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Feldman, S.S. (1949). Fear of Mice. Psychoanal Q., 18:227-230.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:227-230

Fear of Mice

S. S. Feldman, M.D.

The immediate reaction of many persons to seeing or even thinking of a mouse is fear that they will touch, or, more often, that they will be touched by the animal. The presence of a mouse, alive or dead, appearing or disappearing, causes dread, anxiety, horror, with all the accompanying somatic signs and symptoms.

A young married woman found a mouse in her bathtub. She screamed, as did her nine-year-old daughter who was present. They were so afraid of touching the animal, after drowning it in the tub, that neither of them dared remove it. The mother attempted to pick it up with a piece of paper, but even thus protected she so dreaded to feel the body of the mouse, she called her husband from his office to do it for her. An elderly woman, a recluse for twenty years from morbid fears of cockroaches and mice, maintained she would rather encounter a lion than a mouse: the mere sight of a mouse would frighten her to death.

Many men have phobic reactions to mice but they are ashamed to reveal them because this particular fear is considered a sign of weakness—a feminine trait. Women readily admit it. Some women identify the fear as that the mouse will run up under their skirts, some men that it will run up inside their trousers. Men generally interpret the woman's reaction as fear of sexual attack, not by the mouse but by a man. Neither men nor women have a ready interpretation applicable to men. If a woman is known not to be afraid of sexual intercourse, the interpretation is corrected to mean that she is fearful of repressed, incestuous, sexual desires.

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