What is Rectophobia? (A Comprehensive Guide)
In this blog we will deliberate the causes, symptoms and treatments of Rectophobia.
Rectophobia is an irrational fear of the rectum, rectal diseases and pain in the rectum.
Rectophobia has been derived from the Latin word ‘recto’ straight intestine and Greek word, phobos, meaning fear.
Rectophobia is a specific phobia and is also called Proctophobia.
People who suffer from Rectophobia will have a great deal of anxiety at the mere thought of rectums or the pain associated with any condition of the rectum.
They find this part of the body repulsive and because of defecation through that part, they think it as something that should be avoided.
Rectophobia is an intense fear of the rectum, making the sufferer go through a full blown panic attack at the mere thought of rectum.
His daily hygiene may be marred if he has to use the washroom.
Rectophobia may also be associated with the fear of constipation.
Symptoms of Rectophobia
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders-5th Edition (DSM-V) suggests a number of symptoms one suffers from in all specific phobias, including Rectophobia.
This irrational fear of rectums is a part of anxiety disorders, thus anxiety is it’s focal symptom.
It aggravates other physiological symptoms, such as heart rate, breathing rate and one’s mood.
These symptoms persuade the repetitive acts of avoidance as mentioned earlier.
Because each individual experiences Rectophobia differently (based on their past experiences), one will suffer from more severe symptoms , as compared to someone else.
According to the DSM-V, anxiety that one experiences in Rectophobia should last for at least 6-months.
Other than this, one should also suffer from 3-5 symptoms for the list mentioned below.
- Excessive anxiety when exposed to rectums
- Excessive anxiety when thinking about rectums
- Inability to manage anxiety
- Full-blown panic attacks
- Avoiding rectums
- Increased heart beat
- Muscle tension
- Feelings of dizziness/fainting
- Feeling depressed
- Fear of an impending doom
- Excessive sweating
- Hot/cold flashes
- Butterflies in the stomach
Causes of Rectophobia
A person who has undergone a proctoscopy may develop Rectophobia due to the pain of the procedure and would develop anxiety at the mention of rectum.
Fear of constipation (write the name) is also associated with Rectophobia. When the person suffers from prolonged constipation, hemorrhoids develop.
Swollen and inflamed veins in the rectum that cause discomfort and bleeding are called hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are usually caused from straining during bowel movements, obesity, or pregnancy.
According to the Freudian theory a person or cold may be fixated at the stage where the libido surrounds the back passage.
This stage is the second stage in Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychosexual development, lasting from age 18 months to three years.
According to Freud, the rectum is the primary erogenous zone and pleasure is derived from controlling bladder and bowel movement.
A person who has had problems during his second stage will most likely develop Rectophobia.
There are forcibly violated victims who have been known to suffer from Rectophobia as well.
Treatment of Rectophobia
Rectophobia, like all other specific phobias, has no exclusive type of treatment that is specifically designed to treat it.
Like all the other specific phobias, Rectophobia is treated by a number of different therapies:
- Psychological Treatment
• Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is one of the most frequently used treatments for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders. Rectophobia is defined as the irrational fear of rectums.
Thus, the therapist helps the patient in replacing these irrational thoughts with more rational ones.
The patients are helped out in analyzing and justifying the way they feel about their fear stimuli.
Therapists assist them in uncovering the reasons behind their fear and later they provide them with alternate, pleasant thoughts.
The patient is told to maintain a thought diary (with ABCD column) which provides them a replacement for every irrational thought they have, when thinking about a particular situation.
The ABCD stands for:
i. A (antecedents) a situation or triggering event.
ii. B (belief) the thought that comes to one’s mind when in that triggering situation.
iii. C (consequences) the symptoms/feelings caused by that event/thought
iv. D (dispute) alternate, rational thoughts provided by the therapist in an attempt to dispute/challenge those irrational beliefs.
This last section of the thought diary is what really plays a role in helping the person feel good/less anxious.
They are not just one of the many treatment therapies used for Rectophobia, instead they are one of the most common ways of relaxation used by many people.
Yoga tends to stimulate the meditative state of one’s mind while the person is in a particular yoga posture.
