Phobias are quite commonplace and, indeed, they affect approximately one in 10 people. However, most people hide their phobia rather than seek help to recover from their fear. In a recent article in the Surrey Comet, one 25 year old student avoids alcohol and always leaves a party early, because she has had a fear of vomit since she was aged five. Thanks to this phobia, she also refuses to eat out in case of food poisoning and will not go anywhere where somebody might throw up, such as the local pub. She told the paper:
“I realised I had the phobia after an incident at school. A child was sick, and then another was. I started to panic and they took me outside. I didn’t understand why I was so frightened. But every time from then on I would panic. I started to hyperventilate and sweat. I would feel I had to get out. Now I try to avoid social situations where people might be sick. Even seeing it on screen at a cinema can make me feel very nervous.”
This phobia has had a real effect on her life. The nameless student is too embarrassed to tell boyfriends and relationships do not last long because she is so closed. This story might sound surprising and yet it is not uncommon. A vomit phobia is not that unusual although, for the sufferer, it can feel like they are the only person in the world with this condition.
Therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or hypnotherapy have been known to cure phobias even as extreme as this in just one or two sessions, although sometimes a little longer is required for severe cases.