One of the most striking trends of recent times is the beard, which has caused many men to leave it due to its aesthetic appearance. Some studies suggest that bearded men are considered more attractive and that for some women it may even be a fetish. The disproportionate attraction to the beard is called pogonophilia.
However, not everyone thinks that beards are stylish and some people can even develop a disorder called “pogonophobia”, The irrational fear of the beard. In this article, we will review some features of this pathology and talk about its causes, symptoms and consequences.
What is the fear of beards
The beard has been the symbol that characterizes masculinity. Over the centuries, she has represented many male virtues, including wisdom, strength, high social status, and even sexual dexterity, especially in warrior cultures. However, it also represents a phobic object.
There are many types of phobia, but few attract attention in the same way as facial hair phobia, which refers to the irrational fear some people have towards the beard.. especially towards the longest and most populated. This phobia was discovered in 1851, and the etymological origin of the word can be found in ancient Greece, as “Pogon” means beard and “phobos” means fear. Phobias are anxiety disorders that cause anxiety symptoms in the presence of bearded men.
Causes of pogonophobia
The reasons why a person does not like a beard are very varied. For example, some people associate a beard with men who take little care of themselves and can also be dirty. Other subjects link facial hair to religious bigotry. In other cases, the beard can be suspicious or it can be seen as old-fashioned or old-fashioned.
However, pogonophobia is a phobic disorder, and therefore a serious condition, which usually has its origin in classical conditioning. In other words, it is associative learning, which usually occurs after a traumatic experience.
The first experiments on human phobias were conducted in the 1920s, when American psychologist John B. Watson and his assistant Rosalie Rayner made babies fear the white rats they previously liked.
- You can read more about these studies in our article: “Classical conditioning and its most important experiments”
Other causes of this phobia
However, the traumatic experiences undergone by an individual are not the only reason for the origin of this phobia; but observation can lead to its development. This is called proxy conditioning, when an individual observes another person’s reactions to a stimulus relevant to the subject as well as to the observer. If you would like to explore this topic further, you can read our article: “Vicarious conditioning: how does this type of learning work?” find out more.
In addition to the scholarly origin of phobias, some authors claim that they have a biological origin, and that humans are more likely to develop these pathologies because fear is an emotion that develops through primitive and non-cognitive associations, i.e. that is, in the primitive brain and not in the neocortex, so it does not respond to logical arguments. This would explain why phobics have serious difficulty overcoming this pathology when they know they are suffering from this disorder..
Symptoms of beard phobia
This phobia affects the quality of life of people who suffer from it. While some pogonophobes are only afraid of mustaches, others suffer from beard phobia. People with this phobia experience symptoms that can be cognitive, behavioral, and physical.
Cognitive symptoms include fear, anxiety, confusion, and lack of concentration. Subjects with pogonophobia generally avoid the dreaded stimulus, which would refer to a behavioral symptom. Some of the physical symptoms are: hyperventilation, sweating and rapid pulse tremors, nausea and vomiting, and dry mouth.
As with other phobias, pogonophobia can be treated. Psychotherapy has been shown to be very effective, according to a lot of research.
There are different treatments depending on the orientation of the therapist. One of the most effective is cognitive behavioral intervention, which typically includes relaxation techniques and exposure techniques.
The purpose of the latter technique is to gradually expose the person to the feared stimulus, in this case the beard, until it causes fear or anxiety. Doing this gradually involves starting treatment with exposure to stimuli that cause less discomfort, for example seeing a photo of a person with little facial hair. The goal is to achieve the most dreaded, for example, touching a person’s populated beard.
In this way, the person is able to verify for himself that he is not in danger in the face of these situations, and so little by little the fear disappears and we learn that the beard is not synonymous with danger.
This technique is similar to the previous one, but the patient also learns coping strategies, for example, breathing and relaxation techniques that lead to a decrease in the level of activation. Treatment is carried out up to the degree of anxiety and discomfort has completely diminished.