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Did You Know?
Sean P. Diddy, the famous rap star, is scared of toes, especially if the middle toe is longer than the big toe. According to him, when on a date, it is mandatory for him to see his date's feet, and especially her middle toe.
We all have our fears and anxieties, some fears may be common and rational, while some may seem unreasonable and even weird. To most of us, the fear of feet or podophobia might sound strange; however, this phobia does exist, and is more common than you may have anticipated. The word podophobia is derived from two Greek words, 'podos', meaning feet, and 'phobos' meaning fear. People with podophobia tend to get really upset and offended at the sight of feet. In extreme cases, people are not comfortable to even look at their own feet, and that's why some people prefer wearing socks, even while taking a shower. Different people experience this phobia differently, some people cringe when they even see images of feet, some don't like to see other people's feet, or when somebody tries to touch their feet. Some are anxious and nervous when somebody talks about feet.

It has been stated that this phobia, if left untreated, can become extremely illogical, and can affect a person's mental well-being. The fear can have several side effects like many people don't wear sandals, or prefer wearing socks all the time, and they stop visiting shoe stores. Individuals who face this phobia do not like the sight of feet, or the touch or feel of feet, because they find feet disgusting and gross.

In the following sections, we will learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for podophobia.

Why Do Some People Fear Feet?

There has been very little research about this psychological condition; nevertheless, podophobics (people suffering from podophobia) can relate to many such incidents, which actually causes distress and anxiety, and that's how they developed this fear. As is the case with all other phobias, this phobia finds its roots and causes in some childhood trauma regarding feet, or maybe, some negative experience in the past, which may have helped triggered this fear in that individual's mind. For a third person, these reasons might be silly or dumb, but it actually affects the person suffering from it to a great extent.

Some experts believe that it may be inherited or have genetic causes. People who tend to be overly anxious, or are highly strung, may possibly acquire podophobia.

Signs and Symptoms

Podophobia tends to persist for longer periods, and the sufferer may experience many physical or psychological symptoms. They are aware that feet are not dangerous and can in no way harm them, but they are absolutely powerless to overcome their fear. The following are the signs and symptoms experienced by a podophobe.

Shortness of breath at the sight of or thought of feet.
Accelerated heartbeat
Extreme anxiety issues
Body trembling
Refuse to discuss feet or even topics related to them.
Sweating profusely
Dizziness
Nausea
Covering their feet or requesting others to cover their feet.
Fear of other people touching their feet
Panic attacks
Feeling petrified at the sight of feet, even on television.

These are some physiological symptoms that podophobia brings about. The symptoms and their intensity vary from person to person. The phobic individual may withdraw from his surrounding, because it affects his social life and relationships profoundly.

How to Make a Podophobe Comfortable

Do not, in any case, remove your socks around him/her.
Do not wave your feet in their face, he may take offensive, and in an extreme case may turn aggressive or violent.
Make sure to cover your feet, or move your legs away, if you sit besides them.
Don't clip your toenails in front of him, it may creep him out even more.
Don't discuss topics about feet in front of him, or with him.
Try to understand the individual's situation, and help him/her overcome his fear patiently, by being considerate.

How to Overcome the Fear of Feet

In most cases, since the fear of feet is likely to hamper a podophobe's daily routine, to get rid of their fear, positive thinking or facing up to their fear can work. Though, this may require consistent effort and patience. In rare, extreme cases, seeking medical help is beneficial. To summarize, the treatment approach includes the following:

1. Various Therapies
To get rid of the fear, you may have to dig deeper to get to the root cause of the phobia. This can be done through cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, counseling, hypnotherapy, professional advice, self-help books, or the combination of the above. Medication and meditation are also considered to be effective in reducing panic attacks and other anxiety problems caused due to podophobia.

2. Systematic Desensitization
Another effective method is when therapists try to slowly and gradually persuade patients to open up and face their fear. They may start with talking and interacting with the individual, this way, they can easily understand the individual's fear and problems, and this helps to find out the root cause of the fear. The therapists start showing the patient pictures about feet, be it on television, magazines, etc., note his/her reaction, and try to calm him/her down. This is followed by gradual exposure to the sight and touch of his and other people's feet. Podophobics are also encouraged to go for pedicures, as this might help them to get over their feet phobia.

It's just like any other phobia, and, should be definitely respected. You wouldn't throw a cockroach on someone with katsaridaphobia (fear of roaches), or make somebody sit in the dark if they have nyctophobia (fear of the dark), try to respect their situation and be considerate You can overcome podophobia, or help your friends or family with patience and positive thoughts.

Do you have podophobia?

Yes
No