Blood phobia

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Blood phobia (also, AE: Hemophobia, BE: Haemophobia) is the extreme and irrational fear of blood. Acute cases of this fear can cause physical reactions that are uncommon in most other fears, specifically Vasovagal Syncope (fainting).[1] Similar reactions can also occur with trypanophobia and traumatophobia. For this reason, these three phobias are categorized as "blood-injection-injury phobia" by the DSM-IV.[2] Some early texts refer to this category as "blood-injury-illness phobia."[3]


Blood phobia is often caused by direct or vicarious trauma in childhood or adolescence.[3] There is also a genetic component to blood phobia.[4]


In patients with vasovagal blood phobia, patients who are successfully treated with psychological interventions are seen as unique.[5] In contrast, many behavioral techniques useful in mitigating vasovagal syncope, such as applying tension to the muscles in an effort to increase blood pressure, are helpful to patients with blood phobia.[6] Medical devices, such as pacemakers, are also used to treat patients with blood-phobia.[5]


  1. "The Merck Manual".
  2. Lipsitz, JD; Barlow, DH; Mannuzza, S; Hofmann, SG; Fyer, AJ (Jul), "Clinical features of four DSM-IV-specific phobia subtypes", The Journal Of Nervous And Mental Disease, 190 (7): 471–8 Check date values in: |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Thyer, Bruce A.; Himle, Joseph; Curtis, George C. (Jul), "Blood-Injury-Illness Phobia: A Review", Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 41 (4): 451–9 Check date values in: |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  4. Neale, MC; Walters, EE; Eaves, LJ; Kessler, RC; Heath, AC; Kendler, KS (December 15, 1994), "Genetics of blood-injury fears and phobias: a population-based twin study", American Journal Of Medical Genetics, 54 (4): 326–34
  5. 5.0 5.1 Van Dijk, Nynke; Velzeboer, Simone CJM; Destrée-Vonk, Anneke; Linzer, Mark; Wieling, Wouter (January 2001), "Psychological treatment of malignant vasovagal syncope due to bloodphobia.", Pacing And Clinical Electrophysiology, 24 (1): 122–4
  6. Peterson, Alan L. (Lt. Col.); Isler III, William C. (Capt.) (September 2004), "Applied tension treatment of vasovagal syncope during pregnancy", Military Medicine, 169 (9): 751–3