What is Xyrophobia? (An Overview)
In this blog we will discuss the symptoms, causes and treatment of Xyrophobia.
A fear of razors is called Xyrophobia. Razors are tools, with blades, that are used to shave.
People use it to get rid of their unwanted hair. Mostly, it is used by men to shave their beards.
Though, women too use them to remove hair from their legs and hands.
Unlike waxing, another hair removal technique, razors are unpainful and not harmful.
One might get a slight cut if they go rough on it.
People don’t fear razors so much because generally, they pose no threat to one’s health.
However, someone who’s suffering from Xyrophobia will get terrified if they see razors.
Xyrophobia is an anxiety disorder in the DSM-V, labelled as a specific phobia.
A sufferer experiences extreme anxiety when exposed to razors or even a thought of it can instigate these unpleasant symptoms.
These overwhelmingly exaggerated levels of anxiety persuade one to avid the object they fear.
Avoidance affects a sufferer’s social and occupational functioning. For example, they will refrain from going to grocery shops or the aisle where they might get exposed to razors.
Individuals will also avoid going to washrooms in their own home if they see a razor.
These avoidances can turn into obsessions, causing a lot of mental anguish to the sufferer.
This causes one to develop OCD and or depression in the future.
If, at times, avoiding razors becomes impossible, a sufferer goes through a lot of misery. This leads to full-blown panic attacks.
An individual might require hospitalization.
Xyrophobia is an irrational fear of razors. The name originates from a Greek word ‘xyro’ meaning razor and ‘phobos’ meaning fear.
Symptoms of Xyrophobia
All anxiety disorders, including specific phobias, have anxiety as their pivotal symptom.
Therefore, someone suffering from Xyrophobia will experience extreme anxiety when exposed to their fear stimuli, razors.
Fear of razors is not wholly irrational because razors are sharp objects which can lead to a cut that might cause bleeding.
Someone suffering from this phobia to be unable to rationalise his fear and ends up getting anxious.
Avoidance as mentioned earlier is repetitive.
These recurrent actions maintain one’s fear by producing feelings of security, which makes one believe that razors are to be feared of.
According to the DSM-V, to be diagnosed with Xyrophobia, one needs to experience anxiety lasting for at least 6 months and at least 3-5 symptoms (from the list mentioned below).
- Excessive anxiety when exposed to razors
- Excessive anxiety when thinking about razors
- Inability to manage anxiety
- Full-blown panic attacks
- Avoiding razors
- Increased heart beat
- Muscle tension
- Feelings of dizziness/fainting
- Fear of an impending doom
- Feeling depressed
- Excessive sweating
- Hot/cold flashes
- Butterflies in the stomach
- Drying up of mouth
Causes of Xyrophobia
All anxiety disorders, including specific phobias have no real/definite cause.
They are caused by either a genetic predisposition and or environmental factors.
According to the genetic/biological model, specific phobias are developed due to a genetic predisposition.
Someone who has a family history of anxiety disorders has a higher chance of developing Xyrophobia.
This is because any alteration in the genes of his parents will be transferred to him.
An imbalance in the neurotransmitter levels of the brain can also be one of the many reasons as to why one develops Xyrophobia.
These alterations are low dopamine levels and high serotonin levels.
This genetic tendency to develop a specific phobia is further explained by the Diathesis-stress relationship.
This suggests that someone with a genetic predisposition will develop Xyrophobia only in the presence of the correct environmental trigger event.
Xyrophobia can be caused by a number of different phobias.
Someone who has a fear of sharp objects (Aichmophobia) will be afraid of razors too.
Similarly, someone who is fearful of injuries or blood (Traumatophobia and Hemophobia respectively) can develop this irrational fear because of the fact that razors can cause cuts, which might bleed and sting.
An individual who fears ugliness (Cacophobia) may also develop Xyrophobia because if one gets a cut on his face while shaving, he’ll be fearful that he might look ugly.
Additionally, one who has read or heard about razors being a transmitter for HIV will be afraid of using them because he thinks he’ll get infected.
Therefore, Xyrophobia is developed by both genetics and environmental factors.
