Fear Of Worms(Vermiphobia or Helminthobia): Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Fear of worms is also known by other names such as Vermiphobia and Helminthobia. They all refer to the persistent and irrational fear of worms. The word Scoleciphobia originates from the Greek Scoleci, parasitic worms, and phobias, deep fear or aversion. Helminthophobia is the secondary fear that a person’s body will be infested or attacked by worms (Helmintho is another Greek word for worms).

Many children fear worms, especially earthworms, and tend to scream or cry at their sight. Even adults are not safe from sclecifobia, and hundreds of thousands of people worldwide have this reasonably common zoophobia.

For Scoleciphobic individuals, worms’ mere sight or thought is enough to make their skin crawl. They often avoid going outdoors during hot or rainy weather when earthworms crawl out of their holes. Sclecifobia is also associated with fear of disease or germs.

You may also be interested in reading: Fear Of Silence: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment And Overcoming.

 Causes of sclecifobia

  • Sclecifobia, as mentioned above, is generally associated with a fear of unsanitary conditions.
  • Many Scoleciphobes adults believe that the presence of worms means poor hygiene or illness.
  • Worms are an essential part of our ecosystem and crucial components of many food chains.
  • However, our products are also eaten.
  • Finding a worm or half a worm in an apple is a nightmare experience.
  • To top it off, existing ideologies about health, disease, and their relationship to parasites can lead to sclecifobia.
  • Being afflicted by intestinal parasites such as tapeworm or ringworm is common in childhood, especially in underdeveloped or developing countries.
  • A child could have been given certain medications to get rid of these worms that could have been seen writhing in the stool.
  • This is enough to cause a phobia or fear of worms for life.
  • The fear of worms can also be evolutionary.
  • Man has always feared reptiles, poisonous snakes, etc.
  • Worms resemble tiny versions of snakes and can evoke a nasty response due to their ability to spread disease.
  • Often, phobia can have unconscious causes. For example, a person afraid of worms in bed may have had a traumatic sexual experience that his mind could have suppressed.
  • The old saying “Open a can of worms” means complicating existing things or aggravating a problem.
  • Therefore, worms are directly / indirectly referred to as “unwanted/unpleasant or disgusting.”

Biology classes at school often require students to dissect earthworms to study their parts.

  • This can be perceived as unpleasant or unpleasant for anxious individuals.
  • Other harmful or traumatic experiences related to parasites can also trigger vermiphobia.
  • A child may have been teased or bullied by siblings or friends into finding worms in the bed or closet.
  • Similarly, an adult could have accidentally dug up or killed a worm while gardening.
  • These incidents can “totally scare” anxious-minded people into developing Scoleciphobia.
  • TV shows like “Monsters Inside Me” or the Medical Mystery, etc., often represent worms that cause deadly diseases in humans.
  • Similarly, media reports or scientific programs related to worms-like-looking viruses or parasites can also cause fear of worms.

Symptoms of fear of worms phobia

Symptoms of fear of worms phobia

  • The fear of worms often causes debilitating mental and physical symptoms.
  • In Helminthhophobia, the phobic believes that worms crawl all over his body.
  • As a result, they may fidget, scratch, or wash several times daily.
  • Crying, screaming, shaking, feeling nauseous, having a high heart rate, and sweating are other common symptoms of this phobia.
  • The phobic may experience numbness or a detachment from reality; they cannot express their thoughts clearly.
  • The phobic might avoid using a shovel to dig up the ground or even refuse to use public restrooms.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is another symptom of esclecifobia.
  • The phobic may wash or bathe several times a day or take extra precautions like cleaning his house and garden or closing doors and windows to prevent worms from accidentally crawling inside the house.
  • Scoleciphobics are often afraid of seeing worms in their feces.
  • This persistent and irrational fear of worms can often lead to depression or being laughed at or bullied.
  • Some phobics have actually dropped out of college or quit specific jobs that regularly encountered worms.
  • Often, the weather becomes a trigger to the point that phobics may insist on switching to cooler weather to avoid worms.

Overcome the fear of worms

  • Talk therapy, psychotherapy, and hypnosis are standard methods to treat this phobia.
  • There are many online forums dedicated to Scoleciphobia, and they can help one feel comforted by the fact that there are hundreds of people who suffer from such a persistent fear of worms.
  • Being gradually exposed to the worms can help desensitize the individual to their fear.
  • For example, phobics can begin by seeing images of worms, progressing to being in the presence of a worm, or even touching and holding worms until they do not experience panic or anxiety.

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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.