Do you sometimes have stage fright before speaking in public? Are you shy by nature and prefer to avoid the spotlight? This does not necessarily mean that you are blemophobic! Indeed, blemmophobia is a real social phobia that upsets the daily life of the people concerned and can lead them to total isolation. How exactly does it manifest? Where does she come from and How to overcome ? We take stock with Karen Demange, clinical psychologist specializing in eating disorders & Guillaume Losserand, clinical psychologist specializing in weight-related issues.
Blemmophobia is a social phobia characterized by exacerbated and irrational fear of the gaze of others. “This phobia should not be confused with simple shyness, insists Karen Demange. The fear of the gaze of others is normal, but the phobia of the gaze of others is pathological, since it has an impact on the daily life of the people concerned who adopt avoidance strategies so as not to have to bear the gaze of others. »
Concretely, people with blemmophobes constantly have the impression that they are being watched and cannot bear the idea that someone can cast an accusing or demeaning look on their body (naked or clothed). They therefore avoid speaking in public, refuse to wear certain clothes, avoid group activities, the swimming pool, the beach, or even medical consultations. so as not to have to expose themselves to the gaze of others. And this, regardless of their build and physical appearance.
The difference between scopophobia and blemmophobia is subtle: scopophobia refers to the obsessive and irrational fear of the judgment of others. Blemmophobia, on the other hand, refers to the fear of the gaze of others, specifically worn on the body.
This phobia can be triggered in anyone: there is no “profile” at risk. Teenagers and young adults are more concerned, given the physical transformation they are going through. But blemmophobia can also occur in adults after a major trauma or shock.
The opinion of Guillaume Losserand: “We must be careful with diagnoses of psychological origin: some people are decked out with the label “blemmophobe” and end up clinging to it when they are absolutely not blemmophobic at the start”.
And the expert to continue: “There is no question of self-diagnosing yourself with blemmophobe because you are a little nervous before speaking in a meeting, or because you are not very comfortable with the idea of putting on a bathing suit on a beach. Blemmophobia is a real mental disorder. To know how concerned you really are, you have to ask yourself how much fear of the gaze of others hinders you and spoils your daily life. If you come to live in seclusion and you suffer from it, you are certainly in the grip of a phobia and you must turn to a mental health professional.
Good to know: the opinion of a professional is all the more recommended as blemmophobia can have common features with paranoiafor example when we begin to think that every laughter that breaks out near us is necessarily a mockery directed at us.
Blemmophobia can have serious repercussions on the daily life of the people concerned, warns Karen Demange: some people end up going out only at night to meet as few people as possible, interrupting their studies, quitting their job, ending their romantic, friendly and family relationships, etc. They are afraid of appearing weak or ridiculous if they trigger one or more of the following symptoms:
To avoid a panic attack and maintain control, people with blemmophobes therefore put everything in place to withdraw from situations that are uncomfortable for them.
According to our experts, the answer is not so simple… Both agree that the origin of each phobia is individual and that it is not not necessarily linked to a particular traumabut rather to a series of small significant events (inappropriate and recurring remarks from parents, school harassment, moment of embarrassment in public, etc.). “The phobic construction always has an original utility: it is the answer that a person has found to adapt to his environment”, specifies Guillaume Losserand. And to explain: “Anyway, it is certain that we are dealing with anxious people who have low self-esteem and need unravel their personal history to better regain self-confidence and tame human relationships differently”.
“The objective is not to force everyone to go on stage, insists the psychologist. If a person doesn’t want to change and is living relatively well with their phobia, they can continue to do so. But if blemmophobia is ruining her life, she absolutely must get help! »
There are two main therapeutic approaches: the cognitive-behavioral approach (TCC) and the analytical psychodynamic approach, which focuses on how people have constructed their reality and the life experiences that have influenced their view of the world. Doing activities like dancing, singing or acting also allows you to regain self-confidence and to tame the gaze of others again!
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