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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
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Blenophobia, The Fear of Needles

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Apr 24th 2008

 It is not discussed. It is not well known. Some people may, mistakenly, believe it's just a joke. However, there is a real fear, bordering, on panic, and it increases the sense of pain and it is called "Blenophobia" or the Fear of Needles."

In fact, it is estimated that 20 million Americans each year avoid going to the doctor because they fear needle sticks. Needle sticks are an important and vital part of the practice of medicine. First, blood tests are routinely done to test for things such as cholesterol, infections, blood count, blood type and other important diagnostic procedures.

Also, needle sticks are used to give injections for everything from vaccines to anti biotics and even re hydration is a patient is found to have low fluid levels. Allergists use needle stick tests to learn what environment factors may be causing allergic reactions and even asthmatic reactions.

Very often Blenophobia begins with just a single needle stick that is experienced as painful. Thereafter, the individual has such a fearful reaction that they cannot tolerate going anywhere near the MD's office. It should go without saying that avoiding medical visits can be dangerous for people especially when they are experiencing symptoms that could indicate a dangerous disease or other condition.

Not everyone reacts this way to a painful injection. In fact, most of us simply ignore it or take it as part of the process and move on.

There are a variety of reasons why an individual will develop this type of phobia while others will not:

1. Some individuals experience pain more intensely than others.
2. Some individuals tend toward anxieties and fears more than others.
3. An accumulation of traumas can serve to overload any person and make them more vulnerable to becoming phobic.
4. Everyone is born with a different genetic potential towards pain, anxiety and other types of experiences.
5. It is likely that all of these interact with one another.

For those of you with this or any other type of phobia, help is available. Systematic desensitization, Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy and Behavior Modification are all types of treatments available.

It is best to not delay in getting help with phobias. The reason is that, left untreated, fears can increase and become even more limiting.

Get a referral to a Clinical Psychologist trained in the use of these techniques. Also, there are some hospital outpatient programs that are devoted to the treatment of anxieties.

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

I hate insertion - Katz - May 8th 2010

I'm fine when it's in I don't want to see it I get nervous before insertion and once it's in I'm ok once it is taken out I'm exhausted as long as I can cover my eyes or look away it doesn't bother me much.  If you have to stick multiple needles in me and keep them there then you'd be better off drugging me so I don't not feel it or completely unconscious.  Then letting me sleep it off.  I have epilepsy need blood tests and don't mind having blood removed but they want to run an EMG and it freaks me also I have a stock broker who wants to intimidate me and I have PTSD.  

Blenophobia Treatment - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Jul 28th 2009

One way to overcome your fear of needles is to see a psychologist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and who will use systematic desensitization and exposure therapy to help you recover from this fear. I suggest that you look up these terms and find such a specialist.

Dr. Schwartz

severe - - Jul 28th 2009

hey i have probably the most severe fear you can get as even a conversation about needles or seeing them on T.V can make me vomit and go into something similar to a seizure almost immediately in the following 5 minutes. I know it is caused not only by y fathers fear, but my a traumtaic experience when i was 8. is there anyway to get over a phobia without any visual stimuli such as hypnotism because i cant stand scaring my friends as my eyes roll in the back a my head and i start convulsing... what can i do?

Conceptulisation conquering (Love & Fear). - Keith H - Aug 8th 2008
Conceptulizing love and fear are paramount to ruling phobias. Blenophobia is one that falls under fear and finding a way to confront this fear is instrumental in personal and spiritual advancement. Being careful is good but not allowing individuals who are trained to assist you in areas like physical and mental health could be confining where growth is concerned. Beholding the good in the final outcome can be the foundation of reasoning to help you overcome blennophobia and all otherphobias. Keep personal growth active and alive!

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