Emetophobia is the intense, intrusive fear of vomit or of vomiting. It is thought to be caused by anxiety about severe illness, death, or the loss of control.
Emetophobia can make people feel worried about everyday things that healthy individuals take for granted. For people with emetophobia, mundane activities may become a source of stress, because many of these activities are seen as potential triggers of fear. Things like traveling, eating out, and even taking care of young children can be very difficult for an emetophobic person.
As with any phobia, emetophobia tends to have a noticeably unpleasant effect on one’s quality of life. Think about what it would be like to have to avid something as simple as visiting a loved one or because you are terrified of having to use public transportation to see him or her. To an emetophobic person, any crowded place (such as a bus) could potentially lead to a situation in which he/she or someone else becomes ill.
Some people consider emetophobia to be related to social phobia; they imagine that vomiting in front of someone else would be the most disastrous and humiliating thing that could possibly happen to them. While a healthy person would want to avoid such a situation, a person who has emetophobia goes to unreasonable lengths to do so.
A recent article in Yahoo News provides a detailed look into how emetophobia can start and how it continues to affect a person’s life on a daily basis. For the individual in the article, the phobia began when she saw a fellow classmate vomit as a child. As a teenager, the interviewee also suffered from several violent bouts of illness. As an adult, the woman’s fear was exacerbated by witnessing the suffering of her seriously ill parents, whose symptoms and experiences made a lasting impression on her.
The woman also reveals that some days are better than others, and when she is really struggling with her phobia, she will sometimes avoid eating altogether. Like many emetophobics, the woman expresses a dislike for riding in the car with other people and being around children, who are more likely to vomit or to carry germs.
The interviewer found that the emetophobic woman has an exhaustive list of food which she will never eat because she is so afraid of vomiting. The list includes various types of seafood, spaghetti, and even soda. Despite these struggles, the woman was able to enter into a committed relationship, and she expresses hope that she will continue to see an improvement in her condition.