‘It Makes My Skin Crawl...’: The Embodiment of Disgust in Phobias of ‘Nature’

Body and Society 12 (1):43-67 (2006)
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Specific phobias of natural objects, such as moths, spiders and snakes, are both common and socially significant, but they have received relatively little sociological attention. Studies of specific phobias have noted that embodied experiences of disgust are intimately associated with phobic reactions, but generally explain this in terms of objective qualities of the object concerned and/or evolutionary models. We draw on the work of Kolnai, Douglas and Kristeva to provide an alternative phenomenological and culturally informed account of the complex links between pervasive social categories and their emotional embodiment and expression in phobic individuals.



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Michael Smith
Manchester Metropolitan University