.'

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Symptoms of Philematophobia

  • Extreme Anxiety, Dread

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Confusion / Inability to Articulate Clearly
  • Lack of Focus
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Feelings of Powerlessness
  • Obsession with the Subject of the Phobia
  • Fear or Feelings of Losing Control
  • Avoidance Behavior
  • Headaches

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Causes of Philematophobia

Philematophobia 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.

Philematophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.

Philematophobia often arises from cultural or religious beliefs (that the act is sinful). Fear of kissing may stem directly from past sexual violence, abuse, or failed relationships.

This fear can also develop from avoidance of emotional involvement. A history of failed relationships can also contribute to this fear, and problems with past intimacy (even from issues such as body odor or bad breath) may also contribute.

People with an excessive fear of germs, disease, or illness could also find kissing repulsive enough to be disgusted or fearful.

Learn more about the causes of phobias ›

Treatments for Philematophobia

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

  • Habit Strategies To Relax
  • Cognitive Therapy (CT)
  • In Vivo Exposure
  • Response Prevention
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Medication
  • Meditation

Learn more about phobia treatments ›

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