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A person with this phobia will usually be anxious and nervous whilst around sick people, wondering if they'll vomit.

Emetophobia (from the Greek εμετός, to vomit, and φόβος (phóbos), meaning "fear") is an intense, irrational fear or anxiety of or pertaining to vomiting. This specific phobia can also include subcategories of what causes the anxiety, including a fear of vomiting in public, a fear of seeing vomit, a fear of watching the action of vomiting or fear of being nauseated.[1] Emetophobia is clinically considered an “elusive predicament” because limited research has been done pertaining to it.[2] The fear of vomiting receives little attention compared with other irrational fears.[3]

Emetophobia may be triggered by upsetting incidents in the teenage years and affects predominately females.[4]


Exposure treatments[edit]

Exposure methods, using video-taped exposure to others vomiting,[5] hypnosis,[6] exposure to nausea [7] and exposure to cues of vomiting [8] Systemic behavior therapy [9] , psychodynamic [10] and psychotherapy [11] have also shown positive effects for the treatment of emetophobia.

Effects on life[edit]

Dr. Lipsitz et al.’s findings also showed that those afflicted with emetophobia often have difficulties comfortably leading a normal life.[1] Many find that they have problems being alone with young children, and they may also avoid social gatherings where alcohol is present.[1] Retaining an occupation becomes difficult for emetophobics. Professions and personal goals can be put on hold due to the high anxiety associated with the phobia,[12] and travelling becomes almost impossible for some.[1]

In Lipsitz et al.’s survey, women afflicted with emetophobia said that they either delayed pregnancy or avoided pregnancy altogether because of the morning sickness associated with the first trimester,[1][13] and if they did become pregnant, it made pregnancy difficult.[1]

Other inhibitions on daily life can be seen in meal preparation.[1] Many emetophobic people also have specific “rituals” for the food they eat and how they prepare it.[1] They frequently check the freshness of the food along with washing it several times in order to prevent any potential sicknesses that they could contract from foods not handled properly.[1] Eating out is also avoided, if possible, and when asked Lipsitz et al.’s survey, many felt they were underweight because of the strict diets that they put upon themselves.[1]

Emetophobia and anorexia[edit]

There are some cases where anorexia is the result of a fear of vomiting instead of the typical psychological problems that trigger it.[12] In Frank M. Datillio’s clinical case study, a situation where anorexia results from emetophobia is mentioned. Datillio says, “…in one particular case report, atypical anorexia in several adolescent females occurred as a result of a fear of vomiting that followed a viral illness as opposed to the specific desire to lose weight or because of an anxiety reaction.”[12]

Notable people with emetophobia[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Lipsitz, Joshua D., et al. "Emetophobia: Preliminary Results of an Internet Survey." Depression & Anxiety (1091–4269) 14.2 (2001): 149-52.
  2. ^ Davidson, Angela L., Christopher Boyle, and Fraser Lauchlan. "Scared to Lose Control? General and Health Locus of Control in Females with a Phobia of Vomiting." Journal of Clinical Psychology 64.1 (2008): 30-9.
  3. ^ Boschen, M. J. (2007). Reconceptualizing emetophobia: a cognitive-behavioral formulation and research agenda. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 21, 407-419. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2006.06.007
  4. ^ Becker, E. S., Rinck, M., Türke, V., Kause, P., Goodwin, R., Neumer, S., & Margraf, J. (2007). Epidemiology of specific phobia subtypes: Findings from the Dresden Mental Health Study. European Psychiatry, 22, 69-74.
  5. ^ McFadyen M, Wyness J (1983). You don’t have to be sick to be a behaviour therapist but it can help! Treatment of a vomit phobia. Behavioural Psychotherapy 11, 173–176.
  6. ^ Wijesinghe B (1974). A vomiting phobia overcome by one session of flooding with hypnosis. Journal of Behavioural Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 5, 169–170.
  7. ^ Lesage A, Lamontagne Y (1985). Paradoxical intention and exposure in vivo in the treatment of psychogenic nausea: report of two cases. Behavioural Psychotherapy 13, 69–75.
  8. ^ Hunter PV, Antony MM (2009). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of emetophobia: the role of interoceptive exposure. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice 16, 84–91.
  9. ^ O’Connor JJ (1983). Why can’t I get hives: brief strategic therapy with an obsessional child. Family Process 22, 201–209.
  10. ^ Ritow JK (1979). Brief treatment of a vomiting phobia. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 21, 293–296.
  11. ^ Manassis K, Kalman E (1990). Anorexia resulting from fear of vomiting in four adolescent girls. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 35, 548–550.
  12. ^ a b c Frank M. Dattilio. "Emetic Exposure and Desensitization Procedures in the Reduction of Nausea and a Fear of Emesis." Clinical Case Studies 2.3 (2003): 199-210.
  13. ^ Nelson-Percy, C. "Treatment of Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy: When should it be Treated and what can be Safely Taken?" Drug Safety 19.2 (1998): 155-64.
  14. ^ Brooker, Charlie (2008-01-14). "Guardian". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  15. ^ "Contact music". Retrieved 2009-09-17.