What is Arachibutyrophobia?

Arachibutyrophobia, the Fear of Peanut Butter

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Arachibutyrophobia is actually not the fear of peanut butter as an object, but the situation of having it stick to the roof of your mouth.

It's not uncommon to have more than one phobia or to misdiagnose your condition without professional help. Arachibutyrophobia is often rooted in a more generalized phobia of choking (pseudodysphagia) or of sticky textures, but it can also occur alone.

Like all phobias, arachibutyrophobia varies in severity from sufferer to sufferer.

Some people are able to consume small quantities of peanut butter, perhaps as a dip for vegetables, while others are afraid to try peanut butter at all. In some cases, the fear extends to other peanut products, from peanut butter ice cream to peanut sauces.

Deadly Peanut Allergy

Eating peanut butter can be deadly if you're allergic to it. There are approximately three million Americans with an allergy to peanuts (and tree nuts) and studies show the number of kids with a peanut allergy tripled between 1997 and 2008.

Being afraid of having peanut butter stuck to the top of your mouth might seem like an unusual and unreasonable thing to be afraid of until you consider how serious and prevalent a peanut allergy can be.

As you can trace many specific phobias back to a traumatic incident in the past, seeing someone have an allergy attack as the result of eating peanut butter as a child, maybe at school or daycare, can have a long-lasting effect and cause arachibutyrophobia.

It's on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's list of the eight foods you're most likely to be allergic to:

  1. Peanuts
  2. Tree nuts
  3. Fish
  4. Shellfish
  5. Soy
  6. Milk
  7. Eggs
  8. Wheat

Peanut Butter is a Serious Choking Hazard for Children

You might be able to trace your fear of having peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth to choking on it as a child, although you might have been too young to remember it now.

Or you may have seen someone choking on it on television.

Choking on peanut butter is actually quite common. Food is responsible for over 90 percent of choking incidents in children younger than 5 years old. For adults and children with developmental disabilities in New Jersey, sandwiches were the leading cause of choking incidents, with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich involved in the majority of cases.

Treatment for Arachibutyrophobia

Arachibutyrophobia falls under the umbrella of specific phobia and highly treatable through cognitive behavior therapy methods. This type of therapy focuses on ameliorating your phobic reaction by helping you learn new patterns of behavior and thinking. Depending on the severity of your phobia, successful treatment can take as little as one to three sessions.

Or, you could simply avoid eating peanut butter.

Examples: Jennifer was reluctant to eat peanut butter after nearly choking on a large, sticky, peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When she began to avoid peanut sauces as well, Jennifer's therapist diagnosed her with arachibutyrophobia.

Sources:

FoodAllergy.org: Facts and Statistics (2013)

New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services: Health and Safety Alert - Choking (2010)

Sidell, et al. International Journal Pediatric Otorhinolaryngol: Food Choking Hazards in Children (2013)

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