Blenophobia (phobia of viscosity): symptoms, causes and treatment

Blenophobia is the persistent and intense fear of viscous textures. These textures include, for example, certain foods, body fluids and the skin of different animals. It is an undocumented experience and often mistaken for dislike.

In this article, we will see what blenophobia is, what conditions it must meet to be considered a specific phobia, and in which cases it can be considered aversion. Finally, we will see some treatments for each case.

    Blenophobia: fear of stickiness

    The term “bleno” is made up of the Greek “blennos”, which means “snot”, and “phobos” which means “phobia”. In this sense, blenophobia can be defined as a persistent and intense fear with mucous or viscous consistencies. To be considered a phobia, this fear must cause immediate and disproportionate anxiety; and it does not have to be justified by the cultural codes of the person (it is therefore considered an irrational fear).

    In addition, to be considered a phobia, this fear must significantly interfere with the person’s daily activities. In other words, the fear of being exposed to viscous textures would generate both symptoms of anxiety and a constant avoidance of this exposure.

    Some examples of textures referred to by blenophobia are the skin of a snail or fish, the consistency of an egg and raw meat, or its own body fluids and those of others. They all represent stimuli capable of developing a phobic fear.

    However, the fear of stickiness it has not been described by scientific literature as a specific phobia. This is already the case, although it is quite common for slimy textures to generate rejection, it is not so common for them to generate phobic fear.

    This rejection often produces significant aversion, but does not necessarily interfere with a person’s daily activities or trigger disproportionate anxiety reactions. In this sense, it is important to remember that not all aversions are phobias, but some phobias can be accompanied by different aversions.

    Phobia or aversion? main symptoms

    As we have seen previously, the main characteristic of specific phobias is an irrational, persistent and intense fear, which generates disproportionate anxiety responses. These responses occur before the activation of the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for regulating involuntary motor responses in our body. These include visceral activity, breathing, palpitations, among others.

    Thus, the response triggered by exposure to the stimulus caused by the phobia generates sweating, hyperventilation or suffocation, increased heart rate, Decreased gastrointestinal activity. And it sometimes causes nausea, dizziness, and panic attacks (the latter being more common in specific phobias related to the disease).

    In addition, this anxious response significantly interferes with the person’s life, because to avoid it, the person who experiences it generates avoidant and defensive behaviors. For example, avoid places or circumstances where the stimulus is present.

    On the other hand, specific phobias are considered as such in cases of fear and anxiety. they cannot be explained by other clinical pictures (Like obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or social phobia).

    In the case of blenophobia, it would be a question of avoiding contact with any viscous texture, under penalty of triggering significant anxiety. The latter should not be able to be explained by other means, for example, it should not be one of the manifestations of other diagnoses where there is a significant sensitivity to textures.

    On the other hand, an aversion can be defined as the strong repulsion to touch, try or listen to things, which most people are indifferent to or even find pleasant (Bados, 2005). They resemble phobias in which they produce discomfort and are generated in the face of specific stimuli.

    However, they differ in that the discomfort does not interfere with a person’s life and they are also different in general symptoms. Aversions cause chills, paleness, coldness, deep breathing, and sometimes nausea. Some of the most typical are precisely the aversions to textures.

    the main reasons

    The causes of specific phobias are mainly the following:

    • Have had direct or indirect negative experiences with stimuli that have a high probability of becoming phobic.
    • Have less positive experiences with the stimulus, Compared to negative experiences.
    • The severity and high frequency of negative experiences to which the person has been exposed, directly or indirectly.
    • Biological preparation (phobias are more easily triggered by stimuli that endanger biological integrity).
    • Waiting for danger this corresponds to the negative experience lived.
    • The means by which threatening information about the stimulus was transmitted
    • Going through a process of mistaken association or superstitious conditioning triggered by false alarms.

    For its part, aversions are generated by reinforcing the unpleasant sensations associated with the stimulus, Accompanied by a constant reinforcement of the preventive behaviors linked to this. Although they usually do not significantly affect a person’s life, they can lead to constant avoidance behaviors which in extreme cases could lead, for example, to avoiding the same food under all circumstances. .


    The most commonly used psychological treatments for specific phobias are live exposure, participant model, cognitive restructuring, introspective exploration, imaginative exposure, relaxation techniques, systematic desensitization, and modeling. The latter is particularly useful in children and when it is necessary to teach different skills.

    For their part, aversions generally decrease without the need for treatment, however in extreme cases, graduated exposure can be used which allows a non-aversive approach to the stimulus.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Bados, A. (2005). Specific phobias. Faculty of Psychology. Department of Personality, Psychological Assessment and Treatment. University of Barcelona. Accessed September 26, 2018.Available at
    • Blenophobia (2018). Accessed September 25, 2018.Available at
    • Etymology of BLENO (2018). Accessed September 25, 2018.Available at

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