The fear of being fat is a persistent, abnormal fear of putting on weight. It’s almost redundant to say that this fear is far more common in Western cultures with their emphasis on being thin, having a model’s stick-figure and a decided focus on dieting to the extreme.
Obesophobia affects those people who have a desire to lose weight to the point that there is a compulsion to avoid any food that might lead to increased body fat or weight. It is a case of “the more, … the more” where the more the foods are avoided the more the fear grows.
And in case you are wondering, obesophobia may be linked with anorexia nervosa which is the eating disorder that afflicts millions of people world-wide in their quest to be thin.
For the obesophobe, there is a desire for perfection that is evidenced in a belief that failure has occurred if weight is gained. This too is similar for an anorexia or bulimia sufferer who often wants to be the perfect weight, the perfect size, the perfect shape and also get perfect grades.
Unfortunately, the more that weight is lost, the more under-nourished that the person becomes, than the more that logical thought is compromised and the harder it is to break the cycle of malnourishment.
What Causes Fear of Being Fat?
The cause of obesophobia is similar to that of most phobias: environmental, evolutionary and neurobiological factors have pulled together to impact negatively on the afflicted individual.
Environmental factors may include: some external traumatic experience, peer pressure, media pressure, or family pressure, lack of support or instability in one’s life, worrying about the death of someone significant from an obesity-related illness or the death of someone from an obesity or weight-related complication. Additionally, there is the cultural aspect of thin being ‘cool’ which is at odds with most (and not all) fast-food chains and their fat-stacked take-away foods.
Evolutionary factors may include genetic influences, and role modelling by other family members.
Neurobiological factors may include: the individual’s ability or otherwise to cope with stress, nutritional deficits leading to lower levels of endorphins and “happy hormones”, and the impact of trauma and its subsequent emotional chaos.
What are the symptoms of Obesophobia?
I think the obvious one is worrying about food constantly, and not just a food, but all food and whether it will put on weight.
There can also be an obsession with exercise to ensure that weight gain does not occur, a fear of gaining any weight, and many rules that must be followed. These rules may relate to many other areas of life and not just food. They can include rules about clothing, rules about eating in private and never being seen to eat in public; rules about dating; rules about work; and even rules about seeking a doctor’s help. This latter rule can be phrased as, “I only see a doctor if I can’t get out of bed” in order to prevent that doctor from urging the person to eat more.
There can also be other things like perceiving that they are fat, that they over-eat all the time, that restriction leads to perfection and denial of hunger makes them happy.
At this point, the obesophobe may also have full-blown anorexia or bulimia and seriously needs to seek help.
What help is available for Obesophobia or Anorexia?
If you or someone you know has these symptoms it is strongly recommended that professional help is sought immediately from your doctor and psychologist. With this illness, the earlier that help is obtained, the easier it is to attend therapy and the converse applies. The longer that the person has experienced obesophobia or anorexia, it is considered that the therapy will take much longer to bring about a positive response.
Treatment Modalities for Obesophobia
Usually there is a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy and psychotherapy so that thoughts can be reconfigured, emotional responses rewired and relaxation techniques learnt to reduce anxiety.
Some individuals also go on to anti-depressant or anxiolytic medication as they may be depressed and/or anxious in addition to having this fear of gaining weight, or anorexia or bulimia.
Systematic desensitization can occur through gradual exposure to the phobia, and this emphasises modification of the individual’s response to what they fear. Behavioural modification has its roots in behaviour therapy which would attempt to shape a more relaxed, that is, a less challenging reaction in the face of the feared phobia.
To sum up, fear of being fat is a phobia which can lead to an eating disorder, but it does not always do this, and help is available.
Ergasiophobia is not quite so simple as me not wanting to do housework as many people though and those who have this phobia may have found themselves in situations where if they make a mistake, someone’s life or livelihood is at risk.
What occupations came to mind? Police, surgeons, firemen, financial advisers, psychologists, doctors, nurses, bomb disposal experts… all come springing into my mind, simply because mistakes in these professions can be very costly for either yourself, or someone else, or their family, property or livelihood.
How does Fear of Work start?
