What is Gynophobia or Fear of Women?
Gynophobia refers to medical condition where an individual develops an irrational fear for women. This condition usually affects men. It is also known by some other terms such as Feminophobia or Gynephobia. Individuals with gynophobia or fear of women even develops hatred or fear against their own mother, sisters or other female family members. The gynophobia or fear of women restricts them from engaging into any type of relationship with women.
Causes of Gynophobia or Fear of Women
Psychiatrists suggest that the common cause of gynophobia or fear of women lies into unresolved conflicts with mother involving physical abuse and abandonment. Some cases of childhood gynophobia or fear of women may resolve with time, but others may persists life-long.
Another common cause for gynophobia or fear of women is any incident of sexual abuse on the verge of puberty, resulting into a lifelong fear and hatred against women.
It can also cause in case of adult males as a result of an event where he is severely insulted by a woman. The incident may leave a deep impact out of humiliation and rejection resulting into hatred against women. Stories related to witches, Amazonian women and other haunting women may also cause gynophobia or fear of women.
Gynophobia or fear of women may also be caused due to some psychological disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression etc.
Signs and Symptoms of Gynophobia or Fear of Women
Signs and symptoms of gynophobia or fear of women varies according to the root cause.
- Gynophobia or fear of women may trigger homosexuality in some individuals. It does not mean that all gay men are gynophobic. Some gynophobic may even not be afraid of having relationship with women to a point where sexual encounter is not involved.
- Some gynophobics do not enjoy any type of relationship with women.
- Some gynophobics may develop a feeling of disdain against women assuming that they are cheaters, liars, stupid and filthy.
- Severe gynophobia or fear of women symptoms include panic attack on the sight of a women, sweating, rapid heart rate, dry mouth, difficulty in breathing, etc... even at the thought of facing a woman.
- Some men tend to fear having a sexual intercourse with a woman as they are unable get erection.
Mental signs and symptoms of gynophobia or fear of women include:
- Obsessive thoughts.
- Constant fear in mind.
- Haunting thoughts and images related to female.
- Feeling lonely and unreal.
- Unable to control your mind.
Emotional signs and symptoms of gynophobia or fear of women are:
- Anticipatory Anxiety: Developing a fear of encountering a woman in a future event.
- Terror: Extreme fear of facing a women.
- Desire to Flee: A tendency to run away from the situation.
Physical signs and symptoms of gynophobia or fear of women are:
- Pain in chest.
- Nausea or stomach distress.
- Hot or cold flashes.
- Trembling or shaking.
- Feeling of fainting or dizziness.
- Unable to stand still.
- Numbness or tingling sensations.
- Difficulty in breathing.
- Increase in the heart beat rate with palpitations and pounding heart.
- Feeling of choking.
Risk Factors for Gynophobia or Fear of Women
Following as some of the factors that may increase the risk of gynophobia or fear of women:
- Children below 13 years old are more prone to various types of phobia including gynophobia or fear of women. Symptoms of gynophobia or fear of women usually starts to appear by the age of 10 and can continue till adulthood. Gynophobia can occur in individuals in their teens or older up to the age of 40.
- Family History. There is an increased risk of developing phobia in children where someone in the family is having specific phobia. People can learn to become gynophobic by observing close relatives.
- Temperament is a risk factor. Your attitude towards fear also governs development of gynophobia or fear of women.
- Trauma is also a risk factor for gynophobia or fear of women. An individual may develop phobia due to some traumatic event like being mentally or physically abused by a female.
Complications in Gynophobia or Fear of Women
Gynophobia or fear of women may not seem like a serious problem, but it can hamper your routine activities and make it impossible to lead a normal life. Some of the complications of gynophobia or fear of women are as follows:
- Social isolation. A person having gynophobia or fear of women tends to isolate himself from the society to avoid his fears. Thus, he is unable to enjoy the social life with freedom.
- Gynophobia or fear of women can easily lead a person to depression as a result of frustration and isolation.
- It is a common tendency of a person to start taking drugs or other harmful substances to cope up with gynophobia or fear of women.
- Intense depression and irritation may also cause thoughts of suicide.
