How do I Overcome a Fear of Feet?

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  • Written By: Angela Dalecki
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
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The fear of feet is known as podiaphobia. People with podiaphobia typically become frightened or disgusted whenever they are around feet, even their own. They often don't let anyone else touch their feet and sometimes wear shoes or socks all day and night so they never have to see their own feet. Like most phobias, the fear of feet is usually an irrational fear. Many people can overcome irrational fears with a cognitive-behavioral therapy tactic called systematic desensitization. This method can help people overcome fear by being exposed to their phobia triggers in a safe and controlled environment.

During a typical therapy session, a person with podiaphobia gradually encounters feet with the help of a therapist. For example, in an early session, the patient may simply be asked to draw a picture of feet or read about feet. Later, he may watch a video of feet or look at someone's feet through a doorway. Finally, the person typically has a real-life encounter with feet.

The point of systematic desensitization is to make the person realize that the fear of feet is irrational. This therapy, combined with relaxation techniques, often help the person see that feet are usually not harmful or dangerous. In many cases, the person begins to gain control over his fear, which is an important step toward overcoming the fear of feet.


People with podiaphobia typically experience severe anxiety whenever they encounter feet. This can happen even if they're not in contact with actual feet. They may start to have anxiety symptoms when faced with a photograph of feet, seeing feet on television, or hearing other people talk about feet. Fear of feet can sometimes become so severe that it interferes with a person's social life and business.

Typical symptoms of podiaphobia include shortness of breath, trembling, pounding heart, sweating, nausea, or chest pain whenever the person is around feet. The person may feel lightheaded, dizzy, or like they may pass out. Some people with podiaphobia feel like they're crazy or losing touch with reality. Anxiety symptoms may be so severe that the person may feel like he's dying.

In addition to therapy sessions, people with podiaphobia can take steps on their own to conquer their fears. For example, simply learning about phobias sometimes goes a long way toward overcoming anxiety. Many people feel comfort in knowing that other people have irrational fears, too.


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Post 3

@pastanaga - I can totally understand why people might be afraid of feet. I mean, aside from the smell, there is toenail fungus and athlete's foot and all kinds of other problems that only affect the feet. They can be disgusting if people don't care for them, and even if they do care for them, they still aren't the most pleasant body-part in the world.

Post 2

@Mor - Well, feet are considered taboo in a lot of cultures. I know in some countries it's a grave insult to point the soles of your feet at someone (say, if you are sitting down and you cross your legs the wrong way). And a lot of people consider their feet to be ugly because they fall outside the acceptable norms of society. My mother has quite wide feet and it really makes her miserable to go shopping for shoes, because she feels like she's failed somehow if she can't fit a smaller size (even though there's nothing she can do about it!).

And even if it seems like feet wouldn't be as dirty as hands, they are more likely

to smell bad, just because they are trapped inside shoes all the time. I know a lot of people who just never take their shoes off from when they wake up until when they sleep, so they probably eventually start to think of feet as being sort of strange looking.

Besides, in the end, people have unreasonable fears about all kinds of strange things. Feet are probably one of the more reasonable ones I've heard of.

Post 1

It's kind of strange how many people seem to have phobias or fetishes surrounding the feet. I mean, they are just feet. Everyone has them. Everyone sees them all the time. It's not like genitals or something where people of other genders might have something different from you.

I mean, I guess I understand people thinking feet can be dirty, but I would think that hands would actually be worse, since most of the time feet are trapped in socks and shoes. They don't really come into the same amount of contact with lots of different kinds of bacteria like hands might.

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