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What is Coprophobia?

Laura M. Sands
Updated: Jan 24, 2024

Coprophobia is the term used to describe an abnormal fear of feces. As with other phobias, individuals with this fear experience extreme anxiety at the sight of feces and will go to great lengths to avoid this reaction. Also known as scatophobia or koprophobia, coprophobia is a specific anxiety disorder that often requires psychological intervention before it can be overcome.

Originating from the Greek word for dung, kropos, coprophobia often extends beyond a fear of feces, as some people also fear things associated with feces such as toilets and bathrooms. Although most people with this phobia know that such fears are irrational, many feel powerless to overcome it without treatment. Instead, most will devise elaborate plans to avoid contact with feces as often as possible. Many people even develop other physical side effects, such as constipation and fecal impaction while avoiding bathrooms and elimination.

Phobias, such as coprophobia, result in the development of extreme symptoms when a person is faced with whatever it is she or he fears. Such symptoms may include intense panic, trembling, profuse perspiration, an increased heartbeat, nausea and a shortness of breath. Some may even lose consciousness upon encountering an extreme fear or may harm themselves while attempting to flee from a fearful situation. Over time, many people develop elaborate plans to avoid contact with fears, which can significantly reduce the quality of a person’s life.

Coprophobia also may have a severe impact on an individual’s social life. Often, people with such phobias become depressed due to an inability to control fears and anxiety, and many begin to socially withdraw from others. Many times social withdrawal is also a way of covering up a phobia, as a great deal of shame and mistrust is often associated with irrational fears.

Other phobias, such as a fear of heights or of crowded spaces, tend to be more common and better socially understood than coprophobia is. This fact leads many to laugh at the mere thought of someone having coprophobia. For individuals suffering from this condition, however, it is not a laughing matter. As a persistent fear, many battle symptoms of coprophobia on a daily basis feeling as though they are the only ones with this condition. Therapeutic treatment by a qualified mental health professional, however, can help successfully eliminate the persistent fear of feces and most can fully recover from this phobia in time.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Laura M. Sands
By Laura M. Sands
Laura Sands, the founder of a publishing company, brings her passion for writing and her expertise in digital publishing to her work. With a background in social sciences and extensive online work experience, she crafts compelling copy and content across various platforms. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a skilled contributor to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By anon329409 — On Apr 09, 2013

Such a relief to find that this phobia actually has a name. I've had it for as long as I can remember (I'm 22) and it extends to public bathrooms then leads to me feeling unclean so I end up scrubbing in an OCD fashion.

An add-on to this fear is sometimes I get scared there's going to be blood there too which makes the phobia even stronger. I've only really started taking myself seriously with this phobia as my parents or past partners - except the guy I'm with now - used to laugh or think I was making it up for attention. So to find the phobia has a name and that I am not alone is so much help!

By anon170176 — On Apr 25, 2011

Thank you so much, I do struggle with coprophobia on a daily basis and to make things worse, I am currently working in Russia. The state of public restrooms here has honestly made me avoid them at all costs. I can only use my bathroom at home and it can be a terrible inconvenience. I'm curious as to where this fear could have arisen from, because I think it developed after puberty.

Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands
Laura Sands, the founder of a publishing company, brings her passion for writing and her expertise in digital publishing...
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