HIV phobia

by Marietta
(Raleigh, NC)


I work in HIV research and ironically, I have an intense fear of contracting HIV. Sometimes when I'm handling HIV infected cells, I would feel something that feels like a liquid get into my eyes. Please be aware that all personnel working with infectious diseases wear proper protective equipment such as face shields, gloves, and gowns. However, sometimes I would feel something get in my eyes. If not that, if I happen to have a cut I fear that the infected sample may have gotten into my cut. My question is can intense fear or phobia over something cause us to imagine exposure to the very thing we fear?

For example, someone who has a severe phobia of rats, is it possible for that person to see a rat that wasn't there?

I know that I'm not always rational with my fears, but it feels like it's taking over my life. I know, you may think, why don't you just quit that job? In a lot of ways I do feel like I'm not being rational with how I feel.

I also tend to be a little over compulsive. I'm extremely clean and cannot have a peace of mind unless my house and car are spotless. Is there a connection with OCD and phobia?

Thank you very much for your time and help.

Ben's Answer:

Yes, it's common for those with OCD tendencies to have these kinds of phobias. In fact OCD is really just like having an extreme and constant phobic reaction to specific things. Fear can definitely cause you to perceive the very object of your fear, even when it is not actually there. At its extreme, this would be the definition of paranoia.

One of the most useful approaches you could use with these issues would be Meridian Tapping/EFT. Tapping about these specific fears that you have at work would most likely decrease or eliminate them. There may also be necessary work to do on earlier or pre-existing issues, fears, compulsive cleanliness issues, etc. These could also be worked on with Meridian Tapping.

Therapy could be very helpful but only if it's the right kind of therapy. CBT, EMDR, Meridian Tapping or other forms of Energy Psychology would be the way to go if you choose to see a therapist.

Take Care,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist

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