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"Germophobia" redirects here. For Germanophobia (a fear of Germany), see Anti-German sentiment.

Mysophobia, also known as verminophobia, germophobia, germaphobia, bacillophobia and bacteriophobia, is a pathological fear of contamination and germs. The term was coined by Dr. William Alexander Hammond in 1879 when describing a case of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) exhibited in repeatedly washing one's hands. Mysophobia has long been related to the OCD of constantly washing one's hands. However, Harry Stack Sullivan, an American psychologist and psychoanalyst, notes that while fear of dirt underlies the compulsion of a person with this kind of OCD, his or her mental state is not about germs; instead, this person feels the hands must be washed. Names pertaining directly to the abnormal fear of dirt and filth include molysmophobia or molysomophobia, rhypophobia, and rupophobia, whereas the terms bacillophobia and bacteriophobia specifically refer to the fear of bacteria and microbes in general.[1]

The term mysophobia comes from the Greek μύσος musos, "uncleanness"[2] and φόβος phobos, "fear".[3]

In popular culture[edit]

On the popular TV show, Arthur, Buster Baxter temporarily suffers from "germophobia", shortly after a friend tells him about his lack of personal hygiene habits.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bacillophobia – Fear of microbes". Retrieved 2014-09-03. [unreliable source?]
  2. ^ μύσος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  3. ^ φόβος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus

External links[edit]