Behavioral expert Rocio Moustafa explores blood and injury phobias among those employed in the medical field.
A concern among many in the medical field, hemophobia represents an extreme fear of blood, responsible for causing severe physical reactions uncommon in many other phobias, including vasovagal syncope, or fainting spells. Here, mood, cognition, and perception specialist Rocio Moustafa from Ventura, California reveal more about the struggle faced by medical professionals plagued with this and similar phobias.
“Hemophobia, or so-called ‘blood phobia,’ is an extreme and often largely irrational fear of blood,” explains Moustafa. However, unlike many phobias which have no physical symptoms and are wholly psychological, hemophobia regularly causes fainting, known in medical circles as vasovagal syncope, according to the Ventura, California-based behavioral expert.
“This can pose a significant problem for those in the medical field who suffer from a phobia of blood,” adds Moustafa.
One of a number of similar fears, hemophobia is closely tied to traumatophobia or an abnormal, pathological fear of sustaining an injury. Also resulting in fainting spells, traumatophobia is classified as a mental disorder by the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, originally published in 1994.
“The term ‘injury phobia’ or, more formally, traumatophobia may be used to encompass similarly or related fears, including hemophobia or a specific fear of blood,” points out Moustafa, adding that the condition may be centered around one or more phobia types including injury, blood, or injections, for example.
Rocio Moustafa Doesn’t Mind Blood Like Many Others
While many individuals may harbor a general dislike of blood or injections, or rational fear of serious injury, an abnormal or pathological fear may not become apparent in day-to-day life. “As such, hemophobia, traumatophobia, and other related fears may only become fully apparent when an individual finds themselves thrust into close proximity to blood or serious injuries,” explains Moustafa, “such as when entering medical training or practice.”
Causing a drop in blood pressure, in contrast to many other phobias which cause the heart rate and thus blood pressure to rise, a fear of blood or injury, in addition to causing fainting, may also lead to anticipatory anxiety, responsible for extreme shaking and gastrointestinal distress. These symptoms may become apparent upon sight of—or contact with—blood, or in the hours or days prior to an anticipated encounter with either blood or some form of injury, including giving or receiving an injection or injections.
“Accordingly, specific phobias such as a fear of blood or injury are often not appropriate for individuals employed in the medical field,” Moustafa adds, wrapping up, “and so must be addressed before pursuing a career in this particular line of work.”
Further to her in-depth knowledge surrounding fears and phobias, Ventura-based Californian behavioral expert Rocio Moustafa’s other areas of expertise include bipolar, passive-dependent personality, manic depressive, and sleep disorders, among numerous additional conditions related to cognition, perception, and mood.