You can develop an intense fear of almost anything, and that includes women. It is no news that some people are afraid of beautiful women, but being afraid of women, in general, is quite a complicated thing because it is almost impossible to go a day without setting eyes on a woman.
What is Gynophobia or the fear of women?
Gynophobia is derived from the Greek words “gyne” and “Phobos” which means “women” and “fear” respectively.
Gynophobia, also known as gynephobia, is the irrational and extreme fear of women, who most times are not dangerous but somehow the thought and sight of them even when they do not appear harmful still trigger anxiety and avoidance behaviours.
Like other certain phobias, Gynophobia may be chronic and can, to a great extent, negatively affect your ability to still sustain your career, education, social life, and your normal day to day activities.
Historians believe that the term originates to originally give definition to the fear men feel of getting humiliated by women. This is currently known as “emasculation”. Emasculation means to make a man feel like he has lost his masculinity like he is not “manly” enough.
But Gynophobia is a condition that both men and women can suffer from.
Gynophobia manifests unpleasant symptoms that may be mild, moderate, or severe according to the level at which the condition is in.
The symptoms may include:
- Immediate and overwhelming fear and anxiety when the thought of women crosses your mind when you see women or sense anything that could trigger the imagination of women including listening to an audio recording of a woman’s voice.
- In most cases, if not all, there is a realization that your fear of women as irrational and extreme but the fear can not control.
- Anxiety and its physical effects such as increased heart rate, hastened breathing, sweating, etc. gets more intense when a woman tries getting physically close to you
- Consciously avoiding women, places or events where you are likely to see women or
- exaggerated feelings of anxiety in situations or places where you see women
- Difficulty in carrying out your normal day to day activities because of your irrational fear towards women
- Physical reflection of your anxiety such as Sharp chest pain, sweating, heart palpitations, and/or difficulty breathing at the thought or sense of women
- Stomach upset, lightheadedness, or feelings of faintness when you are close to a woman or when the thoughts about women cross your mind.
- In children, this disorder may come as conniption and crying while clinging to a male caregiver or father and refusing to be with a female caregiver or mother.
These symptoms vary across persons according to the level of fear experienced by the individual.
Phobic symptoms typically include the feeling of the following;
- Exaggerated fear
- Extreme anxiety
Panic attack and its physical manifestations include; difficulty in breathing, rapid heart rate, sweating, nausea, dry mouth, inability to make words or sentences that make complete sense, confusion, dry mouth, and shivering.
Causes of Gynophobia
What are the possible causes of Gynophobia? If you have read about various phobias, you will know that one trait that is common is no specific generalisable cause. Scientists are not certain about what actually are the causes of Gynophobia.
Still, they believe that some certain factors contribute to the development of this condition, and they include:
Unpleasant past experiences with women such as rape, sexual and physical assaults, mental or physical abuse, neglect, etc. can cause trauma. Also, reading, being told or witnessing negative attitudes and behaviours exhibited by a woman can have severe effects on people, making them gynophobic.
The genetic make-up of an individual can contribute to the development of many disorders. If an individual has parents with this disorder, they are most likely to pass it on to their offsprings.
Environment and upbringing
When a child grows up in an environment that uses fear as a tool to shape his or her life, it gets to an extent when it develops into a phobia.
An environment that portrays women as evil or an environment with many women acting badly may instil fear in a child, and this may develop into Gynophobia.
Again, the upbringing a child gets from his or her parents or the society at large may shape, bend, and even break the child. An upbringing that is paranoiac towards women may promote the fear of women and then develop into Gynophobia.
Presence of other phobias
There is a connection between Gynophobia and other phobias or anxiety disorders because of fear of other objects and situations which may promote the fear of women, thereby resulting in Gynophobia.
However, children often about ten years are more prone to have this condition. This is because, during childhood, children fear a lot of things, even though they tend to outgrow their fears, certain fears stick around and become a chronic phobia.
For example; a child that is afraid of being abused may not outgrow abuse gotten from a particular woman, the child may become afraid of the woman and may subsequently have developed Gynophobia.
The personality of an individual contributes to the formation of disorders. Persons with the temperament that is averagely more bottled up, bad and sensitive than the average person is likely to be a sufferer of this condition.
According to experts, Phobias have no known cause, but there are factors that lead to the development of this disorder, and these factors may include the combination of extrinsic factors such as past traumatic experiences and intrinsic factors such as hereditary and personality.
Usually, trauma at a young age is the most common factor contributing to the development of this disorder. Several phobias can be traced to their specific cause.
Experts believe that the combination of heredity and brain chemistry with life experiences can contribute immensely to the development of phobias.
When you should see a health professional
This condition may seem like nothing serious other than a weird personality.
But then, Gynophobia can potentially become a massive challenge to you in life. You are advised to see your doctor if this condition is causing you extreme anxiety that:
- Impairs your performance at work or school
- Heavily affects your social relationships or your ability to socialize negatively.
