Malaxophobia - Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Malaxophobia - Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Last update: 27 April, 2020

The field of sexuality is not free of phobias. Love play, characterized by actions such as kissing, caressing, and stroking your partner, can cause feelings of distress and discomfort in those who suffer from malaxophobia.

Malaxophobia, also known as sarmassophobia, is a great obstacle to the goal of strengthening intimacy in relationships. Additionally, it makes it difficult to establish love connections. Let’s look at what this rare phobia is also about. We’ll also see what treatments exist for the elimination of the distress it causes – or at least its reduction.

“Love has a powerful brother – hatred. Try not to offend the former, because the latter can kill you.”

-F. Heumer-

What is malaxophobia?

Malaxophobia is characterized by an irrational and persistent fear of the game of seduction and love itself. People with malaxophobia experience symptoms of elevated anxiety in situations which, in principle, shouldn’t cause them. Aside from this, these people feel very frustrated because of the ambivalence associated with it. They feel the need and desire to be with someone else, but at the same time, they’re afraid because of all that is implied in the context of seduction.

It’s currently considered an uncommon phobia. Nevertheless, professionals have been able to study it in detail and it’s well-documented. Because of that, optimal recovery is possible if it’s treated correctly. Whatever the case may be, it’s interesting to study this illness and know what the most common symptoms are, as well as its causes and the treatment necessary for a complete recovery.

sad woman with malaxophobia


People with malaxophobia don’t show their fears in their normal environments. Even so, when they’re immersed in seduction activities (like getting to know someone they consider attractive), they may feel elevated anxiety and suffering. They only show the following symptoms in within that context:

Physical symptoms

The first symptoms manifest in a physical way. Irrational fear of seduction and love play doesn’t follow a pattern in this sense. Even so, it’s common for it to create an increase in nervous system activity.

So, we can identify an increased breathing rate, an increased heart rate, hyperventilation, sensation of suffocation, palpitations, muscular tension, pupil dilation, aches, excessive sweating, dizziness, and even vomiting as being among the most common symptoms.

Psychological symptoms

With regard to psychological symptoms, we find that strong irrational beliefs appear. The thoughts are characterized as an almost delirious fear of love play, an inability to act in a composed way in situations that imply it, fear of being ridiculous, and a lack of confidence and self-esteem.

This negative thinking promotes the development of aversion to seductive activities. Also, these beliefs, along with the physical symptoms, increase irrational fear and lack of confidence even more.

Behavioral symptoms

When people with this illness experience a higher level of anxiety every time we’re found in situations involving seduction, they tend to avoid that type of situation. They also try to escape from all situations that imply contact with someone to whom they’re sexually attracted.

The primary behavioral symptom is, then, avoidance. The individual will do everything possible to avoid getting involved with love play or seduction. If, for some reason, she has to participate in something similar, she will flee the situation as soon as possible.

sad boy with malaxophobia


With regard to the causes, just as with phobias, it’s hard to pinpoint a single one. After several studies, it’s been discovered that the development of the disease tends to result from a combination of different factors.

  • Direct conditioning. Having had bad experiences related to attraction is one of the most important causes. In this way, the individual is unconsciously conditioned by their emotions to avoid those situations.
  • Vicarious conditioning. In this case, information regarding these situations is obtained through seeing the traumatic and negative experiences experienced by people close to them in regard to seduction activities.
  • Verbal conditioning. Getting the information in a verbal form can also be one of the causes that leads to malaxophobia. The instruction a child receives can play an important role. If people have focused excessively on the negative consequences of love play, this can be the result.
  • Miscellaneous factors. As far as genetics, it’s said that the family history of the illness is a risk factor, although there isn’t clear evidence for this. On the other hand, on the cognitive side, there has been interest in unrealistic beliefs and cognitive bias towards the threats of these activities as reasons for the appearance of this unrealistic fear.


As we said before, some treatments for eliminating or at least reducing the intensity of the distress felt by those suffering from this phobia have been developed. For this, it’s necessary to seek the help of a psychotherapist specialized in cognitive behavioral therapy. These are the most common therapies:

  • Systematic desensitization or exposure. Always in a controlled manner, in order to eliminate or reduce the anxiety the person feels. They should also receive instruction in relaxation techniques.
  • Cognitive restructuring in order to treat dysfunctional thoughts.

As we can see, malaxophobia is an uncommon phobia that can lead to serious health problems. Nonetheless, it’s encouraging to know that a treatment exists. Those who are afraid of seduction situations can overcome their problem.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.