What is gynophobia?
Gynophobia refers to the fear of women. The fear experienced is irrational in intensity and causes anxiety when the person is around a woman.
In severe cases individuals with gynophobia also avoid interacting with or sharing a space with a woman. Gyno is derived from a Greek word that means woman.
According to APA gynophobia comes under the criteria of social anxiety disorder which is otherwise known as social phobia.
Here a person experiences strong anxiousness about social situations and fear of being embarrassed or humiliated in such situations in the case of gynophobia anxiety is specifically triggered when around a woman.
Gynophobia is often seen in men more than in women however it does not rule out the possibility that many women can also be gynophobic.
Gynophobia can be experienced by both children as well as adults and its severity may vary from individual to individual.
keeping in mind the lack of complex comprehension among children it might be difficult for them to articulate what they’re feeling. hence their feelings may be manifested in the form of excessive crying, temper tantrums, and clinginess.
What are the symptoms of gynophobia?
Individuals suffering from gynophobia complain of both psychological and physical symptoms.
frequently observed physical symptoms of gynophobia are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Experiencing chest tightness
- Dizziness or Lightheadedness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Trembling or shaking
Some psychological symptoms of gynophobia that reflect in one’s behaviors are:
- Irrational fear of women and its awareness
- Shame or guilt about having a fear of a woman
- Avoiding women in various settings
- Experiencing panic attacks or a strong desire to escape the situation which involves sharing a space with a woman
- A lack of control over how they feel around women
What are the causes of gynophobia?
Like other phobias, experts are not certain or lack clarity about the reason and causes of gynophobia.
Nevertheless, studies indicate that most of the phobias that people develop later in life have their roots in past traumatic experiences.
Similarly, with gynophobia, it is said that a traumatic or negative experience with women in the past might be a primary reason for developing gynophobia.
In that mothers who have been neglectful or abusive towards their children contributed majorly towards the manifestation of gynophobia in those children as adults.
Even though the child was unable to express how they felt about their maltreatment as a child it is seen in the form of hatred, avoidance, and fear towards women as adults.
The areas of the brain such as the amygdala that regulate emotions show an increased activity while experiencing anxiety.
Though in many individuals phobias can be connected to their past dramatic experiences many people are not able to point out any specific incident that might have led to the development of gynophobia.
in such cases, researchers tap on individuals’ personality traits and their temperaments which are more or less dependent on their genetics further contributing to the phobia.
This could be supported by the argument that phobias can run in families.
Apart from the genetic and personal factors, it is believed that environmental factors also play a major role.
Behaviorists believe that people hold the ability to learn and model fearful behaviors from people around them through observations and imitations.
many children may develop a fear towards a woman by seeing fearful behavior carried out by their family and friends towards a woman.
it is safe to conclude that gynophobia can result from a combination of natural or nurturing factors.
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What are the treatment options for gynophobia?
Every individual might fear women, but this fear is normal and natural. however, when the fear towards women tends to hamper their daily functioning and cause significant distress it takes the form of gynophobia.
some treatment options for gynophobia are:
exposure therapy is also called systematic desensitization. In this type of therapy, individuals are exposed to their fears in a graded manner.
in the case of gynophobia, an individual is repeatedly exposed to the fear of women. It is based on the principle that exposing individuals to their fears helps them to overcome that fear gradually.
The therapist may start by asking individuals to think about women following looking at pictures of women and then talking to them.
the main aim of exposure therapy is to control an individual’s fear rather than controlling the individual which leads to isolation and withdrawal.
Exposure therapy can be is one of the most successful treatment options for many phobias. exposure therapy can also show the best results in combination with medications.
Cognitive behavior therapy
Cognitive behavior therapy is a form of psychotherapy or talks therapy that helps individuals identify and change their negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors by replacing them with more positive ones.
The therapist tries to change an individual perception about the fearful stimulus and asks them to challenge it by using alternate patterns of thought followed by reinforcement.
What measures can one take when they feel fearful around women?
Some measures and strategies that can help people gain a sense of control while feeling fearful are:
Practice deep breathing
Deep breathing is one such strategy that helps to decrease negative thoughts and calm down an individual within a short period. This involves inhaling deeply through the nose and breathing out through the mouth.
Carry out a challenging activity or exercise
It is believed that exercise is very good for reducing stress and anxiety. Not all situations offer the facility for a gym to exercise and release the anxiousness and stress that builds up.
Under such circumstances, one can take a stroll for about 10 minutes to distract their mind from the negative thoughts and fear.
One can also carry out activities that require a lot of focus and mental strength which in turn diverts their mind from the discomforting thoughts.
Making journal entries
Having a journal to write down how a person is feeling and thinking when they are anxious helps them to reflect upon their thoughts and feelings.
Putting down one’s thoughts and feelings onto a paper helps to provide a sense of temporary relief.
In the case of journal entry, a person does not even have to fear being judged by another person regarding their thoughts and feelings.
It is believed that meditation and other exercises governing mindfulness helps to keep individuals calm and decrease the symptoms and severity of anxiety and fear.
Gynophobia even though seems to be strange in terms of their symptoms are experienced by a considerable number of people.
Gynophobia in extreme cases can cause an individual to isolate and withdraw themselves from a social environment which might trigger their anxiety due to the presence of women.
it can also be responsible for lack of trust in an intimate relationship or strained relationship among female family members
it is important that an individual realizes their negative thoughts, emotions, and feelings and effectively deal with them either with the help of self-help strategies or by seeking professional help in severe cases.
often people with phobias perceive themselves to be weak or are tagged by others as incompetent. Individuals must identify their triggers, weaknesses and try to work on them actively rather than escaping or avoiding them.
Gynophobia can be effectively managed with a combination of therapy and medication prescribed by mental health professionals.
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 causes gynophobia?
Researchers believe that there is no unifying factor that can lead to gynophobia. However, some negative and traumatic experiences with women in the past such as mental and physical abuse, rejection, negligence, and sexual harassment can be the primary causes of gynophobia
Apart from this, even genetics at environmental factors can contribute to the phobia.
Is gynophobia a mental illness?
Gynophobia is an anxiety-based response to fear. It is not looked at as a disorder in the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders but can come under the criteria of specific phobias.
What are gynophobia and androphobia?
Androphobia refers to the fear of men. While gynophobia refers to the fear of a woman.
Both gynophobia and androphobia are characterized by Negative thoughts, emotions, and feelings in the presence of women or men.
How do you cure gynophobia?
There is no specific treatment for gynophobia. However, a combination of exposure therapy and medication can best work to reduce the symptoms of gynophobia.