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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Fear of Toilets

A campaign is being launched in Britain to raise awareness of a little-known phobia - fear of toilets. The National Phobics Society estimates at least four million Brits are affected - but the true number could be many more. The society has classified the disorder as an anxiety condition in its own right.

Toilet phobia can simply be manifest as a mild distaste for public loos. But some people develop such an intense obsession that they are housebound, and may refuse potentially life-saving medical examinations. They may deny themselves fluids, which can harm the kidneys, or take drugs to avoid "accidents".

Many people will not even take a job if they can be seen going in or out of a toilet. And situations requiring the provision of a urine sample fill some patients with terror. Experts believe the stigma surrounding the phobia means many people refuse to admit they have a problem. The National Phobics Society (NPS) hopes its new campaign will go some way to tackling this issue.

Clinical psychologist Paul Salovskis said part of the problem was society's squeamishness. "We say `I'm going to the bathroom' or 'I'm going to powder my nose' because there is a taboo surrounding using the toilet."

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