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What is aphenphosmphobia in Death Stranding?

Death Stranding Aphenphosmphobia
(Image credit: Sony)

You're here because you're wondering what aphenphosmphobia is in Death Stranding. It's mentioned early on in the game when Deadman meets Norman Reedus' Sam Porter but isn't really explained, although you can probably work out the general idea as Sam shies away from all physical contact in Death Stranding, flinching if anyone so much as touches him.

What is aphenphosmphobia?

What is aphenphosmphobia?

(Image credit: Sony)

So, in case you hadn't guessed it, aphenphosmphobia is a fear of being touched, although the full blown condition (it's a real thing) also includes a fear of being emotionally touched as well - commitment, being loved, human contact in general is enough to upset a sufferer.   

Aphenphosmphobia isn't a physical condition though, which Death Stranding confuses slightly with all the BT handprints on Sam's body, as well as one from a person he meets at the start of the game. In the story Sam just doesn't like being touched which is a nice metaphor, but in reality a phobia is a mental, not physical condition defined by an "overwhelming and debilitating fear" - something Sam doesn't demonstrate.

The condition is also more commonly know as haphephobia, which obviously isn't as fun to say as aphenphosmphobia. Haphephobia can sometimes have pain-like symptoms and is often associated with sexual assault, which might be another reason for the slightly more obscure naming variation used here. 

A more accurate condition for Sam, then, which would explain the physical impact it has on him, could be tactile allodynia. That's a neurological condition that can make touching physically painful, as well as other normal stimuli like temperature. But that's less of a nice metaphor. 


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In former lives Leon's been a scientist, a musician and teacher, stints that included a shoe full of liquid nitrogen, a small tour of Germany and oh GOD so much marking.