Ahem Blackleaf - did you miss this one? lol
Four million Brits suffer from toilet phobia
Last updated at 18:03pm on 10th November 2006
Loo scare: Toilet phobias range from a mild dislike of public loos to obsessions where sufferers refuse to leave their homes
At least four million Britons suffer from debilitating toilet phobias and most are too embarrassed to seek help, the National Phobics Society (NPS) said.
The NPS, which works with people affected by anxiety disorders, has classified the "secret" problem of toilet phobia as an anxiety condition in its own right and is launching a new campaign to help sufferers.
Toilet phobias range from a mild dislike of public loos to obsessions where sufferers refuse to leave their homes or even undergo potentially life-saving medical examinations.
The NPS said extreme sufferers are often unable to leave their homes, deny themselves fluids which can harm their kidneys, or take drugs to prevent any perceived or real "accidents."
The organisation argues the medical profession needs educating about toilet phobia in order to encourage sufferers to come forward and hopes its new campaign will go some way to tackling the issue.
The NPS believes that the stigma surrounding the phobia means that many people refuse to admit they have a problem.
"It is known as the 'secret' or 'silent' phobia because of its double whammy impact," said Nicky Lidbetter, manager of the NPS, which is launching the Toilet Phobia campaign at the Anxiety Disorders Conference in Manchester on Saturday.
"Few people will talk about having an anxiety disorder in the first place, but for them to admit they have a toilet-related phobia is rare because of the obvious embarrassment and humiliation of being laughed at or not being taken seriously."
"But, no matter how funny we might find it, it's certainly no laughing matter for almost seven per cent of the population who are reported to suffer from this condition."
The NPS has identified a correlation between Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) linked to a fear of contamination, Agoraphobia, Paruresis ("shy bladder" syndrome or fear of urinating in the company of others) and Parcopresis ("bashful bowel" syndrome, or the inability to defecate in public toilets).
They are collectively known as toilet-related phobias.
The problem can have serious implications for employers with absenteeism from work.
Many sufferers will not take a job if a toilet is located off a communal area and they can be observed going in or out, and will even create fictions of going to the photocopier or the staff kitchen rather than be seen going into the toilet, the NPS said.
Clinical psychologist and cognitive behaviour therapist, Professor Paul Salkovskis, said the attitude of society in general towards going to the toilet was part of the problem.
"Around the world we use a lot of humour and euphemism to describe what is a basic human function," he said.
"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."
Treatments include cognitive behaviour therapy, which helps people to break the cycle of faulty thinking, and hypnosis, which utilises techniques such as visualisation and guided imagery to bring about relaxation.
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I hate public loos because they are usually so very dirty, why is that a phobia?
- Carol Collier , london england
Thank you Daily Mail - I knew I had a problem, but never knew it had a name or where to go for advice.
- Doug, Hong Kong
Excellent comment Pen.
- Jane, Chelmsford