Fear of one’s own glance

The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry has an intriguing article on a Japanese psychiatric diagnosis that doesn’t seem to have a Western equivalent: ‘fear of one’s own glance’ or jiko-shisen-kyofu.

On the basis of the Japanese diagnostic system, phobia of one’s own glance is characterized by a fear of one’s own glance, which they believe assumes an offensive nature and is uncontrollably directed at persons near them. Individuals with phobia of one’s own glance believe that their glance brings others discomfort, and people with this diagnosis convince themselves of the accuracy of their belief by interpreting the trivial behaviour of others (e.g. coughing, laughing, sniffing, sneezing, head turning, etc.) as evidence for this belief. Such patients feel deeply ashamed, demeaned, and unaccepted, and many eventually avoid social situations. A diagnosis of phobia of one’s own glance is not contingent upon whether or not a patient considers his or her thoughts to be excessive; therefore, neither the presence nor a lack of insight is essential for the diagnosis.

The paper gives several case studies that include people who are concerned that their glance made other people feel uncomfortable, was a nuisance or was socially harmful to others, or made the patient themselves feel uncomfortable.

Link to PubMed entry for study.

10 thoughts on “Fear of one’s own glance”

  1. I’m tempted to try equating this with the various European traditions of evil eye (malocchio in Italian). The notion of causing harm due to envy (even unintentionally) has some similarities.

  2. I have experienced exactly this whilst under the influence of non-prescription medication. It was not pleasant and one of the reasons why I gave up said medication.

  3. Yes, the “evil eye” connection is a good one. This one kinda sounds like the more extreme end of the NPD/BPD spectrum, where folks are already disassociated in some way from their sense of self.

  4. it is therefore, then, imperative, to have a good relationship with one’s “self” so that a glance is filled with love and self-esteem… the ability to smile into the mirror is an exceptional way of warding off any “hey, whatcha looking at” vibe… I also did non-prescriptive medication many years ago and found my paranoia too terrible to bear, so also gave up that recreation. I’m now far better at looking at myself and others, knowing that we are all filled with the same Spirit or Mind and that a smile is one of our most powerful and disarming weapons against the “darkness/unknown”. And laughter, well, we all know how contagious that can be…

  5. That makes sense because direct eye contact is considered insensitive/invasive in many Asian cultures. Harmonic relationships, non-assertiveness and public perception are critical aspects (more so than in the West).

    It is no surprise if for vulnerable persons the cultural social hyper-sensitivity can develop into a phobia.

    I don’t know much about Japanese culture, but I suspect that it is no different on that point.

  6. i have this exact syndrome or disorder. all the above symptoms and other symptoms i have found online relate to me and i am not japanese. nor do i live in japan. i have read and encountered others with this same syndrome here in the USA and have found some treatment options but i dont know if they work. paxil, and (milnacipran)savella, which is used for fibromyalgia.

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