From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- See mysophilia
Mysophobia is a term used to describe a pathological fear of contact with dirt, to avoid contamination and germs. Someone who has such a fear is often referred to as a "mysophobe." The term was introduced by William A. Hammond in 1879 when describing a case of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) exhibited in repeatedly washing one's hands.
This phobia is sometimes referred to as germophobia (or germaphobia), a combination of germ and phobia to mean fear of germs, as well as bacillophobia and bacteriophobia.
Mysophobia has long been related to OCD or washing one's hands. However, Harry Stack Sullivan, an American psychologist and psychoanalyst, notes that while fear of dirt underlies the compulsion of a person with this kind of OCD, his or her mental state is not about germs; instead, this person feels the hands must be washed.
The television series Monk revolves around a police detective with several psychological disorders including a severe case of Mysophobia.