In today’s society, it is not uncommon for people to be afraid of something. Whether it is heights, public speaking, or even snakes, there is always something that scares us. For some people, that fear of beautiful women. This phobia is known as Venustraphobia and can cause great anxiety in those who suffer from it. While the cause of this phobia is unknown. It is thought to be either a result of past trauma or an innate fear.
Venustraphobia or Caligynephobia
Venustraphobia, also called calliginephobia, is included in anxiety disorders. As a manifestation of social phobia and consists of an irrational fear of beautiful women. Don’t confuse it with gynophobia, which is the fear of women in general.
The tachycardia, the dry mouth, a sudden and exaggerated blushing on the cheeks. Accompanying a certain inability to articulate meaningful sentences … Who has never found himself in front of an extremely attractive person?
Being with a beautiful woman shouldn’t be a problem, on the contrary, it’s always nice to have good company. However, there are people for whom a seemingly harmless situation means hardship.
If you think this happens to you and being around beautiful women causes you great discomfort, chances are you have venustraphobia.
Characteristics of venustraphobia
It is normal that when you are in front of someone you like and are attracted to you, you become nervous. Flushed and stutter, due to the large amount of chemicals that the brain separates at that time due to the excitement.
The problem arises when these symptoms are felt very intensely and cause such discomfort. That they prevent any kind of contact with attractive and beautiful women.
Although it can affect women, it is men who suffer the most from this phobia. Being able to manifest the symptoms even without having contact with women, just observing them in pictures or films.
People who suffer from this problem tend to experience both shame and shyness. As well as feelings similar to an anxiety attack and tend to avoid any kind of situation involving attractive women to be safe. .
So, if you are surrounded by beautiful women, it makes you feel ashamed. But you are able to cope with the situation, calm, do not suffer from this problem.
And the truth is, it can be quite boring because around 50% of the world’s population is made up of women. Also, the book of tastes is not written in such a way that within this percentage. The number of women who are considered beautiful and attractive can be very high.
Symptoms of venustraphobia
The symptoms that produce venustraphobia are those of the problems grouped under anxiety disorders:
Shortness of breath
Fear of losing control
Feeling of disconnection from reality.
It must be taken into account that the problem does not manifest itself in the same way in everyone. Since it depends on its characteristics, the origin of the problem, the environment in which it develops, etc.
In the end, what matters is the degree of discomfort felt and the interference in each person’s life.
Appearance and maintenance of venustraphobia
In general, most phobias result from the experience of certain negative or traumatic events. Except in some cases where the mere observation of such an event may be enough to trigger them.
In the case of venustraphobia, being involved in embarrassing situations due to lack of skills in dealing with women. Of a certain attractiveness, having been teased by some of them or a failed relationship can be the source of the problem.
However, this type of problem cannot be reduced to a simple cause and effect relationship (negative event -> fear) because, unfortunately, fear has the ability to provide feedback. That is, most of the things you do to avoid being afraid end up promoting it and delaying its demise.
In fact, the most common and, after all, most natural response to fear is flight. People therefore avoid what scares them to reduce their discomfort.
However, although it is paradoxical, the relief you feel at having avoided meeting this good-looking woman. Helps to maintain the fear and even increase the next time.
Other things affecting venustraphobia (and any phobia) are cognitive distortions: ruminations, catastrophic beliefs, self-criticism, anticipation of aversive situations… They only feed the monster.
Among the most common cognitive distortions of this disorder, we can find:
Guessing the thought of others: “You think I’ll go with paint.”
Making negative predictions without sufficient evidence: “I’ll see it and I’m sure I’ll start to stutter.”
Look at the negative and ignore or disqualify the positives: “I went to talk to him and for what? I made a fool of myself once again.
Generalization: “I could never talk to a woman.”
Expand or minimize the situation: “It was horrible, as soon as he looked at me I turned very red and I didn’t know where to go. I’m sure he won’t want to see me again.”
Emotional reasoning: “If it hurts me so much, it will be for something.”
Personalization: “He didn’t stop to talk to me because he knows I’m a weirdo.”
Dichotomous or “all or nothing” thinking: “If I can’t even talk to a woman who is beautiful, I’m going to ruin everything.”
Negative labels: “I’m worthless”, “I’m useless”. – low self-esteem
Requests: “I should be braver.”
Ultimately, these negative experiences and thoughts lead you into a vicious circle
you meet an attractive woman. You don’t know how to communicate with and negative thoughts of self-criticism, panic attack, anticipating anxiety, anxiety, etc. . are starting to appear.
It causes you to effectively produce that angst and anxiety until you eventually avoid such annoying situations. However, you cannot always avoid meeting women who are attractive to you, so this situation repeats itself over and over again.
The most unpleasant of anxiety disorders like this is not so much the discomfort felt before exposure to the negative stimulus as the vicious cycle that anxiety puts you through.
Well, once you experience it, you become anxious and you end up being distressed by the possibility of feeling anxiety. And when you find that you are anxious, just thinking about it, you feel that it is an uncontrollable anxiety.
