The ‘Koumpounophobia ‘ is a phobia strange, but it exists. It is explained, basically, as the irrational and persistent fear of buttons. Derived from Latin ‘Koumpouno ‘, which means buttons, and from the Greek ‘phobos’, which means fear. It is closely related to the fear of round or circular objects O fear of holes (tripophobia).
A phobia it is a type of anxiety disorder that occurs when faced with certain situations or objects. It is a strong and irrational fear of something that does not present a real danger. It is not a simple aversion (these usually make people who suffer from it uncomfortable, but rarely seriously interfere with life) but generates great problems in the performance of daily life, and its symptoms affect both emotionally and physically.
People who have this’koumpounophobia ‘ (affects 1 in 75,000) tend to avoid wearing button-down clothing, and switch to clothing with a zipper, velcro, or other type of closure. Although sometimes the phobia goes further.
This disorder occurs in different degrees, but those who suffer from it intensely can see their life and daily performance totally conditioned. For example, Alaska He has recognized on more than one occasion that he suffers from ‘koumpounofobia’ since his earliest childhood, and that even thinking or talking about it causes tension.
“I’m sorry, but it is a topic … I can not talk about thatIt seems that since I was a baby and in my arms I already had problems “, assures the singer of Fangoria, who gets nervous just hearing the word.
What Alaska says may seem exaggerated but it is not; the ‘button phobia’ often affects children, and the problem can persist into adulthood. “I complained when my mother tried to dress me in a frog or a button-down bodysuit, she wouldn’t stop until I took it off and I would have tremendous tantrums when a friend of hers who always wore buttoned shirts approached me”, Alaska tells in one of his speeches in Zero Wave, the radio where he collaborates.
Although the prevalence of ‘koumpounophobia’ is low, Alaska is not the only person who has wanted to share his disorder. Both in the networks and in the international press it has been talked about. Steve Jobs revealed to Wall Street Journal who suffered from it; Many of us understood then the obsession for those black turtlenecks of the co-founder of Apple. His phobia extended well beyond clothing buttons, and ironically set the stage for what was arguably the company’s most notable success: touch screen phones and tablets.
More recent is the story of the Argentine model Giuliana Caramuto, with a phobia of four-hole buttons, posted by Filo News: “As a baby I reacted strangely to buttons. My mother told me, for example, that when she gave me the breast, if she was wearing a button-down shirt, I would cry and I didn’t want to drink and she didn’t understand why.”
Or the case of British teenager Hanna. “My mother says it scared me when it was time to get ready for school. I would scream, cry, and as I got older, I would start to have panic attacks when I was faced with the prospect of touching and getting ready.”
“Obviously I know a button can’t hurt me, but there’s something about the shape and texture that scares me. It’s an irrational fear.” It seems that Mathews has finally been able to overcome it.
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The reactions that ‘koumpounophobia’ causes are usually uncontrollable, automatic and totally involuntary, to the point that the emotions it causes can take control of a person’s thoughts. Just seeing them, talking about them, or even imagining them can trigger numerous symptoms.
“You develop an ability not to look. For example, in the cinema, with the big screen, I have to look away “, Alaska account. This is known as ‘avoidance strategies or routines’, more or less sophisticated, whatever to avoid that dreaded interaction with the buttons.
Physical reactions to ‘button phobia’ are so intense ranging from the “my stomach hurts and I sweat” to feel “chills and dizziness”, and may include palpitations or rapid heart beat, shortness of breath, tremors, nausea, dry mouth, inability to speak or think, gastrointestinal upset, and a ‘crushing’ desire to escape. In fact, any interaction or sight of buttons can induce an anxiety attack.
Freaking out or losing control seeing even a single button are other consequences. What’s more, many people with ‘koumpounophobia’ refuse to attend social events like weddings or proms, as there are other guests who wear tuxedos or button-down coats. Some people wash their hands repeatedly after touching buttons without knowing it. And in extreme cases, they are even afraid to write the word “buttons” or say it out loud. Talking about buttons can make them hysterical or make them cry or scream.
When we talk about phobias as specific as ‘koumpounophobia’, there is no single cause explain them. Button phobia usually arises from a combination of factors.
Some koumpounphobics are afraid of pearls or, in general, of all kinds of circular objects. This would have an explanation: the phobia of buttons can be evolutionary as the fear of all circular objects. LScientists believe that man has always been afraid of circular objects such as holes, as they resemble rashes or pits that contain the unknown.
There have even been films about it, such as the adaptation of the horror novel ‘Coraline’ by Neil Gaiman, where the protagonist discovers a parallel world with sinister characters who had buttons instead of eyes. Coraline develops ‘koumpounophobia’ because her eyes, which would otherwise be gateways to the soul, in this case turn into empty, black pools.
Another theory points to the existence of a genetic predisposition, that would play a role in this kind of emotion. Psychologists believe that this phobia may be the result of genetic susceptibility as well as environmental and social factors. A person who has family members with a button phobia has a higher risk of developing this disorder. In addition, the mutation in certain genes can predispose the person to develop a series of emotional disorders, among which are specific phobias. However, not everyone with a genetic predisposition is prone to ‘koumpounophobia’.
As with other irrational fears and phobias, the fear of buttons can also be related to a traumatic or negative childhood experience. Certain incidents or events may have triggered the phobia in childhood, an event that one may not even remember.
For example, if a bucket of buttons falls on your head at the age of two, or that due to the inability to fasten them, you have been the victim of teasing by other children at school. Some children may have inhaled or choked them, leaving them with a lifelong fear of buttons. Child abuse or neglect by someone wearing button-down clothing can also trigger the phobia.
The treatments against ‘koumpounophobia’ tend to focus on the childhood trauma that could have precipitated it. Talking about it is the first step towards healing. Cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy (including virtual reality) are other effective ways to overcome button phobia.
On the one hand, it seeks to change negative responses to positive ones, rationalizing one’s own thoughts of fear and making them positive. And on the other, when facing the objects that generate that fear, it will be possible to desensitize and change the perception of them. Family and friends should be supportive of the ‘patient’ rather than harassing or teasing him. Self-help groups are especially recommended as they can relieve the ‘sick’ by realizing that they are not alone and seeing that others suffer the same.
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