Irrational fears that cause severe anxiety and impede people from functioning normally are known as specific phobias. One such phobia is venustraphobia, the fear of beautiful women. There is little evidence-based research to confirm that venustraphobia is a real condition or that there exists a community of people who even admit to experiencing symptoms, as is the case with the fear of snakes. While there are indications that this condition is actually a hoax, it is reasonable to assume that some people may experience severe anxiety around women that they find beautiful, thus impacting their ability to function normally.
Fear is a healthy emotion that is inherently designed to protect us. Our bodies excrete various hormones to alert us to danger or threat and to help us make choices that lead us to safety. The problem is that sometimes these hormones send fear signals at times when we do not need to be fearful, thus leading to irrational fears that can interfere with our daily lives.
Possible Symptoms of Venustraphobia
To qualify as suffering from venustraphobia, one would need to experience the typical symptoms of specific phobias when thinking about, viewing, or in the presence of beautiful women including:
- Difficulty functioning
- Intense fear
- Rapid heartbeat
Causes of Venustraphobia
As children progress into adolescence and then into adulthood, one of the main developmental milestones that they achieve is developing romantic and sexual interests and impulses and learning how to navigate and manage them. A large part of that navigation involves learning how to meet and entice potential mates into romantic experiences with them. To do this, a person needs to exhibit desirable qualities, whether or be attractive looks, personality, or some other characteristic that causes another person to be interested in spending time with them and possibly developing an intimate relationship with them down the line.
Many people who struggle with self-esteem issues or social skills deficits may find it difficult to exhibit the qualities that attract others romantically. Whether they do not feel confident in who they are express that both directly and indirectly, or if they present in awkward or uncomfortable ways and they don’t have any insight into it, these presentations can make it difficult for them to have positive experiences with potential romantic partners.
If experiencing rejection based on these struggles is a common theme throughout a person’s life, they could develop anxiety or fear around people to whom they are attracted. This could cause a person to develop strategies used to avoid being in situations where they need to interact with attractive women, and they could develop an intense fear surrounding situations where attractive women may be.
While this is very plausible, it doesn’t necessarily meet the criteria of a specific phobia, instead, it is more a symptom of either depression, anxiety, or even a traumatic experience.
Coping with Venustraphobia
Therapists treating specific phobias typically recommend engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy or exposure therapy. If one is experiencing significant impairment in their social life, occupational life, or overall health as a result of having severe anxiety around women, seeking support from a trained mental health professional can help them to improve their quality of life.
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- Pull C. B. (2008). Recent trends in the study of specific phobias. Current opinion in psychiatry, 21(1), 43–50. https://doi.org/10.1097/YCO.0b013e3282f30086