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 2012 Nintendo tactical rpg Fire Emblem Awakening, the character Libra suffers from Haphephobia as a result of his abusive and neglectful parents.
- 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.
- 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.
- What is aphenphosmphobia in Death Stranding? gamesradar.com, Leon Hurley, 18 december 2019