Koumpounophobia Support

Koumpounophobia is a phobia of buttons. I will not use the “b” word again as a lot of sufferers do not even like to read the word. Who suffers from koumpounophobia?

This site aims to inform people about koumpounophobia. It will become a valuable resource to sufferers looking for support, treatments, and general information.

Koumpounophobia affects people of all ages and is a lot more common then most people think.


NAMI says talk therapy is often effective in treating anxiety disorders such as phobias. The most common forms of talk therapy are behavioral therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy involves relaxation techniques and gradual exposure to the thing or situation that causes the anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy tries to help people figure out why they’re reacting as they are, and then change the thought patterns that lead to that reaction. APA says cognitive behavioral therapy techniques can desensitize patients to the triggers of anxiety, and help them to confront their fears.

Exposure to the feared situation can be actual or imagined. Recently, exposure can even be done through computer simulations. For example, APA says Virtual Reality Exposure (VRE) allows a user to be an active participant within a computer-generated three-dimensional virtual world. VRE can be useful is situations such as fear of flying or fear of heights.

Medications, such as anti-depressants, may also be used in cases where phobias are interfering with a person’s ability to function. Many people with anxiety disorders also benefit from joining a self-help group. The key is to realize you’re not alone; that phobias are a very real and a very common problem, and that help is available.

NIMH supports research into the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses. Studies examine the genetic and environmental risks for major anxiety disorders, their course-both alone and when they occur along with other diseases such as depression-and their treatment. The ultimate goal is to be able to cure, and perhaps even to prevent, anxiety disorders.

Several parts of the brain (Read about the brain and its anatomy in “Brain/Mental Health/Nervous System”) are key actors in a highly dynamic interplay that gives rise to fear and anxiety. Using brain imaging technologies and neurochemical techniques, scientists are finding that a network of interacting structures is responsible for these emotions. Much research centers on the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure deep within the brain. The amygdala is believed to serve as a communications hub between the parts of the brain that process incoming sensory signals and the parts that interpret them. It can signal that a threat is present, and trigger a fear response or anxiety. It appears that emotional memories stored in the central part of the amygdala may play a role in disorders involving very distinct fears, like phobias, while different parts may be involved in other forms of anxiety.

Other research focuses on the hippocampus, another brain structure that is responsible for processing threatening or traumatic stimuli. The hippocampus plays a key role in the brain by helping to encode information into memories. Studies have shown that the hippocampus appears to be smaller in people who have undergone severe stress because of child abuse or military combat. This reduced size could help explain why individuals with PTSD have flashbacks, deficits in explicit memory, and fragmented memory for details of the traumatic event.

Also, research indicates that other brain parts called the basal ganglia and striatum are involved in obsessive-compulsive disorder.

By learning more about brain circuitry involved in fear and anxiety, scientists may be able to devise new and more specific treatments for anxiety disorders.

Sufferers stories

Hello, First of all I want to thank you for being sensitive while talking about koumpounophobia by not saying the word or putting any photos, I have noticed while doing this research that everyone talking about this phobia is putting photos which made it impossible for me to read it. Actually in our family this phobia is some how common, I used to cry when I was a toddler whem my mother try to put some clothes with buttons on me, and my mom figured it out fast because her brother had the same issue, my aunt as well but they both had it with some sorts of buttons and it did not effect their life that much. Me on the other hand can’t think about it, see a picture of it or even hear the sound of it hitting something. Even writing about it made me cringe. I fear to search in a wardrobe so I would not touch one by accident. I hate old ones and old clothes in general and it may have something to do with the fact that old clothes had alot of buttons on them. I could sense it once even though I didn’t see it, I was setting on a sofa and felt extremely uncomfortable, asked the owners if there were any bottuns in the sofa turned out there were a couple just under were I am setting.. Actually English is not my first language so saying the word in English doesn’t bother me that much but I could not speak this openly in my own language. I don’t fear of them but I feel sick when I look at one or think about one, I used to describe it when I was younger that I feel like it is in my mouth.. It is worse with big clear ones, the unattached ones, and if it sewed back with a different color string.. I can now wear buttons up but I try my best not to button it my self and I ignore the fact that am wearing that… Am sorry for my sloppy language, I just wanted to share my story maybe it will make someone else feel that they are not alone. I loved to read the stories of others, felt like it is not that awful to have this fear. Thank you,

