What is Dextrophobia? (A Summary)
This blog summarizes the etiological, symptomatic and therapeutic strategies for Dextrophobua.
Dextrophobia is a very irrational fear of objects on the right side of the body. It is a bizarre fear and borders on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
The person suffering from Dextrophobia may become totally obsessive with the thought that if things appear on his right hand side then he will suffer from some harm
To satisfy their obsessive thoughts, the person suffering from Dextrophobia will go through the strangest of compulsions to make sure that nothing is there on the right side of his body.
This type of phobia may be very intensely irrational despite the cause even.
Dextrophobia resembles OCD and varies in intensities for the person suffering from it.
They fear that there are objects on the right side of their body and start to avoid these objects.
They will go to great lengths to ensure that none of the thighs are there on the right side, although none are present.
The brain is divided into two hemispheres, the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere.
The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body and the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body.
Both sides have significantly unique functions.
Causes of Dextrophobia
Dextrophobia may be caused due to any of the following factors:-
- Genetic Predisposition
Every person has a genetic tendency to contract a disease or go through a mental illness. This predisposition is embedded in our DNA and is handed down to us over the generations.
If the person’s ancestors suffered from anxiety disorders, phobias, mental illness or even Dextrophobia, then chances are higher for him/her to suffer from the same or from either of these.
Phobias are familial and most often than not run in families. Their intensity may vary from person to person, from one relative to the other.
- Biological Cause
Hormones play an important role in causing anxiety disorders, specifically phobias as well. Thyroid Stimulating Hormones (TSH) is directly related to the etiology of anxiety related problems that occur.
Symptoms that indicate a Thyroid malfunctioning are:
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Nervous demeanor
- Losing or gaining weight
Low levels of Testosterone (male hormone) can also lead to anxiety. Serotonin, is also called a happy chemical and depletion of this hormone can also cause anxieties of varying levels.
Dopamine, the ‘feel good’ chemical or neurotransmitter is involved in happiness and a state of elatedness.
When the levels of Dopamine drop anxiety and a feeling of dread become a common forte.
Adrenaline rush is another biological factor that emanates the ‘flight or the fight’ response.
This response is triggered when the brain suffers from a threat.
To combat the threat the brain then releases, Adrenalin, a chemical that fastens the heartbeat, elevates the blood pressure, and strengthens the muscles of the legs to either flee for the source of threat or fight what causes it.
This threat may be caused by a stimulus that causes anxiety. This stimulus is the very stimulus that initiates a phobic fear.
In the case of Dextrophobia, this stimulus will be the objects on the right side of the body.
- Behavioral Cause
Children learn behaviors and attitudes from people around them. These people may be their parents, siblings, extended family members like uncles or aunts, grandparents or any significant others they are attached to.
In Dextrophobia it is often found that if a member of the family or peer group is scared of things on the right side of the body, chances are higher that the child will also develop Dextrophobia.
Unknowingly adults are encouraging behaviors that propagate anxiety or stresses in children.
This in turn affects the learnt behavior. Instead of pick and choose from the environment the child replicates the behaviors of his adults, deeming it a fit action to display.
If it is ok for an adult to be scared of things on the right side of his body, then it is fine for the child to adopt and display the symptoms of Dextrophobia.
- Traumatic Incidence/s
Dextrophobia may also be caused due to an incident or accident that was caused to the right side of the body.
This accident may have caused the person harm and pain. To Avoid the same pain and anguish, he develops Dextrophobia.
The trauma caused to either his open right side of the body or that of a loved one can heighten the symptoms of Dextrophobia.
It so happens that the person also suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the symptoms resemble those of Dextrophobia.
- Media, Literature & Facts
Watching movies showing injuries that take place or surgeries of the right side of the body may also develop Dextrophobia.
People who are sensitive to vivid scenes of surgeries or accidents should avoid reading such literature and watching such movies.
There are conditions that occur in a person , like partial paralysis on one side of the body, this can also cause Dextrophobia, where the person will always be scared of being harmed if anything or things are lying on his right side.
Therefore , he/she makes sure the right side of the body is not in contact with any person or any object.
Symptoms of Dextrophobia
Different people display the symptoms of the same phobia differently; with varying degrees of severity.
There are two types of symptoms; Physical symptoms and Psychological symptoms.
The Physical Symptoms include those that involve changes in the bodily sensations and are felt by the sufferer. Examples are:-
- rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Fear of writing with the right hand
- Sweating and trembling
- dry mouth
- raised blood pressure
The Psychological Symptoms include those that impinge on the mind and are visible through a person’s behavior.
- feelings of dread
- Anxiety of the right side of the body being harmed
- fear of dying
- fear of losing control
- fear of harm
- fear of illness
- feeling of helplessness
- mood swings
Therapeutic Interventions for Dextrophobia
Phobias can be treated through a variety of therapeutic interventions. a) Systematic Desensitization b) Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) c) Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP) d) Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction MBSR) d) meditation e) medication
- Systematic Desensitization
This is one of the most common therapies used in treating phobias and an effective way to desensitize the person suffering from these intense fears.
In this therapy the client with phobia is exposed to the stimulus gradually with varying degrees of severity, varying durations of time.
