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Other namesHaphophobia

Haphephobia[1] (also known as aphephobia,[1] haphophobia,[2] hapnophobia, haptephobia,[1] haptophobia,[1][2] thixophobia,[1] 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.[3]

Signs and symptoms[edit]

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:[4]

  • Chest pain
  • Choking sensation
  • Cold or hot flushes
  • Cholinergic urticaria
  • Dissociation
  • Dizziness
  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of loss of control
  • Feeling of being trapped
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hyperventilation
  • Nausea
  • Sense of impending danger
  • Sweating
  • Tingling sensations
  • Trembling

Popular culture[edit]

  • 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.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Charles Harrington Elster (1996). There's a Word for It!. Scribner. p. 160. ISBN 0684824558.
  2. ^ a b Laurence Urdang; Anne Ryle; Tanya H. Lee (1986). -ologies & -isms. Gale Research Co. pp. 557. ISBN 0810311968.
  3. ^ Michel Dorais (2002). Don't Tell: The Sexual Abuse of Boys. McGill-Queen's Press — MQUP. p. 84. ISBN 0773522611.
  4. ^ "Symptoms". Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA.
  5. ^ What is aphenphosmphobia in Death Stranding? gamesradar.com, Leon Hurley, 18 december 2019