- Perhaps from having made a mistake and then dwelling on that mistake and repeating it over and over in your mind…
- Maybe hearing how someone else made a mistake and dwelling on it, instead of focussing on how they resolved their mistake…
- Perhaps an overbearing or paranoid person forced their paranoia upon the worker so that all confidence was completely undermined
- Think for a moment about the occupations I’ve listed above, and how if any one of these people makes a serious mistake, it could have a devastating outcome for all concerned. This can play on the person’s mind and then their fear transfers across to the fear of going to work, or doing the work. What if you were a surgeon and the scalpel slipped? Or one slip while defusing a bomb means the difference between your life or death…
Prevention is better than cure
By this I mean that if you have any influence over someone’s job, please ensure that you do more confidence-building than confidence-destroying of the person in the job. Parents often worry about perfection, instead of guiding a child calmly through mistakes and treating those errors as feedback instead of failure. Feedback allows us to correct our course and still retain our dignity. Telling someone they are a failure can mean that they don’t know how to correct the course of action or how to get over something because one’s focus and concentration can become centred on how bad they feel or how much went wrong, or how much they have let you down. Be sure to say something like “it’s okay; you were doing your best. Take a deep breath and think about what you could do differently next time?”
Everyone needs to learn resilience and the only way to do this is to make errors, get feedback and make corrections, with a calm detachment, and that needs to start as a child along with encouragement and praise.
There is no failure there is only feedback
Treatment for Fear of Work
- Firstly, a thorough assessment is necessary, as someone with a fear of work may also be suffering a generalised anxiety disorder, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. For all of these mental illnesses, relaxation training has been shown to be helpful, along with cognitive therapy where thought patterns can be modified to give a positive emotional impact.
- An incident may have occurred in the past and if it is in conscious memory, hypnosis may be the way to go to help resolve this phobia.
- Timeline Techniques may be useful along with the Trauma/Phobia technique, to rewrite the old movies of the past, and install new and positive movies and their positive sound track, for the future.
- For some people, they may change careers and some people would do this rather than address their fear of work.
Have you ever been locked in an enclosed or confined space? Or tried to find the light switch in a completely darkened room and felt that catch of anxiety grab you? If you have, then you will have an understanding or even an appreciation for sufferers of claustrophobia.
Claustrophobia - check this out
When someone has claustrophobia, there may be two fears present. One is a fear of restriction and the other is a fear of suffocation. Where there is a fear of restriction it means that the person fears or feels restricted in some way. For example, not being able to get out of a locked or moving vehicle such as a car, plane, train, bus or ferry may cause the person to begin to feel anxious or panicky. As panic increases, the fear of suffocation may occur as the person feels as though they will run out of air.
Some people have even been known to start tearing their clothes off in the desperate bid for more air, thinking that this will help when it makes no difference at all to the level of oxygen.
Or conversely, the person may fear suffocation and then the fear of restriction kicks in too. Sometimes it happens so quickly that the two fears are combined and present as one. The order of occurrence or co-occurrence of symptoms makes no difference to the person who is having the claustrophobic experience as it all simply feels terrible.
Take a look here: Overcoming Claustrophobia
Why do some people suffer Claustrophobia?
An estimated 13% of people suffer a Panic Attack while having an MRI
There are several reasons that have been suggested by researchers.
- One is that we all learn by example, so if a family member has had claustrophobia we may be more likely to suffer from this too.
- A childhood event could also be traumatic enough to generalise into claustrophobia, such as falling into a well, being locked in a trunk of a car, or a toy box, or even being shut into a closet or bedroom cupboard.
- Claustrophobia may develop if someone has been stuck in a lift, had a caving incident or been trapped in a mining cave-in. Some people suffer claustrophobia when in tunnels, cellars, subway stations or trains or buses, and an estimated 13% of people suffer a panic attack while having a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
- Those who have experienced a Panic Disorder have a smaller Amygdala on the right hand side. The Amygdala sends out nuclei electrical impulses to other nuclei which then influence the rate of respiration, physical arousal, adrenalin release, blood pressure, heart rate, and the “fight, flight or freeze” responses. The amygdala is part of the emotional processing system within the Limbic system.
Therapy for Claustrophobia
Have you ever been influenced by the ideas of another? Perhaps gone to the movies when you were going to stay home, or cooked something different than you had planned, maybe taken a vacation in a different part of the world than you had imagined? In a broad sense, you were hypnotized through the power of suggestion and when your friends or family suggest something that appeals to you and is emotionally appealing as well, you are more likely to respond and implement those ideas.
Hypnosis is a structured or unstructured process that proposes positive suggestions to be received by the subconscious mind. Generally, a deep state of relaxation is fostered which allows the individual to be open to alternative perspectives and ideas. As these constructive concepts are gently suggested to the client, the client will also hear and receive motivational boosters, and confidence-building affirmations. Homework may also be provided to help reinforce these new and emotionally gratifying concepts.
The new ideas that are introduced into the subconscious mind help the individual to generate healthier beliefs, values and positive habitual thinking patterns.
An individual who has been hypnotized may also experience other additional health benefits stress is reduced through the mind and body being calmer, more relaxed and at ease. Because hypnosis releases stress it also may alleviate anxiety.
