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Gymnophobia (from Greek γυμνός - gumnos, "naked" and φόβος - phobos, "fear") is a fear (phobia) of nudity. Gymnophobics experience anxiety from nudity, even if they realize their fear is irrational. They may worry about seeing others naked or being seen naked, or both. Their fear may stem from a general anxiety about sexuality, from a fear that they are physically inferior, or from a fear that their nakedness leaves them exposed and unprotected.
Gymnophobia should not be confused with avoidance or shunning of many forms of nudity on modesty or other rational or moral grounds. Many people avoid public nudity as well as nudity in private situations, and some have an aversion to nudity as an aspect of prudishness or body shame.
Gymnophobia refers to an actual fear of nudity, but most sufferers with the condition learn how to function in general society despite the condition. They may, for example, avoid changing rooms, washrooms, showers, and beaches. However, the condition can be regarded as an anxiety disorder if the person cannot control the phobia or it is interfering with their daily life. Gymnophobia is common among children, especially those undergoing puberty. Child gymnophobia is common due to peer pressure, bullying, and a fear of exposing sexual organs.
Tobias Fünke, a main cast member on the sitcom Arrested Development self-identifies as a "Never Nude", a person who suffers "a rare psychological affliction of never being able to be completely naked, even when alone". The sitcom narrator notes that the "DSM-IV does not acknowledge the affliction", which reportedly affects "dozens" of people. Despite its fictional nature, "Never Nudism" has been likened to the real-life condition gymnophobia.
- γυμνός, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- φόβος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- Edmund J. Bourne (2005-05-01). The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook. New Harbinger Publications Incorporated. ISBN 978-1-57224-413-9.