Genuphobia is a deep, irrational fear of knees or the act of kneeling. Although moderately uncommon, people with this condition experience high anxiety by simply thinking of knees or the idea of kneeling. Like most phobias, the severity of genuphobia depends on the individual.
What Is Genuphobia?
The term genuphobia is derived from the Latin word ‘Genu’, meaning knees and Greek word ‘phobos’ meaning fear or aversion. Someone suffering from this phobia is usually scared of knees, kneeling or getting knee injuries. The intensity of the fear varies greatly as one person may be afraid of bare knees in person, while someone else may be scared of images and videos of uncovered knees. Not only are they afraid of others’ knees, they can also be scared of their own knees.
Experiencing a knee injury 1 is perhaps the most common reason for developing this rare phobia. However, there may be various other reasons for the occurrence of this condition.
Genuphobic people often find knees to be overwhelming and repulsive. Simply thinking about knees can trigger certain difficult emotions like worry, stress and anxiety. Moreover, they can also experience sweating, shivering and even panic attacks. Even though sufferers may realize that their phobic reaction is irrational and unreasonable most of the time, they generally lack the ability to control it. Sufferers also engage in illogical thinking leading to mental anguish. They also have a deep rooted fear of kneeling which is based in their self-consciousness. They may also have an inherent fear of submission or vulnerability.
People with this condition stress over keeping their knees covered most of the time, leading to significant distress or impairment in social, occupational and other areas of functioning. Moreover, they are unable to participate in certain activities, like swimming or other sports, religious practices or occupations that require kneeling down frequently.
Read More About Fear Here
Symptoms Of Genuphobia
Genuphobes may experience intense panic attacks when exposed to uncovered knees or forced to kneel down, showing symptoms such as:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased rate of breathing
- High blood pressure
- Muscle tension
- Excessive sweating
Although panic attacks are not a common symptom of genuphobia, it can still occur if the intensity of the phobia is severe. Apart from panic attacks, there are several other common physical and psychological symptoms of Genuphobia, which are mentioned below:
1. Physical symptoms
- Shaking or trembling
- Dizziness or fainting
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness of chest
- Palpitations or accelerated heartbeat
- Excessive sweating
- Dry mouth
- Muscle tension
- Upset stomach
- Elevated blood pressure
- Rapid speech or inability to speak
- Hot and cold flashes
2. Psychological symptoms
- Fear of death or thoughts of dying
- Feeling a sense of loss of reality
- Having sense of detachment
- Fear of losing control and embarrassing oneself
- Feeling like fainting and nausea
- Excessive anxiety
- Constantly avoiding knees
- May experience panic attack
In children and adolescents, acute anxiety caused by Genuphobia may lead to the following symptoms:
- Loss of self-esteem
- Poor friendships and relationships
- Failure to reach academic potential
- Other difficulties in adulthood
What Are The Causes?
Most of the time, Genuphobia is caused by a negative experience, like a knee injury, either to the sufferer or to someone close to them. However, there are various other genetic, environmental 2, psychological and cultural factors that can lead to the development of this condition.
1. Genetic factors
Studies reported that specific phobias tend to run in families. Approximately two-thirds to three-fourths of affected individuals have at least one first-degree relative with specific phobia of the same type. Hence, some individuals are simply more prone to develop psychological problems. For instance, if an individual has a family history of psychological problems, such as genuphobia then they are likely to develop that condition.
2. Environmental factors
If a person severely injured their knees as a child or may have seen someone else get knee injury, either in person or even in a movie, then they may also develop this particular phobia. Even a single negative experience can create a significant impact and cause the phobia to develop. Moreover, if someone was frequently punished as a child and had to kneel repeatedly, then they might also have a fear of knees. For them knees are a symbol of servitude, submission, abuse, and anxiety.
3. Psychological factors
Children can often develop certain phobias if their parents suffer from severe anxiety. If a parent is too strict and asks their children to keep their knees covered or protected at all times, then the child may become sensitive towards their knees and develop a fear of injury. Moreover, people with body dysmorphic disorder 3 can believe that their knees are out of shape and may be prone to genuphobia. Dysmorphic disorder is a mental illness that makes an individual believe that their body is flawed, defective or distorted.
4. Cultural factors
In some cases, cultural factors 4 are accountable for the fear of knees. People with highly religious or culturally conservative upbringing may suffer from genuphobia. Some traditionalist religions have strict rules regarding dress codes. Exposing knees may be unacceptable in some cultures, especially when it comes to women. Hence, they might develop negative thinking and emotions associated with knees as they are usually unfamiliar with bare knees. Hence, they may get repulsed when exposed to uncovered knees.
