Filemaphobia, also known as filematophobia , is the phobia of kissing. Phobias are anxiety disorders in which the sufferer feels a great fear when coming into contact with the phobic stimulus, which causes him great anxiety and, as a consequence, the attempt to avoid such stimulus.

Kisses are a great sign of love, but people with this kind of phobia feel a rejection of these loving acts. In this article we will talk about phylemaphobia and review its causes, symptoms and consequences.

What is kissing phobia

Phylemaphobia, or extreme fear of kissing, can develop in people who think they don’t kiss well (for example, because of some bad experience) and are afraid to do so because of what others may think of them. This causes them anxiety and discomfort and so they avoid this type of situation.

Kissing phobia can cause serious problems in interpersonal relationships, as it can make the person not want to have intimate or romantic relationships with other people and makes social interaction difficult. This phobic disorder can be part of erotophobia or sex phobia.

Other related phobias

However, phylemaphobia can also be related to other phobias, which would cause the person suffering from this disorder to refuse to kiss others in order to avoid some phobic stimuli such as bad breath or physical contact.

1. Mysophobia

Sometimes, phylemaphobia can be related to a fear of germs, which makes a person think that kissing can spread a disease. Logically, this refers to “kissing on the mouth”, because the individual thinks that there may be germs or bacteria in the saliva that are harmful to his or her body.

2. Halitophobia

Fear of kissing can also be related to halitophobia, that is, the smell the person gives off from his or her mouth. Not only the smell and bad breath of other individuals, but your own as well. This condition can be related to bromidrosiphobia , that is, the fear of body odours.

3. Hephatophobia

Happhobia is the fear of touching or being touched and affects the person who suffers from it in a negative way. These individuals may feel great anxiety about any kiss, even those on the cheek . This makes interpersonal relationships very difficult.

4. Fear of intimacy and vulnerability

The kiss is an intimate act in which love for a person is demonstrated. But some individuals can be very fearful of these situations. Fear of intimacy can be associated with low self-esteem and a negative self-image.

On the other hand, the fear of vulnerability often has to do with the fear of abandonment or the fear of disliking others.

Causes of phylemaphobia

Since it is a specific phobia , its development usually has its origin in associative learning , since many studies have shown that the vast majority of phobias are learned by classic conditioning.

This is because a traumatic experience from the past that causes a strong emotional reaction and is not originally related to the phobic stimulus, i.e. kissing (or intimacy, physical contact, etc.), causes a connection between the two.

If originally this stimulus was neutral, after the strong emotional reaction, it becomes a stimulus conditioned by fear , and causes great anxiety and a strong desire for avoidance when the person thinks or lives this phobic situation.

But in addition to this learning as a cause, other authors state that there are also biological origins , and that human beings, due to genetics and the need for the evolution of the species, are prone to suffer this conditioning in the face of certain stimuli, since fear helps us to be alert and to survive (or at least helped us in the past).

Symptoms of kissing phobia

The phobia of kissing presents the same symptoms as other phobias , the only thing that changes is the stimulus that provokes the reaction. In other words, it is the kissing that causes discomfort and anxiety.

Anxiety, therefore, is the characteristic symptom, and so it belongs to the group of anxiety disorders. However, the symptomatology also includes

  • Physical symptoms: sweating, hyperventilation and shortness of breath , accelerated heartbeat, tremors, chills, chest tightness, dry mouth, nausea, dizziness, headaches…
  • Psychological symptoms: thoughts that the person can spread deadly diseases, i.e. distorted thoughts .
  • Behavioral symptoms: avoidance of the situation or feared stimulus, i.e., kissing

Overcoming the Fear of Kissing

Phylemaphobia negatively affects the life of the person who suffers it, especially in his or her interpersonal relationships. Fortunately, it is possible to overcome this disorder thanks to psychological therapy .

Like any phobia, the form of psychotherapy that has been shown to be most effective for this pathology is cognitive behavioural therapy, which aims to intervene by focusing on changes in mental processes (thoughts, beliefs, emotions…) and the behaviours and conduct that the person engages in and which may be maladaptive and dysfunctional.

Cognitive behavioural therapy includes cognitive therapy techniques and behavioural therapies, and may include, among many others, cognitive restructuring techniques, social skills techniques , problem solving training, relaxation techniques and exposure techniques. The latter two are very often used for the treatment of phobias.

As regards exposure techniques , systematic desensitization has proved to be very effective, and consists of gradually exposing the patient to the phobic stimulus. This technique also promotes more useful coping skills for the patient when he/she is in the situation that causes anxiety or discomfort.

But cognitive behavioral therapy isn’t the only form of treatment. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) also seems to work very well for this type of disorder and other anxiety disorders.

In extreme cases, the administration of anxiolytic drugs is also a therapeutic option; however, it should always be combined with psychotherapy.