What is meant by non-contact contamination fears?
Let me describe contact-contamination fears first. Let’s suppose you have an aversion to shaking hands with people. Now let’s assume the fear is that you’ll catch a disease and spread germs. After shaking hands, you might first use anti-bacterial wipes followed by a prolonged handwashing ritual. You can see how it produces a feeling of discomfort in response to physical contact. Non-contact contamination OCD, on the other hand, is when a triggering stimulus takes place through human interaction without touching.
What Causes Non-Contact OCD?
Non-contact contamination fears, also known as mental or emotional contamination OCD, can be linked to an unpleasant memory or event. When predisposed to OCD, this can, but not always, be the environmental onset for developing the disorder. For example, as a small child, “Sarah” shared a toilet cubicle with her “aunt”. On seeing she was menstruating and not understanding what it was, she remembers being horrified. After her first menstrual cycle, she developed an aversion towards women.
Can someone have emotional and contact contamination fears together?
Yes, “Sam” struggles with coming into contact with germs by touching door handles and also being close to the private area of others, even when they’re clothed, which is non-contact contamination fears.
Why would someone’s emotional contamination fears be focused on the private areas of others?
Well, Sam, for example, was on the verge of reaching puberty when he acquired OCD. Having to reluctantly sit in sex-education classes reinforced to him that his body was changing. Yet, emotionally, he hadn’t reached the stage for grasping the concept of what was involved in the topics discussed (e.g., relationships, birth control and sexually transmitted diseases – STDs).
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My colleague, Sunil Punjabi, is a confident therapist and highly recommended for his expert approach in delivering exposure-response prevention for contact and non-contact contamination fears among other variations of OCD. He does call and skype and offers a sliding scale. Ask for more details here.