Treatment For Genuphobia
There is no particular treatment for specific phobias like genuphobia. However, there are certain treatment options that can help to improve the symptoms and help the sufferers manage their anxiety. Here are some of the helpful treatments options available for a patient with this disorder:
1. Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT 5 is a psycho-social intervention which helps to improve the patient’s mental and emotional well being. It enables people to identify their own emotions and understand how they behave and react in regards to their phobia. Moreover, CBT also inspires sufferers to slowly get familiar with knees and kneeling in an acceptable and positive way.
Read More About Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) Here
2. Exposure therapy
Exposure therapy 6 is highly effective and helpful when it comes to treating phobias. It helps to desensitize the patient to their specific fears by gradually exposing them to knees and the act of kneeling in a safe environment. By experiencing the triggers and anxiety in a controlled environment, Genuphobes can learn to overcome feelings of distress when exposed to knees.
Apart from CBT and exposure therapy, hypnotherapy may also be used by some mental health professionals to treat this phobia.
There are no specific medications for this phobia. But certain medicines like antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicines can be prescribed for relieving the symptoms of genuphobia. However, there can be certain side-effects, like sleepiness & weight gain. This is why it is crucial to seek professional help when trying to cope with anxiety disorders and phobias.
4. Self-help treatment
Apart from therapies and medications, people suffering from this condition can also implement some self-help techniques to help them overcome their fear of knees. Here are some effective ways to get started:
By writing down negative thoughts and emotions, the patient can observe them to understand the intensity of the phobia. This is a great way to process negative thoughts and behaviors to adapt and change eventually.
B. Relaxation techniques
Breathing exercises, yoga, meditation 7 , tai chi and other relaxation techniques can greatly help in boosting concentration and reducing anxiety. By developing a relaxed mind the patient can control their phobic reactions and decide how they want to behave when encountering triggers and stressors in a calmer way.
C. Physical exercise
Any kind of physical exercise 8 like walking, swimming, running, cardio, weightlifting or even dancing can help to reduce the symptoms associated with genuphobia. Moreover, by engaging in sports and physical activities the patient will get gradual exposure to knees and become more comfortable with uncovered knees and kneeling overtime.
Rise Above Your Fear
If your fear of knees or kneeling is affecting your daily life, then it is crucial that you visit a primary care physician or a mental health professional immediately. Undergoing therapy, taking medicines and practicing self-help techniques mentioned above can help you to not only overcome your phobia but also to live a healthier and more positive life.
Genuphobia At A Glance
- Genuphobia is a deep, irrational fear of knees or the act of kneeling.
- Genuphobic people often find knees to be overwhelming and repulsive.
- Simply thinking about knees can trigger certain difficult emotions like worry, stress and anxiety.
- Genuphobia is caused by a negative experience, like a knee injury, either to the sufferer or to someone close to them.
- There is no particular treatment for specific phobias like genuphobia.
- If your fear of knees or kneeling is affecting your daily life, then it is crucial that you visit a primary care physician or a mental health professional immediately.
- Gage, B. E., McIlvain, N. M., Collins, C. L., Fields, S. K., & Dawn Comstock, R. (2012). Epidemiology of 6.6 million knee injuries presenting to United States emergency departments from 1999 through 2008. Academic Emergency Medicine, 19(4), 378-385. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1553-2712.2012.01315.x
- Loken, E. K., Hettema, J. M., Aggen, S. H., & Kendler, K. S. (2014). The structure of genetic and environmental risk factors for fears and phobias. Psychological medicine, 44(11), 2375–2384. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291713003012
- Bjornsson, A. S., Didie, E. R., & Phillips, K. A. (2010). Body dysmorphic disorder. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 12(2), 221–232. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2010.12.2/abjornsson
- Hofmann, S. G., Anu Asnaani, M. A., & Hinton, D. E. (2010). Cultural aspects in social anxiety and social anxiety disorder. Depression and anxiety, 27(12), 1117–1127. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.20759
- Kaczkurkin, A. N., & Foa, E. B. (2015). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders: an update on the empirical evidence. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 17(3), 337–346. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2015.17.3/akaczkurkin
- McGuire, J. F., Lewin, A. B., & Storch, E. A. (2014). Enhancing exposure therapy for anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Expert review of neurotherapeutics, 14(8), 893–910. https://doi.org/10.1586/14737175.2014.934677
- Krishnakumar, D., Hamblin, M. R., & Lakshmanan, S. (2015). Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective. Ancient science, 2(1), 13–19. https://doi.org/10.14259/as.v2i1.171
- Stonerock, G. L., Hoffman, B. M., Smith, P. J., & Blumenthal, J. A. (2015). Exercise as Treatment for Anxiety: Systematic Review and Analysis. Annals of behavioral medicine : a publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, 49(4), 542–556. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12160-014-9685-9