Taijin kyofusho (phobia of being a nuisance): symptoms and treatment

Communicating with our fellow human beings is a very important thing for human beings, being in fact one of the bases which allowed the development and evolution of our species. It is a complex thing which is subject to interpretation by both words and deeds, and which can sometimes be judged.

Sometimes fears or even phobias in this sense may appear, some of them being influenced by the specific mentality of certain cultures and groups. This is the case with the syndrome known as taijin kyofusho, Which we will discuss below.

    Taijin kyofusho: What is this mental disorder?

    It is called taijin kyofusho an alteration or psychological state characterized by the presence of a disproportionate and irrational fear that our own acts of communication, our body or physiological reactions are noticed, judged and viewed as uncomfortable or boring by other people.

    It is a type of phobia very similar to social phobia, which until recently it was considered a cultural syndrome of Japan and to a lesser extent of Korea. However, it has now been observed that there are similar alterations in other parts of the world and that some of their variations may correspond to other problems.


    The possibility that other people feel uncomfortable or uncomfortable with different aspects of meeting or our interaction with them generates a very high level of panic and anxiety, Which can also cause physiological reactions such as tachycardia, hyperventilation, sweating, nausea and vomiting. It also generally generates avoidance of contact with others, or the use of mechanisms such as masks to avoid exposure of aspects such as breathing or smiling.


    Taiji kyofusho is a general concept that encompasses the fear that our exposure to society may be a nuisance, but generally includes four much more specific sub-categories.

    1. Sekimen-kyofu

    This term refers to the phobia a turn red in public and make it a little awkward for the others.

    2. Shubo-kyofu

    In this case, the phobia is related to the perception of one’s own body as something distorted or to dissatisfaction with one’s own body: it is the phobia that the vision of our body or our figure is annoying. or uncomfortable.

    3. Jikoshisen-kyofu

    This phobia refers to the phobia of maintaining eye contact, which generates panic at the idea of ​​the discomfort it can represent.

    4. Jikoshu-kyofu

    Body odor in this case is the stimulus that generates panic anxiety, or rather the idea that it can cause discomfort in others.

    Difference from conventional social phobia

    The truth is that taijin kyofusho could be considered a variant of social phobiaAs they are deeply connected and based on the panic of being socially exposed.

    However, certain nuances make us speak more of a differentiated variant: in social phobia, panic is to be judged negatively while in this variant of fear is more linked to being a nuisance for others.

    They may also find typical components that could be identified with other phobias such as erythrophobia.

    Causes of this alteration

    The causes of taijin kyofusho syndrome are not yet fully understood, especially given its specificity until recently.

    However, as a variant of social phobia, it is possible to make assumptions in this regard. It is considered that it can be product of previous traumatic experiences during early development and socialization, May be the subject reprimanded or marginalized for all of the above (especially by parents, partners or circles of friends or in general by very important people), for viewing themselves as inadequate or incompetent with low self-esteem self or for observing how someone judged by some of the phobic stimuli mentioned.

    It is also associated with a lack or limitation of possibilities for normative social interaction. She is also associated with shy and inhibited, or extremely self-controlled, personalities.

    The reason why taijin kyofusho is so relatively common in Japan and Korea, and has in fact led to its consideration as a culture-dependent syndrome, is due to the type of thinking and mentality inherent in these cultures. In fact, it has been observed higher prevalence in collectivist cultures like those already mentioned, because in them there is a much greater tendency than in individualists to generate personal identity on the basis of social consideration.

    It can also be derived from the high level of social demand maintained by societies like Japan, with very high demands and expectations for all citizens.


    Taiji kyofusho is a phobic type problem which, like other phobias, can be treated.

    We must first analyze which stimuli generate fear, the meaning that the subject gives it, when the phobia was born and why the person who appeared believes in it. It would also be necessary to assess the contexts in which it usually appears, if there are any in which it does not appear and the difficulties it generates in the person on a daily basis. What importance is also given to socialization, what it would mean to be a nuisance to others or why he thinks it might be.

    That being said, one of the most common therapies is Exposure therapy, In which little by little and in a graduated way the subject is exposed to a series of situations in order to face the anxiety. First, an exposure hierarchy would be established with the patient and gradually the exposures would be made, performing each item until in at least two successive exposures the anxiety was significantly reduced before moving on to the next.

    At the same time, the set of beliefs about oneself, the society or how to interact with it could be worked through techniques such as cognitive restructuring. The goal would be to generate more adaptive interpretations of reality than the originals, linked to the idea of ​​the negative effects of one’s own presence on others. It would also be necessary try to reduce self-esteem and the importance given to the expectations considered is incumbent on us.

    In severe cases, it may require the use of pharmacological treatment, in order to decrease the level of anxiety while learning to manage it.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Suzuki, K., Takei, N., Kawai, M., Minabe, Y. and Mori, N. (2003). Is Taijin Kyofusho a Culture Syndrome? American Journals Bureau of Psychiatry.
    • Takahaski, T. (1989). Social phobia syndrome in Japan. Buy Psychiatry, 30: 45-52.
    • Vriends, N., Pfaltz, MC, Novianti, P. and Hadiyono, J. (2013). Taijin Kyofusho and social anxiety and its clinical relevance in Indonesia and Switzerland. Front Psychol. 2013; 4: 3

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