To most people, the fear of feet phobia might sound weird or bizarre. However, Podophobia does exist and is quite a common specific phobia affecting many people across the globe. The word Podophobia originates from Greek ‘Podos’ meaning feet.
People with Podophobia tend to get upset at the sight of feet. Different people experience Podophobia differently: some do not like it when others look at their feet or touch them. Still others are anxious or afraid of their own feet. Many do not like to hear, read/talk about or even see their own feet. The phobia can be detrimental to the sufferer’s health and well being, as, often, s/he refuses to remove shoes or socks preferring to keep them on even while sleeping. This can lead to fungal infections, allergies and other medical conditions.
Let us study the symptoms, causes and treatment for fear of feet phobia in detail.
Causes or origin of fear of feet phobia
Nobody knows for sure why the fear of feet occurs.
- Some experts believe that a traumatic or negative experience in the past, which had something to do with feet, might have triggered this phobia. A child might remember being kicked over and over by an elder or sibling and hence come to hate or dislike feet intensely. In such cases, the Podophobe tends to get irritated, anxious or extremely frightened at the sight of other people’s bare feet.
- Some doctors believe that the fear might have been inherited or have genetic causes. Sometimes, it might simply exist without any explicable reasons.
- Painful foot conditions like bunions, hammertoe etc can also lead to fearing pain of the feet. In some cases, these conditions can be linked to Podophobia.
- Generally speaking, people who tend to be high strung, overly anxious or are having some kind of adrenal deficiency might also acquire Podophobia.
As is the case with other phobias, Podophobia can also be persistent. The sufferer might experience many physical or psychological symptoms despite knowing that feet are not harmful or dangerous. Yet, s/he is absolutely powerless to overcome the symptoms:
- Shortness of breath or accelerated heartbeat and palpitations at the sight of or thought about feet
- Extreme fear or anxiety that leads to constant movie-like images about feet in the phobic’s mind
- Sweating, shaking or trembling
- Gastrointestinal distress, nausea
- Dizziness and fainting spells
- Constantly covering one’s feet or asking other people to cover theirs
- Refusing to discuss feet or even topics related to them, like shoes or socks
In some cases, the Podophobia can get so bad that the phobic associates death or dying with feet. This can naturally be counterproductive to progress and impact one’s day-to-day life severely. The phobic might withdraw from social interactions as his friendships and relationships may get affected by this phobia.
Overcoming and treating Podophobia
In case of any phobia that is affecting one’s day-to-day life, it is essential to seek medical help.
- Most therapists recommend gradual desensitization to overcome the fear of feet. This involves slowly exposing oneself to pictures or images of feet. This can be then followed by touching feet or having other people touch theirs.
- People who fear their own feet are also encouraged to obtain regular pedicures. This can help them rationalize their fear about feet.
- Hypnotherapy can help get inside the sufferer’s mind and find out the roots of the phobia. This can help one become more comfortable around feet by facing their fear.
- Medication and meditation are also prescribed as part of the therapy, to help reduce anxiety resulting from Podophobia.