“I’ve always thought that I was just crazy, I can’t believe that it’s a real phobia. I’m twenty years old and ever since I was little, I have never been able to touch buttons. My mom would get so mad because I would fight her, kicking and screaming, when she would try to dress me in some something with buttons, especially dresses. I don’t really have a problem with buttons on my jeans, well I don’t really have a problem with ONE button on my jeans, can’t stand button fly. It’s mainly with those small plastic ones that my problem lies. I can’t even stand to think about them, when I do my skin crawls and I feel an immense need to wash my hands. It really henders my life, if say a guy is wearing a button up shirt, I’m immediatly turned off. I can’t even hug people if they are wearing buttons. I really thought that I was insane, but I’m comforted knowing that I’m not the only one.?”

“I am an 11 year old boy. I don’t like buttons. Only the plastic ones. I want to puke at the site of one. My mom chased me around the house and I was screaming. I can wear a button down shirt I was in the boy scouts and can where the shirt but only if I have a shirt under it. A button doesn’t make me scared I just don’t like buttons. It makes me feel like there’s one in my mouth in the sight of a button.”

“Ever since I was 4 years old, I was disgusted by the sight of a button. Whether it would be on clothing or just lying around, I wasn’t able to touch it. I am only grossed out by the plastic buttons with holes, whether it’d be colored or clear (especially the clear ones). Although, I seem to be fine with the metal buttons like the ones on a pair of jeans.
I’m almost unable to do anything if I see one around or close by. If I do happen to touch one by accident, I have to immediately wash my hands with soap and warm water. I do not wear anything with buttons on them. Attending Catholic School during Elementary, were my dreadful years, only when wearing my uniform.
Any object that comes in contact with a button, will have to be washed immediately and thoroughly as well, or just thrown away, while using a pair of gloves and/or napkin. I’m already 21 years old, and thought that I would’ve gotten over it by now. But I haven’t! I think that I’ve gotten a little better because it doesn’t really bother me as much when other people have buttons on his or her clothing. (I just try to ignore it and avoid it.)
If the reality show, “Fear Factor,” had a category that involved me picking up a check of 10 million dollars, that’s taped on the bottom of a button-filled jar, with my bare hands, I would not be able to accomplish that task. Is there any way to cure this fear of mine and is there a medical term for it? ”

“I was thrilled when I read that there were at least 2 other submissions
for people who were afraid of buttons. I too have hated them for as
long as I’ve been alive, and I don’t know why. Like the person who’s
letter I read, It’s mostly the plastic ones that bother me, like on
button down shirts. Buttons on jeans are fine with me. I don’t think
my case is as extreme as the other guys because I can deal with other
people wearing them, and I don’t have to wash my hands, but I
cannot wear them. A couple years ago I tried to face my fear, so I
drove to a clothing store 3 hours away (to avoid bad association with
any of my favorite stores in case it went badly) and it’s a good
thing… I went in the store, and after about an hour I was able to put
the shirt on, but barely got the first button done before I threw it on
the floor and ran away. Anyways. I don’t really know why I wrote
you are already aware of this fear, but I was wondering if you had
dialogue with the other person who wrote because I haven’t been really
able to find any information on it… I thought I was the only person
afraid of them until I saw a lady on Maury Povich who also had a fear ofthem. So then I thought I was one of only two people. I don’t reallyhave any other unreasonable characteristics, so I was just wondering.

Sorry this letter is written so awkward, it’s not everyday you write a letter about this! :)”

“I too have a button phobia, although as I have become older I have learned to cope with it. But out of choice, I never buy/wear clothes with buttons on them! The big ‘four holers’ are the worst & especially detached ones. If I find a button just lying around I am liable to vomit (no joke!) All of my life people have found this most peculiar & amusing & I have been taunted with buttons throughout my childhood (including being forced to watch Button Moon)- just to see what I would do!!!

