ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Do you have toilet phobia?

Updated on April 24, 2013
Does the sight of a sign like this make you feel anxious or nervous?
Does the sight of a sign like this make you feel anxious or nervous? | Source

What is toilet phobia?

Toilet phobia is simply 'an unreasonable fear of using the toilet'. Despite being a basic human need that each and everyone of us has to attend to various times a day, excreting bodily waste for some is extremely embarrassing.

This fear about using the toilet may include one or more of the following: general fear of using public toilets, fear of being too far away from a toilet, fear of scrutiny from others when using a toilet, not being physically able to urinate or defecate.

Who is affected by toilet phobia?

Due to the nature of the phobia, anyone suffering from it is likely to experience extreme embarrassment. Due to this, numbers of actual sufferers are far higher than would be imagined as people will attempt to hide or deal with their 'little secret' alone.

Although exact statistics are unknown regarding numbers of toilet phobics, there is estimated to be approximately 7-10% of men who suffer from one aspect of toilet phobia known as paruresis or shy bladder syndrome. Despite men being more commonly affected (possibly due to the lack of privacy afforded by the majority of men's public toilets), women find themselves affected also. Paruresis is an inability to urinate in the presence or perceived presence of others.

Other types of phobia

As briefly mentioned above, one aspect of toilet phobia is known as paruresis (or shy bladder syndrome, bashful bladder, pee shyness, bashful kidneys, urophobia). This inability to urinate in front of others is tremendously debilitating for the sufferer. It mainly affects men as male public toilet design means they are stood in the open at a urinal. This leaves them open to the visual scrutiny of other users. The longer the user is stood at the urinal, the more they often feel scruitinized by others, which causes greater anxiety and further decreases any likelikhood of being able to relax enough to pee.

Another phobia is parcopresis (or shy bowel syndrome, psychogenic faecal retention). This can affect men, women and children equally and is the inability to pass a bowel movement due to increases in anxiety if others are near. The increase in anxiety causes increases in muscular tension and can make a bowel movement impossible. Although difficult to deal with, parcopresis will not have the impact on the individual's day to day life as paruresis does due to the frequency of excretion involved.

Fear of being unable to locate a public toilet is another form of toilet phobia. This tends to be common in individuals who have had a history of anxiety or panic attacks. They may become obsessed with needing to find out the exact location of all public facilities nearby. This phobia can ultimately, like other forms, lead to withdrawal from society.

Fear of public toilets and contamination issues is classified as a form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), whereby the individual obsessively worries about toilet cleanliness and the possibility of catching germs. Sufferers become so fearful that they will ultimately soil or wet themselves rather than subject themselves to using a public toilet.

Source

What is anxiety?

All the previously mentioned toilet phobias have the common thread of provocating and eliciting fear and anxiety in the individual.

Anxiety is a common emotion in all of us at certain times and involves separate but interlinked parts:

  • what we feel or experience (feelings)
  • what we do/don't do (behaviour)
  • what we think (cognition)

Feelings we experience when anxious can include: hot flushes/flashes, blushing, butterflies in the stomach and sweating.

Behaviour is then affected and in the case of toilet phobics, they will often avoid social engagements, day trips and nights out to the detriment of their social life and their significant others.

Anxiety affects our cognition often by causing us to focus on unhelpful thoughts. In the case of someone with shy bladder for example, they may find themselves focusing on thoughts such as: "Everyone is looking at me", "Everyone must think I'm weird". These, often unfounded, thoughts merely serve to consolidate the problem.

Vicious circle of anxiety

Anxiety consists of the three separate but interlinking areas of: what we feel, what we do/don't do and what we think. These three areas often serve to set the individual up in a vicious circle leading to a self-perpetuating situation.

Let's take an example:

John suffers from paruresis or shy bladder syndrome. When needing to use a public toilet he begins to experience some of the symptoms of anxiety (sweating, jittery legs, butterflies etc) and unhelpful thoughts ("everyone will think I'm weird"), causing him to avoid using a public toilet to urinate or even to avoid going out at all. This avoidance relieves John's unpleasant thoughts and feelings but is only temporary. The next time John gets an invite to a bar with friends or to the game he will experience the thoughts and feelings all over again. This usually determines his subsequent behaviour - AVOIDANCE. On and on it goes!

Treatment for phobias

The treatment for phobias is numerous, ranging from: hypnosis to exposure therapy to NLP (neuro linguistic programming). However, to date for this type of phobia, the most successful form of treatment recommended by clinicians and psychologists is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

CBT in its simplest form helps people to overcome theirs fears and anxieties by aiding them to work on their thoughts and their subsequent behaviours. One method of CBT involves changing thought processes. It is a common fact that the more we concentrate on something (positive or negative), the more impact it has on our lives. Therefore, someone with a phobia who is constantly dwelling on unhelpful thoughts, such as: "I'll catch thousands of germs and become ill if I use this toilet", or "I can't go, someone will hear me and think badly of me", will become constantly more absorbed by these thoughts. As there is often no objective evidence that "I will catch germs..." or "....someone will think badly of me" then the job of this type of therapy is to get the individual to face up to these facts. Objectify the situation, as opposed to merely thinking about them subjectively. As CBT is such an extensive subject, it is too complex to discuss in this article. Please see my other article on CBT.

In addition to CBT, other treatments include: diet, relaxation, exercise, medication.

While diet, relaxation and exercise are common recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, their implementation, whilst aiding with general health will have no significant effect on tackling the type of phobia head on. Medication can be a source of help in overcoming severe anxiety in the short term. However, it is merely a crutch to aid the individual to cope short term and can only ever be recommended via consultation with a medical professional.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Heyyou 

      2 years ago

      Excuse me but parcopresis is 100 times worse than paruresis. Your statement is irrational. You may not be able to pee once but if you are not able to poop once, you experience bloating for the rest of the week. There is a tremendous difference between a minor bladder pain and an irritated intestine.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)