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Spotlight on Gynophobia

written by: mmarler • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 4/21/2011

Ever wonder why you or someone you know gets really quiet, nervous, shy or just seems to have a lack of confidence around women? It could be down to gynophobia.

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    Gynophobia - The Fear of Women

    Gynophobia is defined as a morbid fear of women. Its causes and symptoms can vary widely from person to person and should not be confused with misogyny, which is a dislike of or prejudice against women.

    The phobia can stem from a social anxiety disorder or social phobia and though it may appear to others as shyness or a lack of confidence there is more to it than that. Gynophobia was once thought to be a reason why some men were homosexual as expressed in the writings of Havelock Ellis in his 1896 Studies in the Psychology.

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    What can Cause Gynophobia?

    A physically or mentally traumatic experience with a woman such as sexual molestation, rejection or a humiliating situation can all create a distrust of women - the earlier this happens in a man's life the more likely this distrust can lead to phobia, although it can also happen later in life. Being around women can trigger the memory of the traumatic event and bring on the symptoms which may cause a man to avoid situations where they might come into contact with women.

    Growing up with little to no contact with women can create the conditions where a man is not comfortable being around members of the opposite sex. He may be confused about women and the differences between the genders, and it is a common reaction to fear what is unknown or poorly understood. Without female contact on a regular basis the person can slowly start to develop gynophobia as time passes on.

    Peer pressure of a sexual relationship can be another cause especially among teens and young adults. If an individual has not progressed as far with women as his peers he may be mocked and pilloried. This can lead him to view a relationship with a woman more as a challenge. This distorted view of the female gender may in turn lower the man's self-esteem causing him to try less or give up. The longer he goes without physical contact with a woman the stronger the symptoms can become.

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    What are some symptoms of Gynophobia?

    The symptoms can be mild or extremely visible with some serious effects. The symptoms can be closely related to or identical with those of a social phobia or any phobia in general. Some symptoms the gynophobic may show/have when around women or at the thought of having to be, include but are not limited to:

    • Excessive sweating
    • Nausea
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • The inability to articulate words or sentences - limited speech or being completely speechless. (gynophobics are often just thought of as shy)
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Dry mouth
    • Shaking or trembling
    • Uncontrollable desire to flee
    • Feeling of tightness in the throat or chest

    The symptoms can often cause the person to become agoraphobic, anti-social, introverted and withdrawn from others. Individuals react differently to situations so there will always be some symptoms missed or not normally linked to gynophobia.

    References:

    Encyclopedia - http://www.encyclo.co.uk/define/gynophobia

    GYNOPHOBIA by FREDERIC P. VANDOME, AGNES F. MCBREWSTER, JOHN MILLER (2010)

    American Psychological Association - http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug05/stemming.aspx

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    References

    Frederic P. Vandome, Agnes F. McBrewster, John Miller, Gynophobia, Alphascript Publishing (2010)

    American Psychological Association - http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug05/stemming.aspx

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