“Mysophobia” is the pathological fear of germs. The condition, a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, has been highlighted extensively in films — like Nicholas Cage’s character in Matchstick Men, Bill Murray’s character in What About Bob?, and Leonardo DiCaprio playing Howard Huges in The Aviator. Yet, the condition is far from humorous for germaphobes who suffer from this real-life, deep-seated terror.
What Are The Symptoms Of OCD Germ Obsession?
According to GoodTherapy.org, common behaviors for people with a phobia of germs may include compulsive hand washing or the excessive use of antibacterial hand sanitizer. They may fear physical contact with others and fear certain locations like doctor’s offices and airplanes where sick people might be present in a confined space. Media reports of new diseases terrify them. “The phobia can be all-encompassing and life-altering,” they report.
Researchers aren’t sure exactly what prompts a fear of germs, but it’s believed that the root cause stems from a traumatic illness in early childhood. The phobia isn’t discriminating: anyone can be a germaphobe — even famous people.
Famous “Germaphobes”: Howie Mandel
Comedian, actor and TV host Howie Mandel is one of the most famous germaphobes and many consider him to be the unofficial poster child of OCD.
“What I have is OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder),” he explained. “It’s true that I won’t shake hands. I also have a lot of rituals. I do wash my hands repeatedly. And what I do in my life to deal with it, I’m able to make fun of in my comedy act. I’m also surrounded by great people and a great family who have helped me through, and combined with therapy it’s helped make me a highly functioning person with OCD. But not a lot of people are as lucky as me.”
Howie comes clean about his intense phobia in his autobiography, Don’t Touch Me. When discussing the book on national television in 2009, Mandel told Greta Van Susteren, it was a “wonderful, sexy thought” to imagine bathing in Purell. He said that he washed away so many germs that doctors said he “destroyed all his antibodies” and he ended up contracting warts whenever he touched something. Even so, he still leaves the room when a sneeze occurs and feels horribly uncomfortable. “I’m medicated. I’m functioning,” he tells Fox News. But he still wears surgical scrubs at home and wears masks as much as possible. He still brings his own utensils to buffets. And he’s just starting to warm up to using hotel towels, he says.
Other famous germaphobes include: Cameron Diaz (who opens doors with her elbows), Megan Fox (who once went a week without eating because she was afraid of restaurant cutlery contamination), Donald Trump (who refuses to shake hands or touch elevator buttons), and the late Michael Jackson (who wore face masks in public).
SteriShoe: The Perfect Treatment For Germaphobes?
The SteriShoe® Ultraviolet Shoe Sanitizer was originally designed to help people with diabetes, smelly feet, toenail fungus and chronic athlete’s foot prevent recurrent foot infections by destroying 99.9% of the harmful microbes harbored in their footwear. Yet, it’s also a terrific tool for germaphobes like Howie Mandel to give them a better sense of control over their environment. We recommend the SteriShoe device for anyone who wants to maintain good foot hygiene and sanitary shoes.