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Author Topic: Touch  (Read 221 times)

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Offline ReclusiveRamie

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« on: December 16, 2013, 04:49:17 AM »
  Hi, I'm new here and have a fear of touch.
  The fear of touching or being touched is called haphephobia, and apparently it's pretty rare. I had never even heard of it until I realized I might have it and decided to google "fear of touch". I don't even have a backstory to WHY I don't like touching people or being touched; it's just how I am. I've never been comfortable with hugging or any kind of contact. I've always tensed up and become anxious even if it was close friends or family members touching me. I'll even flinch away sometimes, which people tend to take personally. But I never really thought of it as that much of a problem until less than a year ago when there was an incident in the middle of class that set me off.
  All that happened was a new friend of mine came up from behind and surprise-hugged me. It sounds so silly that this would make me freak out, but it did. The whole thing really caught me off guard and really scared me. I don't have a very clear memory of the aftermath, but I do remember quickly distancing myself and noticing my heart rate and breathing quickening, my body trembling badly, my face flushing, and the nausea. If I hadn't frozen like I had, I probably would have run out of the room like I wanted. I couldn't even speak for a while after it happened. It still sounds so ridiculous to me, that a hug could cause such panic.
  Now it's gotten worse since I'm afraid I'll lose control like that again and that it'll be worse next time. I was lucky that we were doing a group activity and that only three friends saw what happened, one only seeing the aftermath. Despite that, I almost skipped school the next day because I still hadn't gotten over what happened. I couldn't help but think what would happen if I freaked out in the middle of a normal class day or the halls just because somebody unexpectedly touched my shoulder or something else equally harmless. My personal bubble pretty much quadrupled for weeks after that incident, and it never really returned to normal.
  So now I tense up if I just feel like somebody is too close to me. There doesn't even have to be physical contact, just somebody sitting too close to me sets of my anxiety. Hallways are pretty terrible since it's impossible to get anywhere without at least brushing shoulders with somebody, but I've managed so far. There are good days and bad ones, but it isn't much fun and can really hinder relationships since it's something I don't openly talk about, and, like I said before, people tend to take refusal to touch them personally.

  I'm not sure if this is considered a social phobia since, while it clearly involves other people, it doesn't have to do with judgement on their part. So, any thoughts? This is probably more me needing to write this out than anything, but any advice or kind words are still greatly appreciated.
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Online Cuchculan

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Re: Touch
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2013, 06:49:21 AM »
It is something that exposure therapy would work on. That is slowly exposing yourself to the thing you fear the most. The big question is ' how do you find others who would let you use them to help you get over the fear '. Maybe set yourself out a small goal to begin with. A simple handshake this week. Only one this week. Somebody you know very well. That will be your exposure for this week. See how we do things. We don't dive in there. We take things slowly. Now I would try and bring your family members in on this. They might come in useful. Even if it is just your mother to begin with. She can be your first hug. A person you really love and trust. A person you know who will never do anything to harm you. You have to trust her 100%. It doesn't have to be a long hug to begin with. Again you can start out small. Quick hug. See what it feels like to you. But don't try and run away from it. Explore the feelings it brings on. Keep track of them in a journal. Ask yourself a few questions and try and search for the answers. What is the worst thing that can happen to you if a person touches you? Do you feel you might catch something from them? This is all journal work. Sort your own thoughts out. If you feel you can't do this by yourself a therapist may be needed. To help you work through the fear. But it is one that can be worked on. In your own time and at your own pace. Facing up to fears can be hard. I have been there with agoraphobia. Ten years in the house. To then exposing myself to my fears. Not running from them. Standing there and letting the feelings the fear brings on, hit me. The more we do this the weaker those bad feelings become. Just do your best for now. Start out small and build it up.
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