Treatment of Xyrophobia
Xyrophobia, like all other specific phobias, has no exclusive type of treatment that is specifically designed to treat it.
Like all the other specific phobias, Xyrophobia is treated by a number of different methods: Psychological treatment and Biological treatment.
- Psychological Treatment
• Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is one of the most frequently used treatments for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders.
Xyrophobia is defined as the irrational fear of razors.
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.
• 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.
• Exposure Therapy
It is one of the most frequently used ways of treating patients with Xyrophobia (or any other kind of specific phobia).
In this therapy, the patient is exposed to the source of his fear over a certain span of time.
To begin with the therapy, the therapist exposes the patient to the least triggering stimuli, a picture of a razor for example.
As the therapy progresses and the patient is able to control his anxious feelings, imagery can be used to take the treatment a step further. In this part of the treatment the patient is asked to visualize/imagine a situation in which he is using a razor.
During this process of imagery, one actually feels that he’s in that particular situation or place, experiencing various senses.
Once the person successfully, without feeling anxious, clears this step of the therapy, he is then exposed to real razor.
While the patient is being exposed to different levels of fear during the various stages of therapy, the therapist simultaneously teaches them coping exercises.
These include, breathing techniques or muscle relaxation methods to lower their anxiety, when in an actual fear causing situation.
This teaches them how to remain calm when exposed to their fear stimuli.
Before actually starting the exposure therapy, the therapist needs to figure out the intensity of the patient’s fear, as to deduce whether they will be able to undergo this treatment, without any physical or psychological harm caused to them during the exposure processes.
However, these steps desensitize one to their fear of urine or urinating, by exposing them to that stimuli repeatedly, until they learn to undergo the situation without anxiety/panic attacks.
• Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
This another form of treatment used with patients suffering from specific phobia or anxiety disorders.
It is used with patients who know the cause of their phobia.
First, the therapist collects the patients’ history of different fears. They then identify the real cause of the particular fear/phobia the patient has.
They then discuss any new/latest event that triggered their anxiety and fear in the past few weeks.
People coming with specific phobias are told to imagine their distress causing stimuli.
The therapist then works with the individual in order for them to overcome their fear.
In the case of Xyrophobia, the patient will be advised on how to overcome his fear of razors.
They do this by creating a positive imagery for the patients’ feared stimuli.
• Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
This is another effective therapy used to treat Xyrophobia.
It is more commonly used with people suffering from personality disorders, but is also useful with patients suffering from this type of animal 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.
They are not just one of the many treatment therapies used for Xyrophobia, 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.
- Biological Treatment
• Drug Therapy
Drugs are used to reduce the physical symptoms caused by Xyrophobia.
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 the 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. Antidepressant Drugs
These drugs, as the name suggests don’t only treat depression but are also very effective in treating phobias.
Medicines like Paxil 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.
Medicines like Klonopin are anti-anxiety drugs.
They are most commonly used with patients who experience panic attacks and also lowers their anxiety by binding to receptor cells of the brain that cause these unpleasant symptoms.
Whether the cause of Xyrophobia, 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).
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.
Titles to read
- 101 Ways to Stop Anxiety: Practical Exercises to Find Peace and Free Yourself from Fears, Phobias, Panic Attacks, and Freak-Outs
by Tanya J. Peterson
by Andy Caponigro
by Rebekah Lyons
by Susan M. Orsillo, Lizabeth Roemer, et al
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
Q1) How is Xyrophobia caused?
This phobia of injuries is caused by either a genetic predisposition, such as a family history or an environmental factor-past traumatic experience.
Q2) Do I have Xyrophobia?
To know if someone has Xyrophobia, one needs to experience extreme anxiety, panic attacks, fainting, increased heartbeat, nausea, muscle tension etc.
The anxiety one experiences should last for at least 6 months.
Q3) How can I overcome my fear of razors?
One needs to consult a therapist in order to get treated.
The therapies one can get in order to get treated are CBT, exposure therapy and or medicinal drugs.
Q4) How common is Traumatophobia?
Around 3-4% of the population experiences BII phobia. It usually begins at around the age of 10-13 years.
Below is a complete list of all Phobias which we currently cover.