11 November 2006

Fear of Toilets

Worry gives a small thing a big shadow.
~ Swedish Proverb

In the U.K., believe it or not, they have an association called the National Phobics Society. It is a 30-year old registered charity association which believes that only a fellow phobic sufferer can truly care for another phobic patient. It has thousands of members in the U.K. and all over the world. I said "believe-it-or-not," in my opening statement not to offend or sound derogatory, but in utter amazement. Though I'm certain that there are many phobic sufferers here in the Philippines, I do not think an organization devoted to the mitigation of fear symptoms exists here.

I know Fear happens, and how tormenting it can be for someone who experiences it constantly. Fear can literally get hold of one's life and take control, often interfering with daily functions and activities. It is called a disorder because it is usually an irrational fear, and would not bother most people. There many kinds of phobias, and the National Phobics Society has a useful list here for reference.

What caught my attention in the list is Toilet Phobia, or simply, the fear of toilets. There are two known types of Toilet Phobia:
  1. Paruresis - when one is unable to urinate in the presence of other people, usually a public toilet. It can also happen in one's own home, in which the sufferer is "terribly shy" of urinating when someone else is around. People who suffer from this condition are usually unwilling to travel into far places.

  2. Parcopresis - when one is unable to defecate in toilets with many people around. The sufferer limits himself to moving his bowels in "safe places," usually his/her own home. In extreme cases, people are known to have given up their jobs because of this disorder.

People who suffer from the conditions above can go to the extent of not drinking any kind of beverage (for fear of urinating) and induce some sort of constipation (for fear of defecating in public places). They are also known not to take jobs in which the accessibility of a private toilet is not available.

According to the BBC account, these conditions may well be called "the secret phobias," as not many will admit to have it because of "obvious embarrassment and humiliation of being laughed at."


Well, as in any disorder, the sufferer has to admit first he/she has the condition. There is a support egroup here with 320 members, and judging from the message activity, I'd say it is an active group. In this site, a sufferer talks of her experience with the disorder.

Cognitive behavior therapy and hypnosis are some of the treatment options.

15 reactions:

rolly said...

I don't know if it can be called a phobia pero lulang-lula ako sa matataas na lugar to the point na parang mahuhulog ako pag sumilip ako.

I used to have that uneasiness urinating in public places. Parati akong naghahanap na libreng toilet instead of a urinal. Minsan kasi, ayaw lumabas pag me katabi ako e. nako conscious. hehe

BernicE said...

hi doc! howerya? phobias huh? i think im philophobic but i guess thats mild compared to toilet phobia :)

have a great weekend

Dr. Emer said...

TITO ROLLY: I think fear of heights is termed Batophobia. But as long as it doesn't ineterfere with your daily tasks, I think you're still ok. No need to worry. ;)

BERNICE: Hello there! :) Except from being tired from work, I'm ok. You're philophobic?!? That's fear of falling in love, right? I used to think that was a fictional phobia, but now that you said it, medyo bilib na ako. You know, there's actually no med journal literature on that condition.

Anonymous said...

oh my, i think i am sufferring from parcopresis! i swear i can't do it in public places especially if i know that there are other people around. oh but not to the point of giving up my job :)

Sidney said...

I too have toilet phobia (both types) and in addition to that I am allergic to the smell of urine and faeces. It really makes me vomit.
I am a traveller and thoses phobias are indeed no fun. Instead of going to dirty toilets I try to hide in the bushes... ;-)
It is totally crazy but I can't piss when someone does the same next to me.
It is annoying but I can survive... you learn some tricks... ;-)

Sidney said...

Oh, I know I see that I need a psychiatrist ! :-(

bayi said...

Stranger than fiction as these cases may be, the victims have my sympathy. I said victims, not patients, because I believe that most of these conditions are caused by the fast pace of progress in our ever-changing society. The victims certainly deserve sympathy and assistance.

My wife and I do not have any phobia and we count ourselves as being fortunate for being able to handle all our problems realistically.

Dr. Emer said...

GRACITA: I don't think its that bad. :)

SIDNEY: No, you don't. Like Gracita here, I don't think you belong to the extreme cases. ;)

BAYI: 'Good to hear that. :)

duke said...

Doc E,

I think you hit a nerve there talking about fear of toilets. I purposely do not drink water or any liquid when I go to certain places esp if I already know that the state of the toilet :(

Anonymous said...

does anyone have any advice for this...i have an almost 7 year old with a fear of all toilets, even at home...

Anonymous said...

I don't have a fear in urinating in public places, but I have a fear of the toilet itself. When I go into a public toilet, I have to use the urinal, I cannot use a cubicle because I am too scared. Does anyone have a way to help my fear?

Anonymous said...

I don't have a fear in urinating in public places, but I have a fear of the toilet itself. Have had it as long as I can remember

Amy said...

I don't really have a fear of going to the bathroom in public places, or while other people are in the public bathroom, but i have a fear of toilets them selves.. only certain ones, they creep me out. if the bowl is too big or cracked or any thing out of the ordinary, i cant go. you never know what they are going to do. and the ones that make loud noises, or over flow, or move.. i cant do it ! i actually have a fear of the toilet its self.

julz said...

I have a fear of using public toilets, i can pee but not poo in them. When im on holiday then the room toilet is then classed as my toilet. But even then i cant use my own if there are any strangers about.

Mariah said...

I am 16, and I have always been terrified of toilets. Just the toilet itself though. It has gotten to the point where it is taking over my life! I have panic attacks, cry, and just hold it when i have to use a toilet. I really dont want to end up getting a bladder infection, which i know is a possible outcome from this. But I dont know what to do about it. I know i have a problem, but I don't know WHY I am afraid of them. If anyone can help, it'd be greatly appreciated!