Fear of women (ginephobia): causes, symptoms and treatment

Ginephobia or fear of women is a strange phobia that usually occurs in men (Although it can affect women as well) and therefore is an irrational fear of anyone who is female. This pathology, which causes great discomfort, anxiety and fear, should not be confused with misogyny, which is the hatred of women.

In this article, we will talk about ginephobia and detail the most important aspects of this phobic disorder, along with its causes, symptoms and treatment.

Ginephobia: what is it

Phobias are anxiety disorders that are characterized by the fact that people who suffer from them feel a great fear of a stimulus that they are trying to avoid to reduce the discomfort. There are different types of phobias, which are generally grouped into three groups: social phobia, agoraphobia, and specific phobia. Fear of women belongs to the latter group and can prevent phobics from having any kind of relationship with women., Even intimate relationships and therefore unable to develop an intimate relationship or a plan to form a family.

Ginephobia can cause serious relationship problems which can affect different areas of people’s lives as the phobic will avoid any place they might be in the phobic stimulus, usually by recruiting from home, avoiding not going to work or take public transport. It is a serious disorder that must be treated.

Causes of this disorder

The causes of this phenomenon can be varied. Sometimes the subject’s low self-esteem causes them to be afraid of women, other times it can be the result of bad experiences in intimate relationships with them or a consequence of irrational beliefs, such as women want to hurt and are inherently bad.

However, in most cases traumatic experiences from the past are the root cause of this disorder, so they are usually developed through a type of associative learning called classical conditioning. This type of learning is primitive, and although the first person to study it was Ivan Pavlov, the term gained popularity thanks to John B. Watson, one of the creators of one of the most important currents in the world. psychology: behaviorism.

Watson was the first to study classical conditioning and phobias in humans. One of the hallmarks of this type of learning is that it involves automatic responses or reflexes, not voluntary behaviors, so Watson thought it possible to learn negative emotions, such as fear, through this process. To do this, he performed one of the most controversial experiments in the history of psychology, as it led a child, named Albert, to learn to be afraid of a white rat he previously loved to play with. Watson succeeded; however, this experiment could not be conducted at this time as it is considered unethical.

You can delve into classical conditioning and Watson’s experiment in our article: “Classical conditioning and its most important experiments”

Are we biologically programmed to suffer from phobias?

Researchers believe that classical conditioning is not the only cause of phobias, as many people learn this type of fear through observation, it is called vicarious conditioning which is not the same thing. than imitation learning (as we explain in our article “Vicarious Conditioning: How Does This Type of Learning Work?”).

In addition, other authors believe that we are biologically predisposed to phobias.Because fear is a negative emotion that has been very useful in the past because it has enabled human survival. This type of learning activates the regions of the brain that belong to what is called the primitive brain, so it is characterized by primitive and non-cognitive associations. In other words, these fears are difficult to change with logical arguments. This idea stems from Martin Seligman’s preparation theory.

Symptoms of fear in women

Like other specific phobic disorders, fear in women presents a similar symptomatology. The only difference is that the phobic stimulus that causes it is different. Therefore, anxiety, discomfort, and fear manifest in the presence of this stimulus, leading the person to want to avoid it to reduce symptoms.

These symptoms occur at three levels: cognitive, behavioral and physical. Cognitive symptoms are fear, anxiety, confusion, and difficulty maintaining attention, as well as the person’s irrational thoughts. Avoidance is the most characteristic behavioral symptom. Physical symptoms include: hot flashes. difficulty breathing, nausea, sweating, tremors, etc.


Phobias cause a lot of suffering; however, they have a high success rate when treatment includes psychological therapy. In some severe cases, patients receive pharmacological treatment, especially anxiolytics, however the basis of treatment should include psychotherapy so that the improvement persists over time.

Psychologists who are experts in treating phobias often include cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that have been shown to be more effective, according to scientific studies. These include relaxation techniques and exposure techniques.

The two techniques are combined in a therapeutic method known as systematic desensitization, which consists in gradually exposing the patient to the phobic stimulus, but before that he must have learned the relaxation techniques, because they will allow him to better cope with the situations in which he must face his pathological fear. If you are interested in learning more about this technique, you might want to read our article “What is systematic desensitization and how does it work?”

Despite the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy in treating these types of disorders, other methods have also been shown to be useful. These are known as contextual or third-generation therapies, including acceptance and engagement therapy and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which take into account how the context (and relationship of the patient with him) influences the “ time taken to develop the pathology, and emphasizes the acceptance of the experience as a means of reducing anxiety symptoms and therefore reducing discomfort.

Differences between ginephobia, misogynia and calliginephobia

It is important not to confuse ginephobia and calliginephobia, Which is characterized by the fact that the man, usually due to his low self-esteem, feels intimidated by the beauty of the woman. It is also important not to confuse ginephobia with misogyny, which is a type of prejudice in which the person feels hatred towards females.

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