What is Emetophobia?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Emetophobia is an uncontrollable and irrational fear of regurgitation. This general phobia takes encompasses a number of fears associated with vomiting, such as an intense aversion to watching another person regurgitate or the fear of developing a strong sensation of nausea and vomiting as a result. If left untreated, this phobia can cause people to avoid social situations, certain types of foods, and possibly interfere with the decision to become a parent.

Emetophobia is the fear of vomiting or seeing others vomit.
Emetophobia is the fear of vomiting or seeing others vomit.

A strong sense of not being in control is often cited as one of the main causes for emetophobia. People with a particularly strong drive to be in control of every facet of their lives may view the act of regurgitation as something they have no power over. As a result, they build up an intense fear of vomiting, since that is seen as a total loss of control.

Fear appears to be the most powerful of all emetophobia symptoms. This fear of losing control is coupled with a fear of not being able to regain control of the situation and thus bring the regurgitation to an end. At the same time, the patient may see the inability to control the vomiting reflex as opening the door to no longer being able to control other issues. Thus the fear extends to failing to effectively manage issues such as emotions, competency in the workplace, and other areas where the individual perceives that he or she normally has a great deal of control.

In order to overcome emetophobia, it is often necessary to identify the origins of the phobia and find a way to eliminate their influence. For example, one common root cause for the condition is experiencing a great deal of vomiting as a child. This root cause may be defused by exploring contributing factors, such as a physical ailment that was diagnosed and treated many years ago. Once the act of regurgitation is connected with a health condition that no longer exists, the fear of experiencing another bout with vomiting begins to subside.

Overcoming emetophobia may also involve revisiting unpleasant memories associated with loved ones. The root of the phobia may rest in the pain and suffering experienced by a parent of loved one, such as a mother or sister who regurgitated regularly and seemingly uncontrollably during a pregnancy. If left unexplored and therefore untreated, this leaves the door open for the phobia to interfere with the ability and desire to engage in physical intimacy that could result in a pregnancy.

Fortunately, emetophobia therapy under the guidance of a qualified psychologist can eventually lead to a full emetophobia cure. A typical emetophobia treatment regimen involves many of the more common approaches to dealing with any type of phobia, such as counseling and medication. However, there are also other tools that may be used during the course of treatment. Hypnosis has proven helpful for some patients, while strategies such as CBT or Cognitive Behavior Therapy are effective for many sufferers. A method known as exposure treatment may also prove useful, in that exposing patients to filmed sessions of people regurgitating and then feeling better afterward may also help to minimize the fear associated with vomiting.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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