Tests to Diagnose Gynophobia or Fear of Women
Gynophobia or fear of women is a mental problem and thus, it cannot be diagnosed using lab tests. Instead, there is asset of clinical interviews that are used to detect the possibility of gynophobia or fear of women. Clinical interviews are conducted by medical experts and physiatrist to determine your state of mind and mental status.
To standardize the process for diagnoses of gynophobia or fear of women, American Psychiatric Association has published certain guidelines. Insurance Companies are also bound to use these guidelines to make a reimbursement.
How is Gynophobia or Fear of Women Treated?
Gynophobia or fear of women can be treated in a variety of ways and you need to refer to a good doctor or medical expert to know about the various treatment options. You need to find a best treatment option that is suitable in your case. You would normally have to go through various types of physiotherapies and counseling sessions as part of treatment. In case of severe gynophobia or fear of women, therapies alone may not work and patient may also require medications to get rid of phobia. Some of the common therapies used for treatment of gynophobia or fear of women include exposure therapy, behavioral therapy, talk therapy, CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy etc. All types of therapies are meant to restore your mental state of mind to normal condition.
Exposure Therapy to Treat Gynophobia or Fear of Women
It is very important to refer to a doctor immediately in case of any signs of gynophobia or fear of women. A doctor can guide you to a suitable therapist who can help you through various types of therapies. Exposure therapy is one of the most effective therapies that works against gynophobia or fear of women.
Exposure therapy is basically a type of cognitive-behavioral therapies. In this therapy, a person is allowed to face his fears in a controlled environment and learn how to cope up with his fears. It involves following five steps:
- Evaluation. In this first step of therapy, the physiatrist tries to evaluate your extent of fear and it's possible causes.
- Feedback. After evaluating you condition, you are offered the best treatment plan that is supposed to be most effective in your case.
- Develop fear hierarchy. Your therapists tries to create a series of scenarios where you can experience gradually increasing levels of fear.
- Exposure. Once the scenario and fears have been identified, you are gradually exposed to such scenarios involving objects that make you anxious. Continuous exposure helps you to learn how to tackle the situation involving fear.
- Building. As you are exposed to increased level of fears, you develop a sort of resistance against fears.
Exposure therapy works in most of the people suffering from gynophobia or fear of women. However, it requires finding a good therapist who can execute all the steps of exposure therapies with great expertise. There are some other cognitive behavioral therapies that can be combined with exposure therapy to offer better results. The prime purpose of these therapies is to help you realize the reality of your fears and come out of your irrelevant fears.
Another Way to Treat Gynophobia or Fear of Women is Talk Therapy
Talk therapy is another therapy that can be used to get rid of gynophobia or fear of women out of your mind. This therapy simply refers to a series of counseling sessions with the experts who can bring your mind to come out of the virtual world into a realistic world. It is slow process and you need to continue the therapy for some time to notice any changes in your behavior or ability to face fears.
An important factor that determines the effectiveness of talk therapy is finding a good therapist with whom you can talk comfortably and express your fears. None of the therapies can work until and unless you are comfortable with the therapist. Thus, it becomes very important to find a good therapist.
Third Way to Treat Gynophobia or Fear of Women is Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral therapy for treating gynophobia or fear of women involves multiple sessions with a therapist who works to bring changes in your behavior by exposing you to your fears to an increasing extent with every new session. The therapist helps you learn to control your anxiety with the help of relaxation techniques.
Every new session comes with an increased level of exposure to fears. The initial sessions may involve thinking about an encounter with a woman and then actually exposing to a real situation with woman. Your therapist tries to convince your mind that your fear is unrealistic and thus, teaches you how to cope up with gynophobia or fear of women. You take these learning into the real world and are in a better situation to face your fears.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is also Highly Effective in Treating Gynophobia or Fear of Women
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is also used as an effective treatment option for getting rid of gynophobia or fear of women. The therapist tries to study the cause of phobia and works on eliminating it from your mind.
American Psychiatric Association has clearly specified the outcomes that you can expect from the treatment, provided that you have followed the treatment plan as per the standard guidelines. The outcomes that you can expect from CBT are as follows:
- A clear improvement in your behavior if you continue the to take treatment for 10 to 20 weeks.
