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Am I a Danger to Myself and Others?

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From a teen in the U.S.: I have been told by many doctors that I have a psychosis related problem (they’re unsure if it’s schizophrenic or schizoaffective) and I have a phobia of people around me vomiting. I know the fear is irrational, I have no idea how I became afraid of it, I have been my whole life. The fear stretched into involving coughing, and I hate the sound of anyone around me coughing. When I hear someone cough, I get very angry very fast and I feel an impulse to hurt them, but instead of hurting them I hurt myself (punching myself, hitting my head).

I feel like I get so much anger I have to act out, so I’d rather act out on myself. If someone coughs while I’m in public I’ll dig my fingernails into my palms. I have been known to yell and threaten to hurt family members because they coughed near me. Because I have psychosis, I will hallucinate people coughing and it will make me hurt myself. I hate the sound more than the germs, because I’m afraid people coughing will lead to them vomiting.

I’m afraid I’ll never be able to have children because I might be a danger to them, as kids get sick a lot when they’re younger. I’m hopeful I’ll be able to be treated/grow out of this before I have kids, as I’m only 16, but it’s gotten worse over time.

I’m also afraid my psychosis somehow made my phobia worse, as I will hallucinate people coughing. I’m afraid to go into a hospital of some kind, even if my psychosis gets bad, because there might be people with bulimia there.

Am I a danger to others or myself? I really don’t want to hurt anyone and I wish I didn’t have this phobia, but I can’t seem to help it makes me violent toward myself/wishing I could be violent to others. I’m being treated with antipsychotics (seroquel) but it’s more for my psychosis, and it doesn’t take away my impulses.

Am I a Danger to Myself and Others?

Answered by on -


You apparently are suffering from multiple problems. Emetophobia is the fear of vomiting. Misophonia is a hatred of a particular sound (often chewing, coughing, breathing, etc.). And you’ve been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder. That makes you a very, very complicated patient to treat.

This is a terrible burden for you to manage on your own. I’m glad you are seeing a prescriber for medications. That’s a positive way to start. But I hope you are also seeing a psychologist to talk through your feelings and to help you learn to cope with what may be neurological disorders. A cure may not be possible but coping certainly is.

I wonder if a treatment that includes a distraction technique might help you manage being with other people. Techniques such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) or self-hypnosis might give you some relief. Do talk it over with your mental health provider.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Am I a Danger to Myself and Others?

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Am I a Danger to Myself and Others?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 28 Sep 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.