Need help breaking free from addiction?
1-888-993-3112
Call 24/7 for treatment options. Who Answers?

Bathroom Phobia

Question:

I have a very strong aversion to bathrooms. Public Bathrooms, private bathrooms, basically any bathroom which anyone besides myself has used. I am extremely distressed when I hear someone using the restroom or when I can smell it. For example when someone passes gas in a chair I can never sit there again. Can you tell me what this condition is called?

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
  • Dr. Dombeck intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
  • Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
  • No correspondence takes place.
  • No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Dombeck to people submitting questions.
  • Dr. Dombeck, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Dombeck and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
Answer:

Probably what is happening for you is best conceptualized as a simple phobia. A phobia is a reliable fear reaction that is out of proportion to real threat. Phobia people often have panic attacks (severe, intense heart-palpitating “feel like you’re gonna die” episodes) in response to situations that other people don’t feel afraid in. Common phobias are: agoraphobia (fear of being out in a public place), social phobia (fear of being rejected or publicly embarrassed). Simple phobias are common too. A simple phobia is a phobia that develops in response to a simple thing (like a dog or a spider or blood) rather than a complex thing like being out in public. Phobias are commonly given Latin names describing what is feared, so in your case, we might describe your bathroom aversion as lavarephobia or “fear of the washroom” – I’m making this up, but that is more or less how it would be named. You should know that simple phobias are very much treatable things which are quite amenable to cognitive behavioral psychotherapy. If you want to, you can probably do something about your aversion. The general procedure used tends to involve what is called graduated exposure. In essence, you and the therapist would list (in order of fear provoking quality) a variety of bathroom situations, and then you would work on managing to stay relaxed in situations of increasing threat until you were able to tolerate the Full Monty.

More "Ask Dr. Dombeck" View Columnists

Close

Call the Helpline Toll-FREE

To Get Treatment Options Now.

1-888-993-3112 Who Answers? 100% Confidential

Get Help For You or a Loved One Here...

Click Here for More Info.

Close

Call The Toll-FREE Helpline 24/7 To Get Treatment Options Now.

100% Confidential
Get Treatment Options From Your Phone... Tap to Expand