Ablutophobia, the fear of washing, bathing, and cleaning, is an intense fear that presents little to no danger. Symptoms of this phobia include breathlessness, dizziness, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, feeling sick, shaking, heart palpitations, difficulty speaking or thinking clearly. It also includes a fear of death or loss of control and a sense of detachment from reality along with anxiety attacks. Surprisingly common among people who experience this fear is the realization that they are not alone. The mind activates this fear as a protective mechanism often stemming from a traumatic event related to washing or cleaning. Furthermore, realistic scares portrayed in movies or TV shows can act as triggers for this phobia. The severity and frequency of symptoms may vary depending on the individual.
Not only does Ablutophobia impact an individual’s health and quality of life, but it also has severe consequences for those in work or school settings. Living with this fear hampers concentration and optimal performance. Moreover, Ablutophobia can lead to substantial financial losses throughout one’s lifetime, amounting from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars due to missed opportunities, underachievement in academics or work, and lost promotions. Two main treatments exist for Ablutophobia: temporary suppression through prescribed medication coupled with therapy or self-help remedies.
The use of medication for Ablutophobia is only temporary and simply hides the fear or gives the individual a false sense of relief. In contrast, therapy treatments are more commonly used and encompass various methods. One approach involves working with a practitioner to retrain the subconscious mind, associating positive emotions with situations that trigger the phobia. This process helps alleviate the underlying fear of cleaning, bathing, and washing. Another option is undergoing a treatment program lasting from one to six days, although typically it lasts for just one day. Despite not finding a specific case study, I found a source quoting a psychologist specializing in phobias who shares an extraordinary discovery made in Ablutophobia research field few years ago.