In fact, my colleagues button fell off her coat today & she was shoving it in my face to see what my reaction would be. She thought that it would be a laugh & could not believe that I my phobia is actually genuine! We decided to have a look on the net to see if I was a ‘freak or unique’ and I am now happy in the knowledge that I am not alone!!!”

“im so excited to find two other people who share my pain of an extreme dislike of buttons. it’s not that im afraid of them necessarily, i just really really don’t like them, and the thought of having to touch them makes me want to cringe. something strange though about my button fear is that ive always thought that buttons smell. i realize this is an irrational thought but it’s one i just can’t seem to rid myself of.””wow… was I ever shocked to find this site and find not one, but TWO people who are actually afraid of buttons like I am. Ever since before I can remember I’ve been absolutely disgusted by and afraid of buttons. It’s gotten slightly better since I’ve grown up, but it’s still there. I wont buy or wear button-up shirts unless I absolutely have to. I would love to find out what on earth could have triggered such an unusual fear. Is there any way I could be in contact with the two submissions already made or are they anonymous? I would appreciate any help you could give me. thanks!”

“I have feared buttons as long as I could remember. At first only my family knew, because I thought people would think I was crazy if they knew, now I tell people openly. I don’t touch them, because it would be like touching a cockroach. If I touch one by mistake, I would wash my hands for about 30 mins.. I get really disgusted when people have them in their mouth, how nasty is that.

My sister use to chase me around the house with a button, and I would run out the house screaming. But, it feels really good to know there are others, and it is a normal fear. If it has a name please let me know.”

“hello! just to say there are a few more button phobics out there! Ever since I can remember I have had an irrational repulsion and fear at the thought, feel, smell, and sight of buttons. Especially shirt buttons, the little clear plastic ones – like the others I can just about deal with jeans buttons and over the years have come to terms with having to encounter the evil little buggers in the course of daily life. But the scars are still there! My younger brother and sister would torment me in years gine by by throwing buttons at me and worst of all making me smell my mum’s button box.I have met a couple of other button phobics – one, a teacher, can’t bear the though of buttons in people’s mouths – the other is my younger cousin who lived at a distance from me so would not really know about my weird phobia! maybe there’s a button phobic gene! Would love any more info about button phobia!”

“I just stumbled onto your page searching for info on a “Plastic Button” phobia. My girlfriend is terrified and disgusted by plastic buttons – she thinks they’re “dirty, nasty, and wrong.” At first, I thought she was just joking – messing with my head, but when I started to push her on the subject, she got very upset – almost hysterical. She doesn’t even like to say the word button — she’ll put asteriks over certain letters when typing it (b***ons). I… can’t believe this is a real phobia, but seeing other people with the same phobia is just both shocking and amazing. Just thought I’d throw in my submission for her.”

“I almost lost it when I saw that there are other people who are afraid of buttons!! My mother has had that fear for as long as I can recall and I always teased her and didn’t believe her. I would often be a smart ass and chase her around the house with a button in my hand — she once fled from the house in just her nighty into the yard she was so scared. She says they make her queezy and she almost vomits when she sees them. Her clothes don’t have buttons either. This is bizzare — I am forwarding your site to her to show her that she is not alone! There are other Button fearing individuals out there just like her : )”

“Hello everybody,

Gee, today is my lucky day. Thought I was the only person in the whole world who is disgusted by buttons. Ever since I was a child, I detested those awkward disgusting little plastic creatures. I could not come near my dad when he put on a shirt to go to work. It was ok, when the buttons were covered by his tie, but mind you if one button was peering out of there. I would cringe and run.

Also ever since I was really little, about 2 or 3, I completely refused to wear buttoned clothes. Even if my parents or grandparents wanted to dress me with some shirt or cardigan, I would throw a tantrum and run away most disgusted. I don�t know when or why it started. I think I was simply born with it. It�s ok though to wear jeans, no probs. My family was always teasing me so does my boy-friend now. Every time he wears this fancy shirt with those ugly disgusting buttons on it, I can not even look at him. Looking at somebody�s buttons always makes me want to hold up my palm in front of my eyes to cover the disgusting view on this. Immediately I have to absorb “a non-button-area”, e.g. the sky or the plain floor, to sort of get rid of the insult in my eyes. I also think buttons smell. Even the word button is disgusting. I grew up in Germany to Czech parents. Even in those two languages the word for button makes me wanna vomit: in Czech it�s: knoflik and in German it�s: Knopf

Enjoy life, esp. without buttons. Have a nice day everybody, god bless all button-phobiacs. Thanks God I am not alone.”

