As its ending indicates, xyrophobia is a type of phobia. Let’s remember that phobias are intense and irrational fears, in some cases of a pathological nature towards things, situations or even people.

In this article we will see what this psychological disorder is: its consequences, possible origins of xyrophobia, and treatments for this type of phobia.

Xyrophobia: what is it?

Xyrophobia is a very specific phobia; the pathological fear of razor blades . This disorder involves the existence of an unjustified, abnormal and persistent fear of the knives used to cut the beard. This fear can range from contempt, to panic, rejection, aversion, even hatred or disgust.

Those who suffer from xyrophobia have the focus of fear in the fact of shaving: in the case of women, for example, the legs or armpits, which are areas that are usually shaved, and in the case of men, it is usually the beard or moustache.

The fact of shaving implies the possibility of cutting or injuring oneself with the blade of the razor, so the phobia is centered on the fact of being able to hurt oneself in that way , rather than on the very object used -the razor-.

Why does fear arise?

Fear is considered an adaptive reaction of the organism, an alert reaction, caused by a sense of imminent danger .

In a normal state, this reaction helps us to adapt to the environment, and is intended to prevent something bad from happening. In this way, it keeps us away from negative stimuli and helps us to identify those stimuli that are bad for our survival.

That is why fear is a reaction that takes place beforehand to many unpleasant sensations, as it is making us anticipate in order to react quickly to danger signals.

So fear is a coherent reaction to the stimuli of our environment. The problem is when phobias come into play. A phobia is considered to be an overreaction to a situation that is not actually dangerous or potentially dangerous, even though our brain does perceive it this way. This response is not adaptive.

There are almost as many types of phobias as there are types of objects, situations or people. The common factor in all phobias is that they are no longer adaptive, since they involve excessive and exaggerated reactions. These phobias, like xyrophobia, produce unnecessary discomfort, as there is a constant and obsessive preoccupation with a certain stimulus.

Many phobias end up triggering avoidance behaviours of places or situations without a real danger , only a danger that the brain perceives. That is why it is important to know how to distinguish between fear – as an adaptive response to the environment, and phobia, an excessive and maladaptive response.

Symptoms of xyrophobia

The consequences of developing a phobia such as xyrophobia are varied.

On the one hand, a phobia produces a feeling of oppression and discomfort . The brain of a person with xyrophobia becomes alert, and in some cases acts quickly. This reaction is similar to stress, as it focuses attention on certain stimuli and sets the mind in motion quickly.

This alertness can lead to sleep disorders such as insomnia. In extreme cases, these reactions can lead to anxiety.

On the other hand (and this is a long-term consequence) an untreated phobia can become more evident over time , causing a series of symptoms in the patient that affect his mental health and even his interpersonal and social relationships.

Not facing xyrophobia can cause the person to alter their social relationships, avoiding them, for example, because of the fear of showing this phobia and being judged . This fact could have negative impacts on the person’s self-esteem, leading to the separation of the person from her/his work, personal and family environment.

In more severe cases, depression can occur, and in extreme cases, those suffering from the phobia may seek refuge in the use and subsequent abuse of addictive substances such as alcohol or drugs, as these would be the only things that would allow them to ‘cope’ with the phobia.


There are several causes that can produce xyrophobia: on the one hand, it can be a phobia originated from another phobia. For example, belonophobia, which is the fear of sharp objects such as needles, can give rise to xyrophobia.

Another associated phobia is hemophobia, which consists of an irrational fear of blood . Somehow, the fear produced by contact (either physical or visual) with blood, is associated with a consequence that has to be cut with a knife. For this reason, these phobias can converge.

Another cause is the traumatic experiences that have permeated the person’s memory; some episode from the past that may have been very painful. In this episode, the person may have cut themselves deeply or been injured in some way by handling knives, and as a result may develop xyrophobia.

Sometimes the origin is idiopathic, that is, it is not known for sure which trigger(s) of the phobia.


Finally, we are going to talk about the treatments that can be used to tackle xyrophobia in psychotherapy .

It is important to remember that the treatments usually used for certain types of phobias include two types: on the one hand we have exposure therapy and on the other hand there is cognitive behavioral therapy.

In the first case, exposure therapy, the treatment consists of exposing the person with xyrophobia to those stimuli they fear. In this case, contact with the knives would be started, from a superficial form to their use.

In the second case mentioned, cognitive-behavioral therapy, what is intended is to modulate the beliefs and ideas established in a dysfunctional way in the brain , associated with the phobic stimulus, in this case the knife, a potential harmful element.

In any case, as we have already seen, fear is an adaptive process, but when it stops being so, we must act and start a psychological therapy. So, when we are faced with a situation of xyrophobia, we must tackle it through therapeutic action alongside qualified professionals in the field of mental health.

Bibliographic references:

  • American Psychiatric Association (APA) (2014). DSM-5. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. Madrid: Panamericana.
  • Belloch, A., Sandín, B. and Ramos, F. (2010). Manual of Psychopathology. Volume I and II. Madrid: McGraw-Hill.
  • Horse (2002). Manual for the cognitive-behavioral treatment of psychological disorders. Vol. 1 and 2. Madrid. Siglo XXI (Chapters 1-8, 16-18).