What Causes a Phobia of Buttons?

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Initially in koumpounophobia, dislike or hate is generated against buttons that might be present in clothes or gadgets. Over time, this dislike is molded into a condition called fear. The unnecessary and continuous timidity for toggles is typically called button phobia. Generally, phobias are classified into two types: complex and specific.

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Since button phobia is a fear for specific objects like toggles, it is categorized under specific phobia that refers to the relentless fright of particular materials or situations. The causes of this particular phobia are similar to the aspects of specific phobias.

Genetic cause

Genetic predisposition plays a role in this type of emotion. A person whose family associates with button phobia is at a magnified risk of developing this disorder. Additionally, mutation in the assorted genes can also predispose a person to develop a number of emotional disorders, including specific phobias. Research has estimated that hereditary reasons for specific phobia range from 25 to 65%, even though they do not recognize the exact genes. Sometimes, a combination of genetic and environmental factors also plays a role in specific phobias. However, not everyone with a genetic predisposition is prone to koumpounophobia.

Physiological cause

Whenever a button phobic person is exposed to toggles, the fight or flight response is alerted by neurotransmitting substances such as epinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. When there is no fight or even flight from the particular situation, the antagonistic effects fail to remove the secreted neurotransmitter and so the neurochemicals pile up. Recent studies have proposed that the accumulated neurotransmitter reacts with the rational and emotional components of fear, which biologically influence an individual to be affected by specific phobias like button phobia.

Psychodynamic cause

Generally, the human mind has the ability to suppress undesirable impulses from ‘normal’ impulses. Psychoanalysts reveal that in a fearful person, the phobia replaces the anxiety related to the conflict responses when an undesirable impulse is not repressed. Thus, specific phobia is also connected to a person’s antagonism toward a particular object. Theoretically, the phobia prevents the person from recognizing his fear.

Traumatic event in juvenility

Children’s brains are heavily influenced by the experience of traumatic situations, which can lead to problems in adulthood such as fear. Researches have informed that phobias caused from traumatic events have a more immediate impact. Some people are affected by specific phobia due to certain incidents from their childhood that they may not even remember.

For example:

  • An adult fears buttons due to the falling of a bucketful of toggles on his head at the age of two.
  • Children’s incapability to stitch on buttons on clothes can also cause dismay toward them. This happens due to parental avoidance.
  • Blockage of toggles in the throat or nose due to inhalation or swallowing leads to the consequence of button phobia.

Witnessing traumatic cases

Observing traumatic situations experienced by others can trigger emotional fear in an individual with button phobia e.g. a person watching a distressed child that has choked on a button.

This event can either trigger:

  • the recollection of an individual’s childhood trauma caused by toggle ingestion or
  • a sensible person to learn to be frightened by buttons.

Learning from others

Sometimes, button phobia might be caused by the knowledge of someone else who is scared of buttons. This happens in some families where a member may have acquired the fear from other members in the family for buttons. Children are more susceptible to learn this culture of fear.

For instance:

  • When a mother’s expression toward buttons, which might be a dislike or fear, can influence a child to react in the same manner.
  • Learning that old buttons are always dirty in childhood can also cause a lifelong avoidance of buttons.

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Environmental causes

Avoidance or abuse limits learning in kids. For example:

  • Mocking a child that he/she cannot fasten their buttons on clothes will cause the avoidance of the use of buttons; thereby hate toward buttons is developed.
  • A few others hate buttons because of abuse in childhood by someone wearing clothes with buttons.

Coraline movie

One of Neil Gaiman’s scary novels was turned into a movie called Coraline, in which the scary lead role had buttons instead of eyes. Such movies might also be a cause for fear toward buttons. Some people, after watching these movies, felt horrible to see buttons on clothes and especially children began to be afraid of using buttons on their clothes.

Most cases of button phobia can be overcome by proper parenting and guidance provided to children. Severe levels of button phobia in adulthood can be overwhelmed by therapies such as hypnotherapy and psychotherapy.

Further Reading

Last Updated: May 25, 2023


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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