“I too have a phobia of buttons showing all the symptoms mentioned by previous button phobics. When i was a kid my mother had to buy clothes with zippers rather than buttons, but i don’t seem to be so extreme now as i have to wear a shirt to work. Now it’s loose buttons that really freak me out, if i see them lieing on the floor, in a box, or beside food i’m likely to vomit. Still not too keen to feel them next to my skin. Very aware if my girlfriend is wearing them.
Glad to know i’m not the only one!!!!!!!!
Maybe we can start a club?????”

“I too am so relieved to find this site. I am not button phobic but my 3-year-old son is. I didn’t realise what it was until he was 18 months old and could begin to express himself. My earliest memories of him are all with his head on one side, pressed against his shoulder. I now know he was covering up the three buttons on the neck of his baby-grow. I am pretty sure he has never had a trauma getting his feet or arms stuck through gaps between buttons on his clothing, so I think I can safely say that his fear is irrational. I also know that the fear described on this site is the same (in differing degrees) to his fear because of funny details like
a) covering the buttons up helps (thank heavens for ties)
b) poppers and riveted jeans buttons are OK
c) buttons with obvious threading (especially ones with a trailing thread) are the worst
d) it is difficult to approach someone wearing the wrong type of button.

I believe that common phobias such as snakes, spiders, rodents, birds are genetic. I have never been traumatised by spiders or snakes but I can’t touch them, however I will happily play with a rat or pick up an injured bird. In the UK spiders and snakes are not poisonous but rats and birds are common disease carriers (sic: irrational) but my phobias could be plausible evolutionary aids.

I can only describe my son’s fear of buttons as being akin to my fear of spiders. It is irrational – not learnt, but there is no way it could be an ‘evolutionary aid’. It must be the transference of genetic phobia to a modern-day thing – possibly spider/button confusion. I there anyone researching this?”

“Oh my God!!! I don’t know that I’m not alone all this while. I have fear of buttons since I was a kid. Really hate that nasty thingy. If will definitely wipe part of my skin that came to contact with buttons. Like may others, I hate the plastic buttons that got holes in it..or any other buttons that usually found in shirts and pants. But like many others too, I don’t have any problems with buttons that the ones in pair of jeans..

I don’t hate the peole wearing buttons, but I don’t feel comfortable and easy around them. Lucky for me, most of my friends like to wear round neck T-shirts. Now I’m 21 of age, but still had not overcome my fear of this thing…”

“I have had a phobia of buttons for as long as I can remember. I thought that I was the only one. Everybody else had generic phobias of spiders, heights and so on, but I had this. I felt like such a freak when I had to be excused from wearing school shirts at school. There was no way that I could cope with wearing 20 of the horrible things. My mother had a job enough as it was getting me to wear a clothes item with just one of them. All of the other kids made fun of me, saying that I couldn’t do them up.

Other people have asked me if I was frightened of them, but I’m not. They disgust me and make me feel dirty and unloved. Press-studs are also a problem, and toggles-although not to the extreme degree as buttons. I could not even pick a button up in my hand if somebody asked me to and as a child, I would be repulsed by the sight of other people wearing them too. I would go up to them and ask them why they were wearing them, as I found them disgusting.

I often dread shopping for clothes. It’s so hard to find anything without buttons–especially coats. During my childhood, my mother had to cut buttons off things just so I could wear them.

Often when talking about my phobia to people, I laugh out loud. It seems ridiculous.”

“Sorry find it hard to write the word – buttons. I was amazed after reading your links that there are so many of us! I too have had a fear of them since childhood. I too have to wash my hands if I accidentally touch one. I too do not wear clothes with them on – nor do my children. Although they haven’t noticed yet that I never buy them clothes with any on! I too have been laughed at and had them waved in my face. I too really dislike the plastic coloured ones but find metal ones on jeans Ok and also some wooden ones. So great to know I am not alone.”

