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Aspiring Doctor, 25, Is Forced To Face Her Phobia Of Navels

By: Pinki Wed, 04 July 2018 12:36:21

Aspiring doctor, 25, is forced to face her phobia of navels

Fears of heights, spiders and closed spaces are commonplace. But one student is desperately trying to overcome a phobia that could derail her career.

Lauren Jones, 25, is studying to become a doctor but is also battling to conquer omphalophobia – the extreme fear of belly buttons.

She is so repulsed by them that she suffers panic attacks and is physically sick at the sight a person's navel.

Miss Jones, who is studying medicine at the University of Leicester, said: ‘I know it is irrational but I cannot touch them or have mine touched. I get really freaked out and it makes me feel so uncomfortable.

‘If someone touches mine, it feels like they are touching my insides and I can feel it all through me. I won't even touch my own.’

A biomedical science graduate, she has always wanted to bring together her love for science and of interacting with people. But admits the fear frequently prevents her from maximising her potential.

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She added: ‘Watching Britain's Got Talent once an act put their finger in their belly button and I was physically sick because of it.

‘And when we had a lecture on abdominal examinations I had a panic attack in front of everybody.

'I had this overwhelming feeling of anxiety then I couldn't breather or look at anybody and I felt light-headed. I felt like I couldn't escape and I can't.’

Miss Jones, from Birmingham, continued: ‘This is something I have to overcome, something I have to be able to do to study medicine.’

She believes her phobia – which has worsened as she has got older – all stems from a very unpleasant childhood memory.

She said: ‘I haven't liked them for as long as I can remember. As a child someone told me to touch their belly button and then smell my finger.

‘I just remember this overpowering smell of belly button and that's where it all started but day-to-day I never had to cope with it.

‘I think I put it to the back of my mind but doing this degree has made me realise how bad it is. I even surprised myself with just how much they repulse me.’

Miss Jones says the university have been understanding of her phobia and set her up with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions.

While she is determined to be finish her degree, she said she is terrified of having to face her fears in counselling and can't yet imagine ever overcoming them.

Even during her preliminary appointment when the therapist subconsciously touched her belly button, she recoiled in fear mid-conversation.

She said: ‘I'm going to have to expose myself to the phobia and that is a really scary thought. I am so nervous about it because I have tried to help myself before by looking at pictures of people touching belly buttons but I can't cope, I feel physically repulsed.

‘I can't see a future where I will be okay with it, not at all, because I can't control it. The therapist and I were just talking about where to go from the initial appointment and she touched her belly button.

‘I curled up away from her, terrified, it was just instinctive. But I have exams coming up where I'll need to do this so I've got to, I've got to be able to cope.’

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