When you are asleep and awakened by an unfamiliar sound, it is said that it is your subconscious that has been alerted to the sound. In the same way, when your mind has wandered off and someone is trying to get your attention, it may take a moment or three before you realise that you have not been ‘consciously aware’. In fact, your conscious mind was off somewhere else while your subconscious mind remained on standby and is then alerted to bring you back to conscious awareness.
Hypnotherapy is a safe, gentle and positive process that can be used by children, teenagers and adults and it is a process where you are still able to communicate with the therapist.
2. Cognitive Therapy
Research shows that about 30% of people respond to cognitive restructuring of their thoughts. To give you an example of this, if you had claustrophobia related to being in a lift, then the thought of walking 14 flights of stairs may be very unappealing from a couple of perspectives. I am writing this blog post from the 14th floor and the thought of walking up and down 14 flights of stairs in an enclosed stairwell by the way, does nothing for me.
I think of the waste of time, and those aching leg muscles at the end of every traverse of 14 flights of stairs and think, “give me the lift any time”!
Learning how to find more positives to something when you weigh it against the negatives is a really useful skill.
3. In Vivo Exposure
Exposure therapy (which comes from Behavioural Therapy) begins with lesser exposures and graduates progressively towards achieving the desired outcome in the desired situation. For example, stepping into an elevator may be a step towards eventually being able to have an MRI. Exposure therapy is also acknowledged by researchers as achieving good results for some clients.
If Claustrophobia is an issue, you might like to leave your suggestions that could help others, in the Comment section. Your thoughts on this issue are appreciated.
I have had some odd thoughts go through my mind of late, and one of which came about when I was cleaning out some cupboards and reflecting on the amount of junk that I seem to have accumulated. And honestly, I don’t want to face my garage. It has “STUFF” piled up that needs sorting into shredding, and dumping, and packing away (old files) into boxes or selling.
I was ruminating about how we acquire so much and such a lot of it is worthless, and yet, such a lot of it is worthwhile. I mean to say, surely I will need that roll of white paper again one day? It’s important to keep those old certificates isn’t it?
(No, never mind that they are years old and no-one is even interested because there is no accreditation connected to them; I should hang on to them in case one day, I want to show them to someone! This is where you need a good friend to say very loudly and firmly “SERIOUSLY? NO YOU DON’T NEED OR WANT THAT ANY MORE, JUST GET RID OF IT NOW.”)
LET IT GO?
The garage is rather like our innermost mind’s locked vault where we store thoughts, emotions, and memories that we’ve accumulated over our lifetime. And some of those can be quite depressing. And how many of those do we hang onto because:
b. we don’t know how to let them go, (I can help with this)
c. we cannot recognise the impact on us, so we haven’t bothered to sort them into positive impact and negative impact, to even recognise how it is affecting us.
So often, we are completely unaware that we are still receiving an impact because there is a blocking or gateway filter from our subconscious. We are not consciously aware of what’s going on deep inside the subconscious, and that filter makes it difficult to recognise we need to do the clean-out.
In the garage there are all those boxes of stuff that we have forgotten about and forgotten what the contents were, until we start trolling through it, like a trip down memory lane. Some of that trip invokes pleasant happy feelings, while others? Well, let’s not go there just yet.
Now I’m sure that you, like me, have things that can be recycled, sold on eBay or Gumtree, or at a GARAGE SALE!! Let’s see, there are two, not one, but two cat beds (Master will only sleep on my bed), a cat tunnel that he was disdainful of, some fishing gear, some camping gear, a fish tank stand minus the fish tank, a fold-up camping table, a squash racquet, various novels…. yes I’ll stop there before I embarass myself any further, oh and there’s the hutch for a desk and …alright I hear you I’ve stopped.
Which means that inside your mind, there are bound to be old things that you can shake out, dust off and THROW OUT, or simply repurpose them to a higher value. How can you do that with the stuff in your head? Well, unless you have a Stephen Spielberg creative streak those old ideas might not be worth anything…, and they might be. Ideas – get them out, write them down in a special book and decide what to do with them, and that empties that closet.
Next, what can you learn from the challenges, difficulties, sadness, mistakes, wrong-doings of the past? By learning what you will do or as Meatloaf so beautifully sings “…I just won’t do that”, you’ve learnt and that makes it okay to let go of the experiences and memories of the past that have been hindering you or holding you back, keeping you stuck in the past.
As one of my clients said about a long-ago and frightful experience, “I had no idea that I could think of myself as resourceful during that time, and you’re right, I was being resourceful.” She felt so much better afterwards because it was a real light-bulb moment for her. Isn’t that a wonderful example of re-purposing some old beliefs into a positive framework for your mind?