The degree of severity is hierarchical,ranging from low to high. Every time the ‘exposure’ of the feared stimulus is increased.
First of all this hierarchy of fear inducing stimuli is created by the client with the help of the therapist.
Secondly, the therapist teaches relaxation responses that are to be practiced during the exposure procedure.
In Dextrophobia the client is exposed to images of things lying on the right side of someone first.
For the fear to be invoked during therapy, the patient must be exposed to an intense stimulus (one that is feared).
The aim of Systematic Desensitization is to remove the ‘feared stimulus’ and substitute it with a ‘relaxation response.’
The therapist takes the client through these situations via two methods:
a) In vitro – where the feared stimulus is made to imagine
b) In vivo – where the client visits the the feared place in reality
The exposure to the phobic stimulus is of varying durations, where the client exercises relaxation techniques and can revert to a previous non-threatening situation any time.
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
In CBT the therapist helps the client to amend his thoughts so that a desirable behavior can be achieved.
This therapy is effective, because if the thoughts or cognitions alter then there will be a lasting impact on behavior.
The therapist helps the client to discover the reason for this thought and behavior that follows.
This therapy is goal oriented and short termed. Therefore, the results are seen soon.
It changes the way a person thinks and feels. CBT does not focus on probing the past to resolve current problems, rather it concentrates on the present situation.
Our thoughts determine how we act or react to certain stimuli and situations.
Therefore, negative thoughts bring about a negative behavior response or an undesirable behavior.
Whereas, positive thoughts propagate desirable and healthy attitude and response.
The therapist separates the problem into parts. These may include: thoughts, feelings and actions.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a form of CBT and designed by Albert Ellis. According to Ellis, “people are not disturbed by things but rather by their view of things.”
This is what subjective perspective is. It is their thinking actually that upsets the behavior and emotions.
In the treatment of Dextrophobia, the therapist will focus on the present only, the unhealthy emotions and address the subsequent unhealthy responses.
The therapist will aid in identifying the clients’ personal attitudes and beliefs and replaces them with sensible ones.
c) Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP)
In this therapy the client is asked to
- Access the phobia in a safe environment.
- Help them to replay the phobia along with happy emotions.
- Disassociate from the phobia.
d) Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR involves being aware of one’s own thoughts, feelings and reducing the interference from around the environment.
We do not pay attention to how we process the various stimuli that affect us.
We do not process the way our bodies feel and respond, there is no focus on our thoughts and how these thoughts are influencing our emotions.
In MBSR, the client is ‘woken up’ to actually experience the various senses. ‘Focus’ is the keyword!
Alters the emotional attachment one has to his/her thoughts. This attachment is actually the root cause of Dextrophobia and other phobias as well.
Meditation helps to disconnect and is by far the quickest, most effective way to do this. Meditation helps one to detach their thoughts from the emotional content of the phobia.
Meditation helps you to alleviate all irrational thoughts.
Relaxation and maintaining focus gives one the strength to press into the phobic fear and gain access so that it can be eroded, session by session.
Group Therapy is one of the most effective treatments available for phobias. In this the client does not find himself as a lone sufferer.
These groups are individuals who are afflicted with the same types of phobias or anxieties.
They come together to share their thoughts, experiences and their coping mechanisms. This also helps in developing a ‘sense of I am not the only one’ suffering.
f) Routine Modification
The person suffering from Dextrophobia is advised to alter his daily routine and bring about a change.
The change is always considered to be a healthy way of dealing with stress and phobias in particular.
- Adopt a walking regimen
- Induct exercise on a daily basis
- Alter eating and drinking habits
- Improving the sleep cycle
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
There are a number of medicines that the Psychiatrist can prescribe if the symptoms of Dextrophobia are severe and hinder the daily activities of the sufferer, especially the OCD like symptoms.
- Anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs)
These should only be taken after the consultation with the doctor and shouldn’t be initiated or discontinued as per personal discretion.
These medicines are not only used to treat depression, but also to alleviate the symptoms of Dextrophobia as well as other phobias.
Medicines alone might not be as effective, but if used in conjunction with therapies then the results will be better.
What we recommend for Phobias
- If you are suffering from Phobias then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you address the fears you are facing.
Weighted Blankets may help you sleep better if your phobias are affecting your quality of sleep. Weighted blankets apply enough weight on you that they make you feel much more relaxed and calm at night.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the functions of the left side of the brain?
The left side of the brain controls the right side of the boisy and its functions are analytical reasoning, computations and higher order thinking.
What is Sinistrophobia?
Sinistrophobia is the opposite of Dextrophobia and is a fear of things lying on the left side of the body..
Is meditation more effective than CBT?
Meditation and CBT are equally effective for the treatment of Dextrophobia, but a person may not always require medication.
What is a right handed person called?
People who are right handed are called Dextrals.
What is a left handed person called?
A left-handed person is also called Sinistral.
Below is a complete list of all Phobias which we currently cover.
Titles to Read
by Jarnail Singh and Janardhan Singh
by Martin M. Antony, Michelle G. Craske, et al
by Edmund Bourne PhD
by Albert Ellis