- Negatively affects your ability to execute your normal day to day activities.
Your doctor may see your need for specialized treatment and refer you to a mental health professional.
Particularly in children, if Gynophobia is suspected, then it should be dealt with quickly with the help of professionals. Although, children usually outgrow their fears, in some cases, certain fears stick around and become chronic phobias.
Considering the fact that this condition can heavily affect a child’s ability to function and serve well in society when they come of age to take up certain responsibilities. Therefore, it is important to have their fears addressed as soon as possible, using professional help.
While seeking medical help if you suspect you might have Gynophobia, your doctor can have you screened for Gynophobia.
Your doctor will talk with you concerning your symptoms, ask for your medical records in order to obtain physical, psychiatric, and social histories, have you physically examined you to cancel out any physical issues that might be the reason behind your anxiety.
After the assessment, If your doctor thinks you have this condition or any other anxiety disorder, they will have you referred to a mental health professional for professional help and treatment.
Gynophobia is a serious condition that can affect the normal day to day activities of an individual and should be treated once diagnosed, and this involves the help of mental health professionals in order to be cured.
These treatments are gradual and are effective if applied correctly. They include:
With the help of a mental health professional, exposure therapy is very effective. This can successfully change your perception about women as well as your response when you come in contact with them.
This works by the gradual and persistent exposure of the object of fear, in this case, maybe a picture, audio, video, drawing, or sculpture of a woman until you are eventually exposed to a living woman, under professional supervision, and in a controlled environment.
This gradual exposure of women or objects that depicts women may make the individual feel less threatened by each exposure until the perception of women being irrationally feared becomes eliminated.
The gradual increase of exposures may help you develop better-coping skills to handle the feelings and thoughts linked to the irrational fear of women.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) puts in the combination of other therapeutic methods with exposure therapy to influence and change your perception about women and to help you obtain better-coping skills to handle the irrational fear towards women.
Aspects of cognitive-behavioural therapy that will help you learn how to handle this condition include:
- Your perception of phobia in a different way
- Coping skills to help you handle the physical feelings linked to your phobia
- Emotional coping skills to deal with the effects your phobia has had in your normal day to day life.
- Each CBT sessions should have you feeling more confident and sure like you have acquired some kind of strong will and have become the master of your own thoughts and feelings rather than being subdued and overcame by them
Normally, psychotherapy alone is very effective in the treatment of Gynophobia and can help boost the recovery of a sufferer. But then, medications are also prescribed to help control anxiety or panic attacks linked to Gynophobia.
Mediations like this should only be administered at the beginning of the treatment plan in order to help quicken your recovery. Again, these medications can be used occasionally in the short run.
For instance, if you find yourself in situations where your irrational fear of women stops you from doing something necessary.
For example; you might find yourself making excuses to avoid getting important medical diagnoses, procedures, or treatments from any female medical healthcare provider because of your overwhelming fear of women.
Medications used in treating Gynophobia include:
Beta-blockers are substances that control the adrenal glands as well as the effects of adrenaline in the body system.
The adrenaline is a chemical secreted by the adrenal glands normally when the body detects any form of anxiety. Most individuals, no matter how hard they try, they can never control the effects of this chemical.
This can cause discomfort, nervousness, and some other physical issues which can be harmful such as a rapid heart rate and an increase in blood pressure, plus a shaky voice and lack of muscle coordination control.
Sedatives such as Benzodiazepines may be prescribed to help calm your nerves by reducing anxiety. Sadly, These medications are extremely addictive and should be used only short-term with precaution.
If there is a history of past alcohol and/or substance abuse and dependence, you are advised to avoid the consumption of benzodiazepines or any other sedatives.
Medications can be prescribed, but it is important to note that there are side effects accompanying the use of these medications and they are chances of the user to get addicted or dependent which could trigger withdrawal symptoms that can be severe.
Again, you are to note that medications do not cure phobias, but they are only used temporarily for the management and control of anxiety and other unpleasant symptoms.
But then, treatments for phobias, such as; talk therapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, hypnotherapy, and psychotherapy are available to help and hasten your recovery from Gynophobia and other phobias.
Outlook Of Gynophobia
Gynophobia is a serious condition that can have a massive negative impact on the quality of your life.
Gynophobia if left untreated can cause life-threatening complications which include: substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and tendencies, social isolation, and severe mood disorders.
It is very important that you seek help when you need it. It is more important that you get help to avoid influencing your children (if you have any) and/or other children around you because they may develop the condition too by the kind of influence and environment your paranoia creates for them.
Adequate treatments may help in the reduction of anxiety and may help you enjoy and even improve your quality of life.
To recover fully, you must be persistent and serious about your treatment. All this with a ray of hope will surely improve your coping skills and give your life back to you.
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