Friday, April 21, 2017

Personality Quirks: R is for Rhytiphobia

Rhytiphobia is the fear of getting wrinkles. Seriously?

Oh, yes. This concern about signs of aging goes back a very long way. Beauty products meant to enhance the appearance and reduce signs of aging go back millennia.

But to rise to the level of phobia is upping the stakes. Many of us would rather not have pruney faces, but to actually fear it is on another level. Phobias typically come from traumatic events and internal predispositions, but in the case of social phobias like rhytiphobia, the causes are not well known. Maybe brain chemistry interacts with genetics with life experiences to create social phobias. We just don’t know enough yet.

Generally speaking, phobias cause a variety of external signs of panic (dry mouth, sweating, nausea, irregular heartbeat, rapid breathing, shortness of breath, and more) as well as internal reactions such as extreme dread or anxiety. Talk therapy may be more successful than medication for social phobias.

Etymologically, rhytiphobia comes from the Greek rhyti meaning ‘wrinkle’ and from phobia meaning ‘fear’.

Your rhytiphobic character could be a famous actor or model or even a politician. Make shim someone in the public eye and under constant scrutiny for appearance by others or even just shimself. Think of Oscar Wilde's The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Perhaps you could do a modern take on this horror story by showing the extremes your rhytiphobic character would go to in order to maintain a youthful appearance. Is there an attic full of young runaways whose blood is systematically drawn for infusions for your character? Is the scientist running this operation tired of the pettiness of your rhytiphobe and does heesh sabotage the project?

Or maybe you can show a comic rhytiphobic character who buys every cream, pill, and powder in an attempt to stem the inevitable signs of aging. The family and friends may worry about the rhyophobe losing money in one scam or another. Perhaps your character is so convinced that a particular new process works that heesh becomes involved in the production and distribution of the product. Are there lawsuits? Does confrontation with a customer lead your character to see the absurdity of fearing aging signs? Maybe the fear of wrinkles is the surface phobia for fear of dying. Once that’s resolved, shis rhytiphobia disappears (so to speak).

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Here are some ideas for #writers on creating rhytiphobic #characters from @RomanceRighter

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