- Significant improvement in your condition by the end of 1 year of treatment.
Hypnotherapy Can Be an Treatment Option for Gynophobia or Fear of Women
Hypnotism is technique that is used to connect to your subconscious mind. Hypnotherapy relies on hypnotism to determine the possible causes of gynophobia or fear of women deep rooted into your mind. A therapist tries to reach out to these fears and get them out of your mind.
Hypnotherapy can be combined with other techniques like visualization and relaxation to come up with better outcomes in a lesser time.
Medicines for Gynophobia or Fear of Women
There are no such prescribed medicines that can be used to treat gynophobia or fear of women. The cause of phobia is related to your mental health and thus, medicines cannot be used to cure phobia. If you are taking any medications for phobia, it is better to get them checked with your doctor.
Medications can only be used to suppress the symptoms of phobia like depression. These medicines have been classified into three categories:
- Beta blockers are used to suppress anxiety caused by gynophobia or fear of women. You feel anxious because of the release of adrenaline into our body. Beta Blockers regulates this sudden release of adrenaline and relieves from anxiety. These medications are only able to help in controlling the physical symptoms like sweating, increased heart beat etc., but not the emotional symptoms.
- Antidepressants are helpful in suppressing the feeling of depression due to gynophobia or fear of women. U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved three antidepressants including Effexor, Paxil, and Zoloft.
- Benzodiazepines are also used to treat anxiety in a very quick time. However, you need to be careful while taking benzodiazepines as they can cause sedation and addiction.
Prevention of Gynophobia or Fear of Women
It is very important to treat any signs of gynophobia or fear of women early, especially if there are any children in your family. Children learn quickly by observing the way we react to situations. Thus, there is huge risk of developing gynophobia or fear of women in children if someone in the family demonstrates such behavior. Any type of symptoms of phobia must not be ignored and reported to a medical expert immediately. The best way to prevent gynophobia or fear of women is to deal with it when it is just a fear and is in its initial phase.
Coping with Gynophobia or Fear of Women
Most cases of gynophobia or fear of women require professional treatment from experts to get rid of phobia out of your mind before they start to dominate your behavior. Following are some measure that can help you to cope up with your gynophobia or fear of women:
- Try to face gynophobia or fear of women instead of avoiding them. Seek help from your family members or friends.
- You can also join a support group where you can meet more individuals going through same difficulties of gynophobia or fear of women and exchange experiences.
- Medications for treating phobia must be taken regularly as prescribed by the doctor. Trying to skip a medicine can lead to withdrawal symptoms.
- Keep yourself physically healthy and fit for proper coping with gynophobia or fear of women.
Helping Your Child Cope with Fears
Most of us have some fears in childhood that usually goes off as we become adult. However, some individuals may carry certain fears into their adulthood and develop phobia. Thus, it is very important to talk to your kids about their fears and help get rid of them:
- It is important for every parents not to ignore or take fears of their child for granted. Instead, counsel your child and listen to what the child wants to say.
- It can be a big mistake to see your child’s fear as an opportunity to use it against him. This can reinforce phobia making it harder for him to come out of his fears. Instead, you must stand with your child against their fears. Teach him how to deal with the situation by gradually exposing to fears under your support. Demonstrate your child the right way to react in such situation.
- Children have the tendency to behave as they observe their parents and everyone else with whom they spend most of their time. Thus, it is important for the parents to act like a role model for their child so that he can have a positive attitude towards fear.
Recovery Period/Healing Time for Gynophobia or Fear of Women
Recovery period or healing time for gynophobia or fear of women cannot be defined as every individual responds differently to treatment and the severity of the phobia is also an important factor, which effects the recovery period. There are many other factors that determine the time that a person may take to come out of the fears. The recovery time is usually higher in case of individuals going through a severe fear of women. The type of treatment may also determine the recovery time as different treatments take different time. Thus, the exact recovery time cannot be predicted in case of any phobia. However, your doctor may define a tentative recovery period based on your response to treatment.