“I am very happy to know that I am not the only one with this fear of buttons. Not only am I not the only one, but there are MANY other people who feel exactly the same way as me! I don’t know how this fear started although my parents have come up with a few theories that I’m not sure if I beleive. I think its just some sort of irrational fear that came out of nowhere. I don’t mind metal buttons on jeans, but plastic buttons just gross me out. Although I know this sounds nuts……….. but I feel like buttons smell bad, and I feel like the air around a button is dirty, and anything a button touches is gross. When I was little I thought everyone was weird for wearing buttons and then I found out that I was the weird one for being grossed out by them. If I ever end up touching a button or touching something that I know a button touched I have to wash my hands thoroughly, and if there is no sink handy to do so in, I have to try to scratch off the “button grossness” with my fingernail as best I can. I am 19 years old, and I think my fear is not as severe as it once was. I got myself to wear a pair of pants that had a button on the inside of the waist part….so it touches your skin GROSS! I had to put a peice of cloth between my skin and the button, but I got myself to wear the pants! I am not the kind of girl that gets grossed out easily…..I mean I love snakes and lizards and have them as pets and feed them many different kinds of bugs, and I don’t mind seeing blood or watching surgeries, but the sight of a button ……that’s a different story. I was even grossed out by the little picture of a button you have at the end of the page. I think this fear is so odd and I am fascinated that other people have this in common with me. I would love to be able to contact any of these people if that is possible.

thanks, I love your site”

“I am so happy to find out there are people out there with the same Phobia as me. I have kept this a secret all my life because I thought it was a bit weird. Not even my mother new until recently. I don’t think my fear is as strong as others, but I have never owned a shirt other than the ones I had to wear for school and now work. If I could get away with it I would never wear a shirt again. I don’t remember any incident that started my fear, its not so much a fear, more complete disgust at the site and thought of them touching me. I can laugh about my Phobia now, and it makes such a difference to know that there is loads of us out there.”

“My friend found your website, saw others who had a button fear and forwarded it to me. I am now 40, have had my phobia since I can remember. I hate the word, I hate the things, they are just gross! I believe I’ve got better I can and have the odd clothing item with a button on it, but I shudder everytime I touch it. When I was a child I was forced to wear school uniform and it was just hell. Buttons that have dropped off something seem worse than ones attached. Clear ones with 4 holes are probably the worse for me. Jeans buttons are OK, no problems with that, I believe it has something to do with the holes, maybe? I have 3 children and I never ever dressed them in anything that had a button on. If I accidentally touch one I shudder violently. As I’ve got older I have managed to control my reaction to them and when someone is wearing something with buttons on it takes a lot of concentration for me to not react. While talking about my fear yesterday, my friend kissed a button on his shirt and I’m still feeling sick at the sight of it, thanks Guy! When explaining my phobia to others I liken it to touching and looking at cockroaches, buttons just make my skin crawl. Not sure of the connection but I do have another phobia, looking at masses of holes and bumps, imagine something magnified, like pollen, ughhh! Same feeling as buttons. Thought I’d mention it, in case other button phobics had a similar thing. I always thought I might have been a pearly King and Queen’s seamstress in a past life, perhaps we all were :o) Is there a word for it yet? if there is I hope it doesn’t have the word button in it!”

“Just to add to your list of button-phobics,

I have an intense phobia of buttons (I find it very difficult to say the word or even type it). I too am completely amazed to find there are others with the same phobia, I was always convinced I was the only one in the world who had this.

Ever since I can remember, I have not been able to touch, or even look at, buttons. I will never wear any clothing which has buttons, unless I have to (i.e. shirt for work, although wearing a tie to cover the buttons helps a bit).

When I was growing up I didn’t realise this was a phobia – I thought it was a natural thing to be afraid of, & I couldn’t understand why no one else seemed to be afraid too.

Like some other people have said, metal-type buttons (like on jeans) are no problem, it’s the small plastic type, especially clear & shiny ones, that are the worst. I find this really intriguing, that a number of us think exactly the same like this.

If I touch one by accident, e.g. in a clothes shop, I can feel my heart suddenly jump, & sometimes I feel like I’m going to be sick. If there are clothes lying around anywhere, I will always arrange them so that there are no buttons showing anywhere.

