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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Adrienne Patterson: What's Your Phobia? ...

Happy (Belated) Halloween!   This month has been about all things scary leading up to Halloween so I guess that is where my brain has been as I was considering what to write about this week.  The result? Me sharing a big fear of mine, an actual phobia in fact called Emetophobia.  My husband has said my fear isn’t a phobia at all just my insanity but I have news for him, according to Wikipedia it’s real. 

Emetophobia-“an intense, irrational fear or anxiety pertaining to vomitingincluding a fear of vomiting in public, a fear of seeing vomit, a fear of watching the action of vomiting or fear of being nauseated.”

Yep, I am beyond terrified of throwing up!  My phobia pretty much falls in line with the definition though I have made great strides in being able to see it, help my kids through it but I am paralyzed with fear at the thought of catching it, vomiting myself or being nauseated.  I am sure no one wants to do any of these things as they are pretty unpleasant but I am far beyond viewing them as unpleasant.  I will not be near someone who has been sick until an adequate amount of time has passed (minimum of 3 days and if we must be in contact prior to that we must be outdoors or in a large open area, no close quarters please).  If I hear of a virus going around I immediately begin having near panic attacks wondering if I will be the next victim.  In the terrifying event that I myself feel the least bit nauseated I immediately reach for my Xanax and my Zofran (anti nausea med) both of which I keep on my person at all times!  I will shake and cry and do illogical things (i.e stand outside, even if it’s freezing, because for some reason I feel the further I am from a toilet the less likely I am to throw up).  Truly, it is irrational and insane and yet when the moment seizes me I am thoroughly paralyzed by the fear!  Here is some more of what Wikipedia has to say…

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine,  refers to cases from the 1980s that reference how a number of children who are affected by emetophobia are mentally disabled (Scott truly has questioned my mental stability, yikes!)….people suffering from emetophobia are more likely to have an internal locus of control .  Having an internal locus of control means that an individual perceives that they have their own control over a situation…this phobia is created through the locus of control by stating, “Thus far, it seems reasonable to stipulate that individuals with a vomiting phobia deem events as being within their control and may therefore find it difficult to relinquish this control during the act of vomiting, thus inducing a phobia.” (I may have been referred to as Type A once or twice)… findings also showed that those afflicted with emetophobia often have difficulties comfortably leading a normal life.  Many find that they have problems being alone with young children (I do have a problem being alone with young children however it is usually limited to my own young children and more about their fighting, whining and complaining), and they may also avoid social gatherings where alcohol is present (while my phobia most certainly kept me from drinking very much in college it unfortunately did not keep me from going and seeing some pretty nasty puking, eww).  Women afflicted with emetophobia said that they either delayed pregnancy or avoided pregnancy altogether because of the morning sickness associated with the first trimester (obviously I didn’t avoid pregnancy but was seriously terrified of morning sickness.  I ate round the clock, drank Gingerale…anything suggested to prevent morning sickness and I was on it!) They frequently check the freshness of the food along with washing it several times in order to prevent any potential sicknesses that they could contract from foods not handled properly. (Hmm, well I do admit to buying meat at Wal Mart so I must have missed this part) and eating out is also avoided (Ha hahahahahahahaha…yea right, not me again) Notable people with emetophobia: Denise Richards, Cameron Diaz, Matt Lauer, Howie Mandel (See really cool people have my same disorder…ok, Howie Mandel is weird but everyone else is cool)
Exposure methods, where patients are exposed to film of people vomiting, are also used in the psychological treatment. They can have a positive effect on the phobia of the patient involved, and can often aid in helping them overcome the fear, although people with emetophobia who were asked whether they would try an exposure treatment were reluctant (Um, you think?  Duh, the whole problem is NOT wanting to be exposed to it. Plus I can attest that as a mom I have been exposed more times than I want to remember to vomiting and it hasn’t helped in the least).”

So there you have it, I am an emetophobic and I am speaking out on behalf of all the emetophobics out there!  I can’t be the only one with such a crazy fear…what’s yours?


  1. I have an irrational fear of being stopped on bridges or overpasses! I'm petrified that they will just collapse and I'll fall with it. I hate getting stuck in traffic while on a bride or overpass. Have you ever noticed that when you are stopped on one, and a large truck or something drives in the opposite direction, that the whole structure moves!?!?! It's at that point that I feel like I'm going to just fall to my death or fall and cause someone elses death underneath me!
    I am not so sure there is a "Phobia" analysis for that one! I may have to google it!

  2. You make me feel so normal! I am an emetophobic as well! As I just checked on facebook and read the title of this post, I just HAD to read it and as I read on, I almost died!! I have always had issues with it and I am like you... I have researched it as well and it describes me to the t. So I have to ask, how do you deal with it with 3 kids? I have become really bad since having my 2 kids. Have you caught it from them? People don't understand our crazy fear and how we can become so irrational about it! I even joined a support group on FB -- now that is SAD!! (can't believe I even admitted that). Too funny! I just had to post. I know both of your sisters from PHS and was in the same sorority as Beth. Love reading everyones posts on Momsie. Beth does a really good job.

  3. Katy I am glad I could make you feel better and not ashamed, LOL!! I have actually not gotten it from my kids nor have I vomited since the 5th grade!!! I honestly think sometimes that my fear is so strong that I simply "will" it away! Then again it could be that God just answers my desperate prayer to spare me from it :) I have gotten much better now that I have been through it so much with my kids (nice that I have the most pukey kids, LOL) and never gotten it. However that still doesn't keep me from freaking out! My freaking out is a little better though but still definitely there. Thanks for commenting, glad to know I am not the only one :)

  4. Thanks for the response! Yes, with kids it is bound to happen and I am thinking/hoping that once the dreaded bug hits our household, then my freakiness will subside a bit. It is that initial time that I am dreading!! It is hard being a freak about this!


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