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Saturday, August 15, 2020

Scoleciphobia: an Irrational Fear of Worms

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Scoleciphobia is a kind of phobia. Other names like Vermiphobia and Helminthophobia are some of the closely rlated phobias of Scoleciphobia.

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It’s an irrational fear of worms. The word Scoleciphobia was derived from the Greek word “Scoleci” which means parasitic worms, and “Phobos” meaning dread, fear or aversion.

Scoleciphobia is one of the widespread phobias, that affects both old and young. Children tend to scream or cry at the sight of worms; adults are also not spared from this phobia. It is estimated that about hundreds of thousands of people have Scoleciphobia.

People who suffer from Scoleciphobiam, usually avoid coming outside during rainy days, as worms wriggle out of their holes during the period. Scoleciphobia can also be closely associated with the fear of diseases or germs.

Causes of Scoleciphobia

Like was stated above, Scoleciphobia is the irrational fear of worms. And this fear can be linked to an unhygienic environment or condition. It is a general notion among those who have Scoleciphobia, that the presence of worm means a poor state of hygiene.

The fact that the ecosystem can’t rid itself of worms and that these worms themselves make up an important part of the ecosystem. They happen to be an essential component of many food chains. As important as they might be, they also eat away our food or produce.

Imagine finding a worm or worse, half a worm in an apple that you were eating, this is already a nightmare for al. Someone who is suffering from Scoleciphobia, could develop a panic attack from such experience.

It is common for children to be afflicted by intestinal worms like ringworm or tapeworm; this could is found in many developing and underdeveloped countries. Usually, the child is administered with drugs that push this worms out, and they might be seen wriggling in their faeces. This site is enough to cause a life long fear for worms “Scoleciphobia.”

Worms are usually seen as unpleasant or unwanted things. Hence the adage “Opening a can of worms” which means to complicate matters.

Countless TV shows depict what worms can do to the human body, “Monster Inside Me” and “Medical Mystery” is an example of such shows. The scenes from these programs can lead to viewers developing Scoleciphobia.

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Evolution can have an effect on the way people perceive worms too. The fear of reptiles (poisonous snakes) has always been constant in Man. This worms has a close resemblance to what snakes look like, so their tiny version which looks like a snake can evoke fear, owing to their ability to spread disease and poison.

While doing biology in school, students are usually asked to dissect worms in order to study their various parts. This is generally perceived as disgusting to many who are anxious minded.

A child who was bullied by his brothers or sisters, or pranked with a worm, could develop Scoleciphobia, and have a life long aversion for worms.

Symptoms of Scoleciphobia

Scoleciphobia Fear of Worms

Phobias generally have common symptoms; Scoleciphobia is definitely not an exemption. Below is a list of some signs of Scoleciphobia. Some of these symptoms might be found in other phobias too.

Feeling of nausea, crying, screaming, elevated heart rate, trembling, sweating, among other feeling are some of the symptoms. The person might experience numbness or inability to express themselves clearly.

Someone who is suffering from Scoleciphobia, might belief that worms are crawling over their body, so they might result in endlessly scratching their body, of washing several times a day.
Some even fear that they would find worms in their faeces, this might lead them to hold in faeces for days, which would be harmful to them.

Someone who has Scoleciphobia would avoid using public toilets or even using a shovel to dig up soil from the ground.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is another symptom found in people who have Scoleciphobia. Usually, they wash up several times a day. They even take extra precautions and clan their environment, or shut doors and windows to ensure that worms don’t crawl in their homes.

Weather is one of the factors that lead to the appearance of worms. So people who have Scoleciphobia could leave his environment, and move to an environment, where the weather is not favourable to worms.

This irrational fear usually makes people laugh at them, or get bullied with that which they fear.

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Treatment for Scoleciphobia

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is a pervasive way of treating various forms of phobia. Exposure therapy works well for most patients suffering from phobias, including Scoleciphobia.

Its procedure is quite adequate, as people who have Scoleciphobia, are gradually faced with worms. Before they are exposed to worms, the specialist will prepare their minds for what is to come.

The next phase might include the patient having to be in a room with a worm that’s in a jar. This routine is a necessity, as the phobic get the chance to encounter s/he greatest fears.

If the phobic develops the confidence to be in the same room with the worm, he might be asked to try and lift the jar or worm. This is all a routine to help Scoleciphobia patient get past their fears.

In the course of treatment of Scoleciphobia, the doctor might show pictures of various worm in different from and conditions; after some time, he might also have to introduce said patients to a video of types of worms, wriggling around.

This method is proposed to help disordered patients or Scoleciphobia patient get over their fear for worms, as the more they get exposed to what they are afraid of, the less scared they would be.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT

Like exposure therapy, CBT is a conventional treatment for various disorders which includes Scoleciphobia, which most times works for generalized anxiety disorder (GED) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Aside from these disorders, CBT is also said to be an excellent treatment for Scoleciphobia.

CBT generally, is a way for the therapist, to help the patient uncover the reason why he or she feels and act the way they do regarding worms.

If they could understand why they are so irrational about worms, or the origin of their fear; then they might be able to find a pragmatic approach when faced with a worm.

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.

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