This phobia is a huge problem for me, as it affects my whole life. If I have to go somewhere where I would have to wear a shirt (e.g. a smart night-club), I will just not turn up & pretend I can’t go because I’m ill or something. I have never told anyone about this (except one person – ex-girlfriend), as I think everyone will just laugh at me.

My mum says I used to scream when I was very young & she used to pick me up while she was wearing buttons.

I would love to find out why I have this phobia, presumably some traumatic event when I was very young, & have even considered hypnosis to try & find out the cause.”




“I’ll have to echo everyone else. I am 49 years old, african american male, and I just knew I was the only one that had this phobia. When I was young if I found a button on the floor I would take a piece of notebook paper and manueuver the button on the paper, and dump it in the trash can. But I must say that now I can actually pick up a button with the tips of my forefinger and thumb and throw it in the trash, making sure it is covered up with something, so no will notice that the trash is defiled by a button. Also I used to have to wash my hands after touching a button, but now I just rub my fingers together and I’m fine. Still I cannot hold a button in my hand for a long period of time. Also if I have a shirt dry cleaned and the cleaners replace a button with a different button I cannot wear that shirt any longer. Also if they use a different kind of thread to replace that same button I cannot wear the shirt again. It must be thrown away (the entire shirt). Buttons are so disgusting to me that I don’t even want to get help for my problem if it includes handling them.”

“i can not believe that there are so many people out there with fear of buttons it’s unbelievable.i have never met anyone who has this phobia. only today at collage my class mates were making so much fun of me and treat to like its a joke and really funny. this started well for along as i can remember and like the others its every single one except jean ones. its so strange to actually hear that other people do to thought i was weird. anyway cant wear them touch them look at them say it. i have no clothing with them apart from my work uniform which i don’t touch but feel clostiphobic (don’t no how its spelt )in it. if i touch one i scratch my self so hard so it will come off that sometimes it bleeds and if i know my boyfriend has just touched one i wont hold his hand. and also if i touch something eg a book and start thinking that a person who touches them touched the book I’ll keep scratching my hand and washing. its making me cringe even writing about them. the funny thing is I’m studying a fashion course at collage but i refuse to sow one . I’ll use Velcro, zips or get my friend to sow one. I’m so glad i found this sight i feel like less of a weird freak now. thanks”

“I just had to write about the button phobia. I have had it since I can remember. My mom made me a dress with buttons when I was about 3 or 4 and I made her put it on me backwards because I hated them so much. Even still I could not stand to wear it. I don’t know if she knew why I hated it. My hatred is mainly the plastic ones with holes. I don’t like to look at them or touch them. I don’t mind the ones on jeans or the ones that have a shank in back. Except I really don’t like to touch the plastic versions of those either. I thought maybe that I was abused or something by someone with buttons on. I can’t even stand to say or write the word either. I have gotten better since I have grown up, but I will never wear a button down shirt. I also don’t like to touch stickers, tape or other sticky things. I cannot stand that sticky feeling. I thought I was the only weird one.”

“I was reading on your website about button phobias. My daughter has this phobia and I am really glad to see that there are others out there who also have it! The scientific name for the button phobia is Koumpounophobia.”

I am 45 years old and have had a button phobia since birth. It all started when a i was about 2 i opened a small sweets tin thinking they were sweets but in fact it contained buttons my mum used for dressmaking. I retched at the touch of them. Apart from when i was at school i have not worn any buttoned clothing , apart from jeans. I used to feel really uncomfy at school , also i had permanent goose bumps and felt nauseated at having to wear buttoned clothes , my parents knew about it but thought it was just a phase i was going through and that i’d grow out of it , as any parent would i suspect, but made me wear shirts when out of school if we were visiting anybody. A big problem for me is that whenever i saw/see a female that i really like i always end up being put off when i see her in the street next tme around or at some other point , as she is weraing a cardigan or polo shirt etc etc. I then go off her totally , thank goodness i never asked any of them out . I no longer bother fancying women now as i know i’ll be put off by these type of clothes. The thought of them touching my body after touching these accursed objects makes me feel ill and to this day i cannot understand how people can let their hands touch buttons and wear buttoned clothing.