Arrhenophobia (phobia of men): symptoms, causes and treatment
Arrhenophobia is a type of anxiety disorder based on fear of men.
There are a multitude of phobias, associated with an infinity of stimuli. There are phobias, but, less known than others, as for example arrhenophobia. This phobia consists of the intense and persistent fear of men.
Arrhenophobia originates especially as a result of traumatic situations experienced with people of the male sex.. In this article we will know what it consists of, its symptoms, causes and possible treatments to apply.
- Article related: "Types of phobias: exploring the disorders of the fear".
Arrhenophobia: what does it consist of?
As we were saying, arrhenophobia is a little known phobia; it is about the phobia to the men, and it is translated in an intense, persistent and disproportionate fear to the male sex. It can be suffered by both men and women.
This fear, moreover, is irrationalIrrationality is one of the characteristics that differentiates a phobia from a fear.
Arrhenophobia can be classified in the section "other phobias" proposed by the DSM-5 (Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders), as it does not correspond to any of the other 4 types of phobias proposed by the manual (phobia of animals, phobia of blood/injection/wound, phobia of natural situations and situational phobias).
In this group of phobias ("other phobias"), along with arrhenophobia, there are other types of phobia, such as the intense fear of choking, of contracting a disease, etc.
The symptoms of arrhenophobia include the typical symptoms of a specific phobia, which are, mainly:
1. Intense fear
Appears an intense fear of men, as well as of situations that may involve meeting a man, being alone with him, being alone with a man, being alone with a man, being alone with a man, being alone with a man.The fear of being alone with a man, being alone with him, engaging in conversation, etc. Instead of fear it can also be anxiety (in high doses).
2. Physiological symptoms
Associated with the previous anxiety, in arrhenophobia physiological symptoms may appear, such as: increased heart rate, increased Blood pressure, dizziness, nausea, vomitinghyperreactivity to stimuli, insomnia, nightmares, etc.
3. Panic attacks
In extreme cases of arrhenophobia, panic attacks may even appear in the presence of a man (or the possibility of seeing him, being alone with him, etc.).
These episodes are characterized by the above symptoms together with one or more of the following symptoms: sensation of shortness of breath, agitated breathing, fear of "going crazy".fear of "losing control", etc.
4. Avoidance or resistance
Another characteristic symptom of arrhenophobia is the avoidance of men at all costs; situations that may lead to meeting one, interacting with one, etc., are also avoided.etc. It can also happen that, instead of avoiding men, situations of interaction with them are faced, but with great anxiety (i.e., the situation is "resisted").
5. Pronounced discomfort
In addition to the intense fear and physiological symptoms, the patient feels an intense discomfort that affects his daily life. This discomfort is physical and psychological, and can reduce the quality of life of the person with arrhenophobia.
6. Altered functioning
The above symptoms eventually interfere with the overall functioning of the person. This includes all (or some) of their spheres: work, social, personal, etc. This symptom is very characteristic of mental disorders in general, and not only of mental disorders.and not only of anxiety disorders or, as in this case, of phobias.
The causes of arrhenophobia are mainly related to traumatic experiences with men. If that traumatic experience has not been treated psychologically (i.e., if it has not been processed and assumed), the problems it triggers can be aggravated.
The origin of arrhenophobia is also is related to a certain genetic vulnerability to suffering from an anxiety disorderas well as with a fragile, insecure and/or dependent temperament or personality.
Returning to the traumatic situation experienced, this can be related to may be related to maltreatment by a man (whether physical, sexual or verbal aggression, etc.), a situation of sexual abuse or even rape.
If it has not been experienced in first person, it may also have been witnessed in people close to them (for example, observing the father hitting the mother, due to vicarious conditioning) or they may even have heard stories of other people's suffering and with negative consequences related to men.
It seems logical that the fact of having experienced such a traumatic situation, ends up causing a phobia (or other mental disorder), since the person, consciously or unconsciously, does not want to suffer it again, and therefore "protects" him/herself.and therefore "protects" himself/herself by avoiding the stimulus or object in question (in this case, men).
However, phobias come from responses that pretend to be adaptive but in reality end up being dysfunctional and pathological, since avoiding something keeps us from facing life situations and prevents us from being able to develop adequate coping mechanisms.
Moreover, we enter a vicious circle, we enter into a vicious circlebecause if we do not face what we fear, we cannot understand or manage it, and the discomfort remains there, perpetuating itself over time.
The psychological treatment of arrhenophobia will aim at coping with the phobic stimulus, in this case men. Without adequate coping, the stimulus cannot be processed correctly (feeding the avoidant behaviors) and this will only perpetuate and chronify arrhenophobia.
Thus, the treatments that are usually used for arrhenophobia areas in many other specific phobias, are the following:
1. exposure techniques 2.
Exposure therapy involves the patient being exposed to the object he/she fears so much. It is carried out by means of a hierarchy of graded items.In this case, the scale of items may include situations of interaction with increasingly closer men. This type of therapy is the most effective for treating specific phobias, where the phobic object is well delimited.
2. Cognitive techniques
Cognitive therapy mainly includes cognitive restructuring. The aim is to inform the patient about his or her phobia, to help him or her understand why it has appeared, why it is maintained, and to help him or her learn to identify catastrophic thoughts. learn to identify the catastrophic thoughts he/she has in relation to men.. In addition, it will be sought to replace these thoughts with other more realistic and functional thoughts.
The decision of the type of treatment will always be made taking into account the degree of intensity of arrhenophobia and the characteristics of each person.
- American Psychiatric Association -APA- (2014). DSM-5. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. Madrid: Panamericana.
- Belloch, A.; Sandín, B. and Ramos, F. (2010). Manual de Psicopatología. Volume I and II. Madrid: McGraw-Hill.
- Caballo (2002). Manual for the cognitive-behavioral treatment of psychological disorders. Vol. 1 and 2. Siglo XXI.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)