Phalacrophobia (fear of baldness): symptoms and treatments
Jul 21, 2022
We are in a world where physical appearance is constantly judged by others. The clothes we wear, our weight, volume and physical shape and even the presence or absence of hair are elements considered of great importance in interpersonal relationships and even work, leading to the creation of complexes if the ideal of beauty is not met or even in some cases to the suffering of different mental illnesses such as anorexia and bulimia. There are also some phobias linked to aspects of our physique.
One of them is phalacrophobia., which we will talk about throughout this article, and which is related to an intense fear of baldness.
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Phalacrophobia: what is this disorder?
We understand as phalacrophobia the existence of an exaggerated and excessive fear of baldness, fear that generates a very high level of anxiety when exposed to stimuli referred to or related to said condition.
We are facing a specific type of phobia referring to elements related to physical appearance. This implies the existence of a totally irrational and uncontrollable fear of a specific stimulus, so that the symptoms are severe enough to constitute aanxiety disorder.
The fact of being exposed or even imagining being exposed to said stimulus generates such anxiety in the patient that he can trigger physiological symptoms such as tachycardia, hyper intonation, tremors, dizziness and even crises of anxiety. This causes the subject to actively avoid exposure to the stimulus in question, or if they must be exposed to it, they experience a high level of tension and discomfort.
In phalacrophobia, the fear in question may be both to the fact that the subject himself becomes bald and to the possibility of meeting bald subjects. Thus, the subject may be in tension before social interaction with people with baldness, avoiding it. The presence of comments regarding hair loss or even advertising regarding it can also generate great anxiety and be actively avoided.
this fear it is often associated with men, but the truth is that it is also suffered by many women. In this sense, it must be taken into account that hair loss is socially expected in men, and is not so common in women. This expectation can have an effect on the probability of suffering from phalacrophobia.
This phobia can have severe repercussions in the patient's life and even become an aspect with which the subject becomes obsessed. Not surprisingly, the fear of going bald leads to frequent checking routines, such as observing the amount of hair lost when combing.
In extreme cases, the existence of perceptual alterations has been observed (in a similar way to what happens in anorexia), considering the subject to be losing hair or have spots on the scalp if despite keeping it perfectly healthy.
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Causes of this phobia
The origin of both this and other phobias is an element on which there are a large number of hypotheses, considering that its genesis is due to the combination of multiple factors.
In the case at hand, One of the possible explanations for this phobia is conditioning.. Some of the people who suffer from phalacrophobia have suffered throughout their childhood some type of traumatic experience that at the time was associated with baldness. For example, having received abuse or mistreatment by someone with alopecia, or having observed the death of an elderly person or close loved one with this characteristic.
In these cases it is possible that the subject who will suffer from the phobia associates the fact of being abused or face death with baldness, generating exposure to this fact a high level of anxiety.
Another possibility is found in the fact that we highlighted in the introduction: the physical aspect. Although in recent times some people consider that baldness can represent manhood, strength and personality, the truth is that baldness isIt has been culturally associated with physical decline and has been removed from the canon of beauty prevailing in society. This could generate a learned fear of not being considered attractive and being socially rejected.
Linked to the two previous peppers, we must comment that hair loss has traditionally been considered as something typical of aging, assuming the loss of youth and the abilities of this time and entering a stage of losses and an approach to the death.
Treatment of this phobia will vary depending on the stimuli in question that generate anxiety.
Exposure to the phobic stimulus and systematic desensitization are some of the most effective techniques in the treatment of phobias, being based on the approximation of the subject to the phobic stimuli. First, a hierarchy between patient and professional will be developed in order to determine some of the the main situations that generate anxiety, to organize them according to the anxiety that generate.
After that, the patient will be exposed to the feared situations, starting with situations that generate average levels of anxiety to be exposed to them until in at least two consecutive trials the level of anxiety decreases to become imperceptible. After that, you can move on to the next item in the hierarchy.
Another treatment to consider is cognitive restructuring, very necessary in order to modify the dysfunctional beliefs that may be behind the emergence or maintenance of the phobia. Techniques such as decatastrophizing can also be used to reduce the importance of the possibility of going bald.
One last element that we can take into account is the possibility of using relaxation techniques in order to reduce the level of anxiety.