Navel phobia, omphalophobia definition, causes and symptoms.

The navel phobia, also known as omphalofobia, is one extreme, toward uncontrollable, irrational fear of navel. People who suffer from it experience heightened anxiety and discomfort every time they are exposed to their phobic stimulus, that is, to a navel.

The navels feared by subjects with omphalophobia can be both their navel and other people’s navels. Despite being one of the strangest and least frequent phobias, this alteration can generate a high level of discomfort in the person and significantly deteriorate their quality of life and functioning.

Affecting daily activities, such as taking off clothes, showering, or grooming, can be very complicated for a person with this type of phobia , as they involve exposing (seeing or touching) the navel.

In the same way, they can present great difficulties attending places where people go shirtless (and you can see their navel), such as beaches, swimming pools, and changing rooms.

Characteristics of the phobia of the navels

Omphalophobia is an anxiety disorder , specifically, it refers to a rare and unusual type of specific phobia.

In this way, the main characteristic of omphalophobia is to suffer a phobic fear of the navel, this means that a person fears this part of the body that is characterized by:

  • Excessive:  The fear of the navel is characterized by being excessive, these elements cause an extremely high fear that is not related to the real demands of the situation.
  • Irrational:  The navels by themselves do not constitute any risk for people, but subjects with this phobia interpret them as highly threatening, this is because totally irrational thoughts govern the fear of disorder.
  • Uncontrollable:  People with omphalophobia are often aware that their fear of the belly button is excessive and irrational. However, they cannot avoid feelings of fear, as they appear automatically and uncontrollably.
  • Permanent:  The phobic fear of the navel is characterized by being persistent and permanent. This does not disappear with time and is not subject to certain stages or vital moments.


The manifestations of anxiety appear every time the subject is exposed to his feared elements (navels), due to the high sensations of fear that these provoke.

The anxiety symptoms of this disorder are usually severe and intense. At present, it has been established that the manifestations can be classified into three main groups: physical symptoms, cognitive symptoms, and behavioral symptoms.

Physical symptoms

The physical symptoms refer to a series of changes in the functioning of the body, and these alterations appear as a response to the phobic fear produced by the navels and are due to an increase in the activity of the autonomic nervous system of the brain.

The physical manifestations of omphatophobia can vary remarkably in each case, so they do not follow a unique pattern of presentation. However, a person will generally experience some of these symptoms when exposed to their phobic element.

  • Increase in heart rate.
  • Increased respiratory rate.
  • Palpitations and / or tachycardias.
  • Drowning sensation
  • Increase in muscle tension.
  • Excessive sweating
  • Pupillary dilation.
  • Stomach and/or headaches.
  • Dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting.

Cognitive symptoms

They refer to the irrational and unpredictable thoughts that the person with omphalophobia develops regarding the navel. The cognitions of the alteration can take different forms and contents, but they are always characterized as irrational and negatively attribute the feared element (the navels).

Behavioral symptoms

Finally, to talk about this phobia it is necessary that the fear produced by the navels negatively affect the person’s behavior pattern. In this sense, the alteration presents two main behavioral symptoms: avoidance and escape.

Avoidance is the most prevalent behavioral symptom and is characterized by avoiding contact with the navel at all times. This manifestation can have negative consequences, such as avoiding self-washing or other activities that require contact with the navel.

On the other hand, escape is the behavior that individuals put into motion when they have been exposed to their dreaded stimuli, it is common for people with this alteration to escape from places such as beaches or swimming pools when they see the navel of other people.

Causes of omphalophobia

As with other specific phobias, this one also begins in childhood, particularly due to a negative or traumatic experience associated with this part of the body.

Most phobics say, as children, being fascinated with their belly button, then they poke around and end up hurting them. Many claim to have seen something “dark or dirty” in the belly button that they try to remove with sharp objects. This “dirt” makes them feel unhygienic and causes nausea every time they see or think of the belly button.

A baby is connected through the umbilical cord to the mother’s uterus, and this knowledge sometimes makes a phobic suppose that “doctors accidentally left a part of the cord in the navel.” For nervous and “high-tension” patients already suffering from other anxiety disorders, this knowledge is enough to trigger a fear/disgust response every time they have a thought about their belly buttons.

Some children may have been inappropriately beaten, touched, or sexually abused on the belly button as children. Your brain then triggers a phobic response as a defense and protection mechanism.

How to treat belly button phobia?

Omphalophobia can be quite serious, as constant thoughts about your belly buttons can make you cry or feel anxious or nauseous all the time. Unfortunately, many people refuse to seek help for it, it is a highly treatable phobia.

Various therapies, including hypnotherapy , psychotherapy, and cognitive behavior therapy, can help to get to the bottom of the phobia naturally. This should be done only under the guidance of a trained and experienced therapist. Sometimes anti-anxiety medications may also be prescribed, especially if the phobic response is very severe or is affecting the patient’s daily life. However, such drugs should not be taken long term as they tend to have side effects and only provide symptomatic relief, and do not cure the phobia.

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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.

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