Human beings feel many emotions, some of which are pleasant, and others which are not so pleasant but which, although sometimes they do not seem so, are adaptive and have a functionality. Fear is an emotion that puts us in an alert mode, so that, in the face of danger, we can react quickly. Therefore, it is an adaptive emotion, but that the current context, can appear many times in an irrational way, causing a great sensation of anxiety and discomfort. In these cases we speak of a phobic disorder.

There are many types of phobias and they appear in front of many stimuli. Today we will talk about the phobia of undressing, a phobia that can be disabling and can seriously harm a person when it comes to having sex .

Related article: Types of Phobias: Exploring Fear Disorders

What is the phobia of stripping

Phobias can be classified in different ways. There are usually three types of phobias: agoraphobia and specific phobias and social phobias. Disabiliophobia belongs to this group. If you want to know more about what a social phobia is, you can read our article Social phobia: what is it and how to overcome it.

The phobia of undressing also belongs to the so-called sexual phobias, which are those that interfere with a person’s normal sexual behaviour . People with a fear of undressing can have a really bad time in situations where they have to take off their clothes, either in a gym or when having intimate relations with another person. In extreme cases, the phobia may appear even though no one is around, simply by imagining someone watching when the affected person is naked or when there is someone nearby but not necessarily in the same room.

Causes of this phobia

The most frequent cause of the development of this phobia is having suffered a traumatic experience, usually in the intimacy of a bathroom or in a dressing room, or in a situation related to nudity. This fear is therefore produced as a result of learning, specifically through classical conditioning, a type of associative learning that was initially investigated by the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov.

However, one of the most important experiments in the history of psychology, in which John Watson succeeded in making a small boy named Albert develop a phobia, took place in 1920 in the United States.

  • You can know all the characteristics of classical conditioning in our article "The classical conditioning and its most important experiments"

Other causes of fear of nudity

Now, this phobia is complex, like all other social phobias. Some experts say it’s related to low self-esteem and a distorted image of one’s body, known as body dysmorphic disorder. A disorder in which the person suffering from it feels an exaggerated concern for some defect (usually imaginary) in a physical characteristic of the body. These people suffer great anxiety when they have to show their body to others in trying to avoid those situations where they have to undress in front of other people.

Phobias can also develop by vicarious conditioning, that is, by observing unpleasant experiences in other people . Vicarious conditioning has different characteristics from learning by observation. You can check it out in our article "Vocational conditioning: how does this type of learning work?".

Finally, experts say that human beings are biologically predisposed to suffer from phobias, since fear is an adaptive emotion that does not respond to logical arguments. The reason for this is that it is produced by primitive, non-cognitive associations.

Symptoms of Disability

Phobias, although there are different types, share the same symptomatology. These symptoms are usually of three types: cognitive, behavioural and physical . As for the former, they include fear, anguish, shame, lack of concentration or catastrophic thoughts. As for the behavioural symptoms, the person with this disorder tends to avoid the feared stimulus. The most prominent physical symptoms are: hyperventilation, headache, dry mouth, increased heart rate and nausea.


Fear of nudity is a complex situation that requires psychological treatment, as it can cause great discomfort and an inability to have not only sexual but also loving relationships. There are many types of psychotherapy, but according to scientific studies, the most effective for the treatment of phobias is cognitive behavioural therapy .

There are many cognitive-behavioral techniques, but the most effective have proven to be exposure and relaxation techniques. A very popular and widely used technique in the treatment of phobias is systematic desensitization, which contains the two previous ones and exposes the patient to the phobic stimulus gradually. Before that, however, it is necessary for the patient to learn a series of coping strategies.

  • You can learn more about this technique in our article “What is systematic desensitization and how does it work?”
    However, there are other types of therapy that have also proven to be very effective in treating these pathologies. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy are some examples.

Moreover, today, new technologies have also had a positive influence on the treatment of phobias, since virtual reality is used to simulate the presence of the phobic stimulus.