Some of us are afraid of heights, some of us are afraid of spiders or snakes, and some of us have common social fears, such as loneliness or rejection. But there are people who suffer from more unusual, and potentially debilitating phobias. One of them is caligynephobia, a rare and bizarre condition which makes those who suffer from it irrationally afraid of beautiful women.
What triggers this phobia? It usually appears as consequence of a trauma in which a beautiful woman was involved. The traumatic event can stem from childhood, involving abuse, verbal, physical or sexual, but it can also occur at a later age, caused by heartbreak or abandonment from a beautiful woman.
A sense of insecurity, the lack of self-esteem and positive body image can also lead to an inferiority complex towards beautiful women, who will be perceived as a menace, as the source of evil. As any phobia, the fear of beautiful women is created in the unconscious mind, as a defense mechanism, which is why they are so difficult to control and overcome.
The symptoms vary in intensity and from one individual to another. In some cases it can be manifested through anxiety, extreme shyness and difficulty in speaking and making eye contact in, but in extreme cases, the patient suffers panic attacks in the presence of a beautiful woman. These attacks present with crises of extreme fear, fight or flight instincts, the imminent sensation of death, sweat, respiratory difficulties and chest pain.
Due to the nature of the symptoms, people with extreme forms of caligynephobia have difficulties adapting in society and leading a normal life. Social environments, such as school or the workplace pose serious issues, and so do social gatherings and events, because they are usually packed with attractive women. People suffering from this condition thus become reclusive and isolated and have a hard time forming romantic relationships.
The treatment is different from one person to another and it relies on sedatives and antianxiety medication, gradual exposure to triggers and cognitive-behavior therapy which helps the person learn how to react to fear. It is also essential for the patient to participate in group therapy and engage in activities designed to build up confidence and self-esteem.