Mysophobia (Fear of Germs)
The fear of Germs may be the result of negative experiences in the past or it may have been learnt from a parent or caregiver during earlier developmental years.
Mysophobia became highly relevant during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic.
Whilst people have understandably become stressed and anxious about catching COVID19, the fact remains that most people only suffer mild symptoms.
However, in order to mobilise the British public into action through social distancing, the messages coming from the UK Government were deliberately crafted to create a sense of fear, so it is important to be aware of the effects of these communications.
The unique meanings that people attribute to life experiences depends on a wide range of psychological, socio-economic and cultural beliefs each influencing the types of coping strategies that people develop.
There is no scientific evidence that Mysophobia is the result of any kind of biological fault or chemical imbalance in spite of the traction that these biomedical models of mental illness are given in the media.
On the contrary, Mysophobia is much more likely to be the result of the sufferers subjective evaluation of what happened to them in the past and is therefore a psychosocial phenomenon.
Mysophobia Symptoms & Behaviours
The symptoms of Mysophobia are very similar to other specific phobias and often include the following feelings or behaviours:
- Panic attacks.
- Avoidance of situations related to Germs.
- Safety behaviours designed to minimise exposure to Germs.
- Low self esteem.
Within the Power Threat Meaning Framework, the symptoms of Mysophobia may be better thought of as threat responses and coping strategies that sufferers adopt in order to cope with the immediate problem.
Unfortunately, when faced with threats such as the Fear of Germs, not everybody adopts threat responses that are adaptive to the situation and frequently choose behaviours that end up being more harmful to mental and physical health in the longer term.
Despite this obvious paradox, it is important to recognise that nobody deliberately chooses maladaptive coping mechanisms that result in more harm than good.
The reason for this is that at some level, the choice of threat response made complete sense at the time the threat was originally experienced which may have been in childhood when less personal resources were available.
Maladaptive Coping Mechanisms in Mysophobia
A common problem that people experiencing Mysophobia symptoms have is that their threat responses or coping strategies may no longer be relevant to the current context or time in which they live.
Unfortunately, human beings have a built-in tendency to repeat behaviours that are supposed to provide benefits without questioning whether or not they still make sense.
We call these behaviours habits and habitual behaviours require very little conscious activation as they are generally performed automatically at a sub-conscious level.
Habitual coping strategies and threat responses that are no longer coherent in the current context are known as post coherent adaptations and are, in most cases, the principal cause of the emotional distress being experienced at the present time.
Psychosocial Therapy for Mysophobia
We offer a range of psychotherapy options for Mysophobia all of which adopt a psychosocial perspective.
What this means is that we will help you to understand and solve your Fear of Germs from the point of view of what has happened to you and NOT what is wrong with you.
This approach is known as psychosocial therapy and can help clients to achieve a more meaningful and lasting recovery by using the British Psychological Society’s Power Threat Meaning Framework which rejects the idea that emotional distress is an illness.
This new approach stands in stark contrast to the biomedical models of mental illness used widely throughout the psychiatric and medical communities despite the almost total absence of any underlying scientific evidence in support of their position.
The psychosocial approaches to Mysophobia, on the other hand, are built upon a significant base of clinical and empirical evidence established over the last 20 years.
CORE CBT for Mysophobia
The CORE CBT Programme was devised and written by Paul in 2020 and combines all the best elements of CBT with additional knowledge drawn from research in Personal Construct Theory, Attribution Theory, Self-Determination Theory and Social Constructivism.
It is particularly well-suited to anxiety related problems such as Mysophobia because of the significance of cognitive distortions in the creation of phobic responses.
It is a 10 module course normally taken over a 10 week period with weekly hour long counselling sessions (either face-to-face or using Zoom), but can also be followed as a teach yourself CBT course for those with more manageable levels of anxiety.
FREE Initial Consultations
If you’d like to find out more about overcoming or recovering from Mysophobia or the Fear of Germs then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.
During this consultation we will discuss your particular problems and the potential solutions in a safe and confidential environment without you having to commit to any counselling programmes or sessions going forward.
It is our view that not only do you need to decide whether the Lee Psychology approach suits who you are and what you have been through, but also whether or not you feel you will be able to work effectively with us as individuals.