Omfalophobia (fear of the navels): causes and symptoms

Have you ever heard of omphalophobia? It is irrational and disproportionate fear of touching or seeing belly buttons . It is a very rare and uncommon specific phobia.

This fear can be extrapolated to the navel itself or that of others. In this article we will know the symptoms of omphalophobia, its causes and possible treatments.

  • We recommend you read: “The 15 rarest phobias that exist”

Omphalophobia: belly button phobia

Thus, omphalophobia is a specific phobia, which is diagnosed as such when there is a real deterioration in the patient’s life (or significant discomfort). As we anticipated, there is always an intense fear of seeing or touching navels (own or others).

Specific phobias are anxiety disorders , considered as such in the different diagnostic manuals (DSM-5). So omphalophobia is an anxiety disorder.


Navel is a word that comes from the Latin “umbiculus” and from the Greek “ophalos”. The navel consists of a scar that remains in our belly after breaking the umbilical cord when we are born. This scar implies a depression of the skin, like a kind of “hole” of rounded shape.

There are many types of belly button, in terms of shape, size, etc. The vast majority of people have a navel.


The symptoms of omphalophobia are the symptoms of any other simple phobia . Recall that these are, mainly the following.

1. Disproportionate and irrational fear

The main symptom of omphalophobia is an intense, disproportionate and irrational fear of the navels . This extends to the possibility of touching them, seeing them, etc., either the navel itself or the navel of another person.

This fear is intense because it is high, disproportionate because its intensity is too high considering the stimulus that elicits this response (the navels, which are harmless and can not cause any damage), and irrational because it does not respond to a logical reaction to This stimulus.

2. Avoidance

The second symptom of omphalophobia is avoidance; that is, the person with this phobia avoids seeing or touching belly buttons at all costs. In the event that you must necessarily see or touch one, resist such a situation with high anxiety.

Thus, these people can resist going to places where people go without a shirt (for example beaches, swimming pools, etc.)

3. Interference

The third symptom of omphalophobia, and of any specific phobia, is interference in daily life. That is, the above symptoms interfere with the patient’s daily life, causing significant discomfort or deterioration in their functioning.

This translates into: difficulties in going to places where people go without a t-shirt , or places where the individual must be left without it, etc. That is, the functioning of the patient’s life is disturbed.

4. Lasts at least 6 months

The symptoms of omphalophobia last at least 6 months. This criterion, like the previous ones, corresponds to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders).


The causes of specific phobias can be of different types . In the specific case of omphalophobia, we can find causes such as the following.

1. Traumatic situations

Having experienced a traumatic situation related to a navel can cause the appearance of omphalophobia. An example of this may be having suffered a navel infection (omphalitis), having suffered severe navel pains for some other cause, having injured the navel, etc.

2. Vicar conditioning

The vicarious conditioning is another possible cause of specific phobias; It refers to a type of learning where the person observes what consequences a specific behavior has for another person (these consequences being generally negative).

In the case of omphalophobia, it can happen that the person who suffers from it has observed how other people suffered from a condition related to the navel . For example an infection, an injury, navel pain. It also includes the fact of having seen damaged or deformed navels, etc.

Vicar conditioning can occur “live” (seeing other people) or “symbolically” (through movies, for example).

3. Predisposition to anxiety

Another possible cause of omphalophobia is the predisposition or vulnerability (genetic and biological) to suffer from anxiety disorders . This vulnerability has been observed in some people, and has been proven in different studies.

4. Family pattern

We can also talk about family patterns in the case of omphalophobia; It is a reality that the risk of suffering a specific phobia increases if there are members of our family who also suffer from it.

That is, in a way, phobias can also be “inherited”, either by genetics or by having heard negative ideas in relation to the navels , by relatives.


There are different treatments for specific phobias, as well as for omphalophobia in particular. The main ones are the following.

1. Exposure therapy

In exposure therapy, it is about gradually exposing the patient to the situation of seeing and touching navels. This is done through a hierarchy, that is, the first items on the list will be stimuli that cause less anxiety intensity, and as the list progresses the items will cause more anxiety.

The patient will be exposed to these items, which will be situations related to seeing or touching a belly button. For example, the first item on the list may be to stay “X” minutes watching people without a shirt from afar. The second, see those same people a little more closely. The third, approaching a belly button, etc., and at the end of the list, situations that involve touching a belly button.

2. Cognitive therapy

The cognitive therapy is a type of psychological therapy that includes main cognitive restructuring technique. This will be based, in the case of omphalophobia, on teaching the patient to identify his dysfunctional and irrational thoughts related to his phobia (that is, with the navels).

After the identification of these thoughts (also called cognitive distortions), the patient will be taught to look for alternative thoughts to them, these being more realistic and adjusted to reality and to the “non-danger” of the navels.

The goal is for these navel-related thoughts to disappear and be replaced by more positive, realistic and adaptive thoughts.

3. Pharmacology

The drugs have also been used in cases of specific phobias (mainly, anxiolytics and antidepressants), although it is true that pharmacological treatment should always be timely and / or temporary, and as an adjuvant or complementary to a psychological treatment.

That is, psychotropic drugs can be used to “calm” the patient’s anxiety and to start working with him through psychotherapy .

The reality is that if the underlying problem is not treated (irrational thoughts associated with the phobia, intense fear of exposure, etc.), the drugs will have a very limited action on this disorder (or any other specific phobia). .


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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