I’m going to put a challenge to you, (and sigh, that means me as well)…
Here’s the challenge: clean out that old stuff from the garage, or kitchen cupboards or the sideboard or the basement or attic and notice what happens inside of you… and your mind.
Physically, I’m betting that you will feel lighter and more energetic for it. Mentally, I’m betting that you will feel happier for it. Why? Doing physical activity is a complete reflection of doing internal mental activity. And in the case of physical junk in the garage, I think you have to do more than simply visualizing a clean garage. Or maybe not … Maybe visualise it all gone and don’t blame me if you get robbed.
Remember the old saying: everything out there is simply a reflection of everything in there.
So, here’s the question: will you take the challenge?
Let me know in your comments what you will clean out from your physical environment and let’s report back in 14 days from when you posted your comment. After you have done the challenge, repost what the effect has been on your mind, body and soul, let us know what happened. And of course, if you need a friend to help you clean out the dust and gunk from your mind, well then…
I think it is possible to clean out both mentally and physically (internally and externally) on a major scale and, well, that’s what I did recently when I cleared a mental pattern with the help of my beautiful friend Jennifer Peterson (Mob: 0412 111 038) from Mackay. That, however is the topic for another blog post another day.
Many people have been telling me, and not just my clients, that this has been the worst year of their life, they never want another year like this one, or, that nothing could be worse than this year that has been.
The reasons for their stress and angst are many and varied, so here’s a selection:
- Floods or droughts or fires caused devastation of home, jobs, and business
- The Global Financial Crisis is worsening and many business owners are becoming desperate and closing their doors. This affects staff, owners, and surrounding businesses as belts are tightened and spending decreases.
- Banks are foreclosing on mortgagees in arrears
- Bankruptcy is occurring at the rate of around 25,000 people a year
- Stress, emotional upheaval and relationship conflicts are triggered by these events, and of course they affect how you feel, your energy levels, and what you think of yourself or the judgements you make of others.
- Lots of relationship crises have impacted on couples, with affairs, marriage or partnership break-ups and break-down of family units on the rise.
- As this occurs, money tightens further and credit cards are pushed to the hilt, worsening the debt situation.
These events are a cause of stress reactions, so that the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin are pumped through your body, and when stress increases and is compounded, often on a daily basis, many people do not have the tools and resources to deal with their fluctuating emotions and inability to think clearly.
What’s Positive About It?
I’ve been encouraging my clients to look for what has been positive from these situations, to observe their strengths that have come to the fore, to focus on knowing that no matter what, you are a valuable and worthwhile human being who still deserves love, respect, acceptance and approval, because you are independent of these events.
Pride and Ego Down
The problem is that many people identify their self-worth through their achievements and accomplishments and without those achievements their self-esteem is knocked because pride and ego, take a beating.
Pride and Ego Build UP and UP and UP
It’s easy to see how that can start: you bring home a little certificate from school that says you were the most well-behaved kid in the class!
WOW! Everyone praises you and says you are wonderful.
You bring another one home that says you aced the spelling test!
WOW! Everyone praises you and says you are wonderful.
You bring a certificate home that says you came 1st in the running race! Or at swimming, or the cross-country or were Most Improved at Football!
WOW! Everyone praises you and says you are wonderful.
As these events occur all through your life, your identity becomes bound up with achievement and accomplishment. As one of my clients said, “I wish someone had told me I was worthwhile and lovable, just because I was me…”
What happens when suddenly you’ve lost your job, or your business closes, or your home has been flooded and the insurance won’t pay? If your self-esteem is tied to your accomplishments, (and let’s face it, for most people it is) then BAM! it takes a big hit, your pride is dented, and you may become more stressed, anxious and depressed.
This is one of the reasons that I am very focused on working with your Sub-conscious, (also known by me as your inner child) so that your inner child may begin to flourish without the need for achievements.
Positives on the Flip-side
Here are some positives that others have found when they focussed on the flip side of the situation, instead of the negatives:
- An inner strength and determination that they didn’t really know was there
- A sense of humour to laugh things off
- Creativity, bred by necessity (necessity is also known as the mother of invention)
- Self-discipline to stay focussed on a course of action
- Kindness for others less fortunate
- Gratitude for what you do have, starting with yourself and your family
- Learning new skills which opens doorways to new opportunities and also helps to rebuild confidence
- Love, both spiritual and personal
- Learnt how to meditate and take better care of themself.
I wonder what positives you can find if you go looking for them? These positives may help you to heal and move forward in peace into 2012.
I’d love to know, so please leave a comment, so others can benefit from your experience too. May you find the peace you so richly deserve in 2012.