Through yoga/meditation the mind is diverted towards something more productive and calm, allowing the person to escape the negative, distress causing thoughts.
Out of a number of yoga types, one can benefit from any yoga type/pose they like. Hatha yoga is one of the different types of yoga.
The breathing techniques or the imagery one creates while in a yoga posture are the real factors that makes the person feel less anxious and diverts their mind, away from the thoughts about their fear stimuli.
• Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
This is another effective therapy used to treat Rectophobia.
It is more commonly used with people suffering from personality disorders, but is also useful with patients suffering from this type of specific phobia.
Coping skills are taught in the DBT group which lasts for about 6-months and can have a number of people (depending on how many join the group).
i.Half-smiling is the first module of DBT. It is a technique that is used with patients who are distressed because of their irrational thoughts.
The technique is known as ‘Half-smiling’ because the person is first advised to think about the stimuli that fears or upsets them, and while doing so they are told to lift the corners of their mouths by subtly smiling.
Smiling is not that will help one get rid of these unpleasant thoughts, it is the person’s ability to constrain itself from thinking about those thoughts while half smiling.
ii.Mindfulness, the second module, is another technique used in DBT groups which helps the individual in getting rid of those negative thoughts.
Individuals are told to focus on the present and be attentive to what is going on around them at the moment.
This helps in breaking the link between their mind and any negative thought that might come to them then.
For example, a person is told to focus on his breath or on the sound of the wind around them, making use of their auditory sense.
iii.The third technique or module of the DBT is distress tolerance skills.
This module teaches people to calm themselves down in healthy ways when they are distressed or emotionally overwhelmed.
Individuals are allowed to make wise, rational decisions and take immediate action, rather than being captured by emotionally destructive thoughts that might make the situation worse.
Reality acceptance skills are also learnt under this model so that people fully accept reality and later make plans on how to address the problem.
• Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR is a meditation therapy, used to manage stress or anxiety. It is an 8-week program which includes group sessions.
Mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga are practiced in these sessions.
Lectures and group discussions are also done to talk about mental health and increase interactivity.
In mindfulness meditation the person is told to, for example, focus on the sensations felt while breathing or the rhythm of the chest rising and falling during the process.
This distracts the person’s attention from something stressful to something which is neutral and soothing.
For quick and effective treatment, patients are also given a set of home works, for example 45 minutes of yoga and meditation sessions for 6 days a week and to record their results/feelings in a book or diary for 15 minutes a day.
- Biological Treatment
• Drug Therapy
Drugs are used to reduce the physical symptoms caused by Rectophobia.
Drugs are very quick in effectiveness, as they start showing progress in the patients’ health at least 2 weeks after the medicine is taken.
This type of biological treatment is usually more effective if the cause of phobia is only genetic.
However, these drugs/medicines are not to be taken without a doctor’s prescription or consultation.
Two types of drugs are used in the treatment of this phobia:
i. Anti-anxiety Drugs
These include medicines like Klonopin.
They are most commonly used with patients who experience panic attacks and also lowers the anxiety by binding to receptor cells of the brain that cause these unpleasant symptoms.
ii. Antidepressant Drugs
These drugs as the name suggests don’t only treat depression but are also very effective in treating phobias.
Medicines like Lexapro reduce the anxious feelings of a person and makes him feel calm. They need to be taken on a daily basis but not without a doctor’s advice.
Whether the cause of Rectophobia, or any other type of specific phobia is genetics, environmental or both, the best and the most effective way of treating them is by using a combination of both biological treatments (drugs) with cognitive treatment (for example CBT/exposure therapy).
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1) What is Rectophobia?
Rectophobia is a specific phobia. It is the irrational fear one has of rectums.
They suffer extreme anxiety when exposed to their fear stimuli.
Q2) What causes Rectophobia?
Rectophobia can be a result of a number of reasons such as, a genetic predisposition or some past-traumatic event.
Q3) What are the symptoms of Rectophobia?
Anxiety, panic attacks, nausea or migraine are few of the symptoms, out of many, that one experiences when suffering from Rectophobia.