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Mysophobia is a term used to describe a pathological fear of germs. Someone who has such a fear is often referred to as a "mysophobe". The person's fear is often, but not always, related to obsessive compulsive disorder. This phobia is sometimes referred to as germaphobia (or germophobia), a combination of germ and phobia to mean fear of germs, as well as bacillophobia and bacterophobia.
Characteristics of mysophobia
- Obsessive washing, such as repeated handwashing.
- Avoidance of activities that involve uncleanliness.
- Unwillingness to share food, utensils, and other personal items.
- Reluctance toward engagement in social situations that which may involve close groups of people or animals.
- Unwillingness to touch doorknobs directly.
In the case of obsessive cleanliness, the mysophobe may repeatedly wash an area of skin to a point at which the skin becomes damaged. This will in fact make the person even more prone to infection.
Social problems are not uncommon for such individuals, who may be teased or made fun of for their situation. They may feel as though they are being avoided or ridiculed. They may even be accused of being paranoid.
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