Until then, anxiety alone becomes the worst enemy, even beyond the situations that triggered it.
Treatment of venustraphobia
Venustraphobia is a little known disorder on its own when identified as a variant of social phobia. Which is why it is common to intervene in a similar way.
There are several techniques to combat this type of phobia, both from psychiatry and psychology:
Pharmacological treatment for people with this phobia
The most used in these cases are antidepressants (SSRIs) and anxiolytics, which can be used as treatment for cases of extreme gravity.
However, many studies have shown greater efficacy of pharmacological treatment when supplemented with psychological therapy rather than alone. Its use is not recommended during treatment by exposure techniques.
This is because the drugs work on the body by decreasing the symptoms of anxiety, which makes you feel good right now. However, this does not eliminate the problem as the inability to interact with attractive women is still present.
Cognitive-behavioral techniques (CBT)
Among the techniques recommended by the cognitive behavioral approach, we can find:
Cognitive Therapy: it is based on the procedure of cognitive restructuring through which one works on automatic and negative thoughts. The patient learns to identify them and to propose alternatives to these thoughts in order to eliminate the discomfort they produce.
Relaxation techniques: the goal is to bring the person to remain calm and reduce activation in the face of phobic situations. The most used are Jacobson Progressive Relaxation and Schultz Autogenic Training.
Exposure Therapy: is considered the star product in the approach to phobias.
It consists of gradually exposing the patient to attractive women so that they can gradually get used to their presence. While learning to control their fears until they disappear.
To do this, a list of situations must be established and ordered according to the degree of discomfort they produce. Once this is done, the first situation in the hierarchy that the patient has to deal with is chosen.
Social Skills Training In many cases, people who suffer from this disorder are due to the fact. That they do not have the right skills to deal with women and especially if they are attracted to them.
Social skills training is usually the pre-exposure step so that the patient has enough tools to deal with the situation.
Venustraphobia in film and television – fear of beautiful women
Despite being a little-known mess as such, it has been exploited a lot in film and television series.
You can find several films in which a male character appears who fears the presence of attractive women.
Without going any further, the actor and director Woody Allen is very assiduous in this type of argument in which he represents the neurotic character who feels intimidated by women.
If you remember the legendary Dragon Ball anime series, Yamcha’s character suffers from this disorder, not even being able to see Bulma without fainting.
Also, in the series The Big Bang Theory appears the character of Raj, who has a great inability to relate to women who seem beautiful.
Other examples are movies in which the protagonist is the typical incomparable that every time he sees the head cheerleader he gets stuck and becomes very anxious, until he manages to overcome his fear and to talk to him.
Curiosities: Did you know?
A study conducted by the University of Valencia and that of Groningen used a sample of 84 students who measured the levels of cortisol (hormone released in stressful situations) before and after spending time alone with a woman. stranger whom they found attractive.
These men, whose consumption of alcohol and other stimulants for 24 hours have been restricted to avoid any form of interference, are expected to be in a room with two other people and a sudoku as entertainment.
The participants assumed that these two people were the researcher and another participant like them. So when the researcher left the room on the pretext of taking up another hobby, he left the subject and the other person alone.
Researchers found that participants’ cortisol levels increased more. When the person they were living with was an attractive woman compared to someone of the same gender.
Findings by the research team linked this increase in cortisol to the subjects’ perception that being alone with an attractive woman was an opportunity to bond with her.
“This study shows that personal interaction with attractive women can influence cortisol secretion.”
The results show
for men to spend even five minutes with an unfamiliar and attractive woman, causes them a level of stress that can affect the heart.
These effects are worse for those who consider themselves to be “not in the same league” as the woman in front of them, even though they are still trying to get their attention.
The level of anxiety felt by these men can be compared to that produced by parachute jumping. Their cortisol levels increase even more, increasing the possibility of suffering a heart attack or cardiac arrest.
In fact, if by chance they can date the girl in question, it can be even more damaging. Because exposure continues to experience physical or psychological stressors, it can lead to chronically elevated cortisol levels, which can have very adverse health effects.
References: causes of venustraphobia and social anxiety
Alfano, Candice A., Beidel, Deborah C. (2011), Social anxiety in adolescents and young adults: translating developmental science into practice. American Psychological Association.
Beck, J. (2010), Interpersonal Processes in Anxiety Disorders: Implications for Understanding Psychopathology and Treatment, American Psychological Association.
Beidel, Deborah C., Turner, Samuel M. (2007), Shy Children, Phobic Adults: The Nature and Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder American Psychological Association.
Feske, U., Chambless, D.L. (1995) Cognitive-behavioral treatment versus exposure alone for social phobia: a meta-analysis, Behavior Therapy, 26, 695-720.
Rapee, R.M., Heimberg, R.G, (1997), A cognitive-behavioral model of anxiety in social phobia, behavioral therapy, 35, (8), 741-756.
Veale, D., (2003), Treatment of social phobia, Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 9, 258-264.
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Vogue Health Team