Coming from the Greek word 'podos', which means feet, the word podophobia means the fear of feet. For some, developing this kind of fear seems bizarre and unheard of, but it is a common phobia that affects a large number of people from all over the world.
So what is podophobia and how can it be helped? The common trait of people developing this kind of fear is that they become upset even at the slightest sight of a foot. However, people have different experiences when it comes of dealing with podophobia.
Possible causes why a person develops podophobia
● There’s no scientific evidence that can directly explain why a person develops a fear of feet, but there are some cases exploring why people develop podophobia over time.
● Some experts explain that a negative or traumatic experience in the past might have triggered a phobia within the person. For example, they might remember being physically abused and kicked by a caregiver during their childhood days, which is why they dread the sight of a foot immensely.
● Some argue that the culprit behind podophobia might be genetics, especially in exceptional cases where the fear is there for unexplainable reasons.
● Feet conditions like bunions or claw toes that are painful can also trigger this kind of reaction.
● Overly anxious individuals suffering from adrenal deficiencies can also develop this kind of fear in the long run.
Diagnosis is vital to be able to know if a person is suffering from this kind of condition. Why? Because it can be detrimental to one's health in the long run. Just like any other fear, symptoms can be apparent, up to the point that a person can develop physical and psychological symptoms that can potentially harm their overall well-being. In response to exposure to feet, suffers of podophobia may exhibit the following:
● Fainting spells
● Gastrointestinal disease
● Trembling, shaking, profuse sweating
● Covering own feet, even requesting other people to cover theirs as well
● Shortness of breath and palpitations
● Becoming anxious and refusing to interact when discussing topics relating to feet, even when talking about shoes or socks
● Overall extreme fear and anxiety with movie-like images flashing in one's mind
In extreme cases, the phobia can be so severe that that sufferer can associate dying with feet and this can significantly affect their social interactions and relationships with other people.
How to make a person with podophobia comfortable
We know that podophobia can affect a person's social interactions and relationships because most suffers simply choose to isolate themselves. On the other hand, there are some practical ways to make a person suffering from this fear comfortable.
● Do not remove your shoes and socks around the person.
● If you don't want to put them in a high-anxiety and sometimes violent state, never wave your feet in front of their faces.
● If you want to sit close to them, it's better to move your legs away and cover your feet entirely.
● Never try clipping the nails of your feet when you're in the same room with them.
● Try to stay away from discussing topics like feet.
We all have fears within us. It is best to try to be considerate, and understand that the person is going through a tough time when it comes to dealing with their fear.
Since podophobia can disrupt day-to-day routines of the person and can potentially harm their well being and relationships, it is critical at this point for sufferers to seek treatment.
● Therapists will generally recommend at some point the desensitization technique by gradually exposing the person to their greatest fears. It can be done by looking through pictures, letting people touch their feet and vice versa. By facing their fears head on, they'll gradually develop this exposure and over time become desensitized to it.
● Sometimes, sufferers are encouraged to have regular pedicures as well to help them rationalize their fears and put them into perspective.
● To help one be comfortable in facing what they dread the most, some employ hypnotherapy. The process involves getting into one's mind and examining the root of the person's fear. It employs specific techniques that could rewire a person's brain.
● Medications such as anti-anxiety drugs may be prescribed to help reduce overall anxiety of the person.
● Meditation allows one to recognize and acknowledge certain feelings and thoughts. However, the body isn't compelled to produce an emotional reaction to it since it quiets the mind and forces you not to overthink. Meditation is focusing more and living in the present moment, rather than in the past. Phobias, fears, and anxiety can potentially stem from a distant traumatic past and meditation can help sufferers overcome these negative feelings.
Podophobia is a condition wherein a person develops a fear of feet. Although mostly unheard of by other people, there are several factors may cause a person to create this kind of phobia. If left untreated, it can immensely disrupt a person's quality of life and even damage their social interactions and relationships. That's why seeking treatment to overcome these fears is critical. With the right amount of patience, positive thinking and endurance, a person can overcome this fear.
If you or your loved one's goal is to aim for a healthier and more productive life, you can ask the help of a professional such as those at Psychologists Southern Sydney to help you with counseling and coaching sessions to overcome issues that are directly affecting your overall mental and emotional well-being. With an excellent treatment approach, a person can overcome this kind of phobia the right way.
The post was written by Janice Killey.