Haphephobia (also known as aphephobia, haphophobia, hapnophobia, haptephobia, haptophobia, thixophobia, aphenphosmphobia) is a rare specific phobia that involves the fear of touching or of being touched. This is often associated with a fear of sexual assault. Michell Dorais reports that many who have been the victims of sexual abuse have a fear of being touched, quoting one victim who describes being touched as something that "burns like fire", causing him to freeze up or lash out.
Signs and symptoms
As with other phobias and anxiety conditions, haphephobia may come with anxiety and stress-related symptoms that vary among those that suffer from it. A non-exhaustive list of potential symptoms that those suffering from haphephobia may have includes:
- Chest pain
- Choking sensation
- Cold or hot flushes
- Cholinergic urticaria
- Fear of dying
- Fear of loss of control
- Feeling of being trapped
- Heart palpitations
- Sense of impending danger
- Tingling sensations
- In the 1987 teen film Three O'Clock High, the main antagonist Buddy Revell physically assaults anyone who physically touches him.
- In the 1989 manga Berserk, the main character Guts suffers from haphephobia as a result of being raped as a child.
- In the 2007 film Lars and the Real Girl, the main character Lars Lindstrom describes being touched by others as a burning sensation, and refuses to allow this for most of the film.
- In the 2007 manga Freezing, the main heroine has this phobia due to her traumatic background. This is a very notable case of it.
- In the 2012 Nintendo tactical RPG Fire Emblem Awakening, the character Libra suffers from haphephobia as a result of his abusive and neglectful parents.
- In the 2013 novel The Foxhole Court, one of the main characters, Andrew Minyard, suffers from haphephobia due to his abusive childhood spent in foster care. Throughout the trilogy, his condition and his mentality regarding it are explored.
- In the 2015 film Our Brand Is Crisis, the protagonist, played by Sandra Bullock, suffers from the condition.
- In the 2015 novel Six of Crows, protagonist Kaz Brekker suffers from this condition, causing him to wear gloves and take other measures in order to avoid skin contact. His struggles with haphephobia and attempts to overcome it are explored as a subplot throughout the duology.
- In the Jack Reacher novel Night School it is revealed his former Sergeant Neagley has haphephobia.
- In the 2019 game Death Stranding, the main character Sam Porter suffers from haphephobia (which is referred to in-game as aphenphosmphobia) and his condition is shown throughout the game.
- In season 17, episode 8 of Grey's Anatomy, "It's All Too Much", a patient with haphephobia is treated by two of the show's characters, Maggie and Winston.
- Charles Harrington Elster (1996). There's a Word for It!. Scribner. p. 160. ISBN 0684824558.
- Laurence Urdang; Anne Ryle; Tanya H. Lee (1986). -ologies & -isms. Gale Research Co. pp. 557. ISBN 0810311968.
- Michel Dorais (2002). Don't Tell: The Sexual Abuse of Boys. McGill-Queen's Press — MQUP. p. 84. ISBN 0773522611.
- "Symptoms". Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA.
- Our brand is crisis scripts.com
- Child, Lee (7 November 2016). Night School: A Jack Reacher Novel. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-8041-7881-5.
- What is aphenphosmphobia in Death Stranding? gamesradar.com, Leon Hurley, 18 december 2019
- Death Stranding – what is Aphenphosmphobia and how does it affect Sam?