Coping With Chiclephobia

The Fear of Chewing Gum

Teenage girl in sunglasses, blowing bubble gum

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Chiclephobia, or the fear of chewing gum, is a rare specific phobia that manifests in a variety of ways. If you're a chiclephobic, you're likely to have a fear of:

  • Actually chewing gum yourself
  • Coming close to a person chewing gum
  • The sight of previously chewed gum


Chiclephobia is a diagnosable anxiety disorder. As part of their initial assessment, your therapist will compare your symptoms against the criteria for an official specific phobia diagnosis as outlined in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Symptoms of specific phobia include:

  • Having a fear of a specific object or situation that is disproportionate to the actual risk
  • Being aware or unaware of your unreasonable phobic reaction
  • Experiencing your symptoms for at least 6 months


A traumatic event during childhood is one of the reasons why you would develop chiclephobia. You could have experienced this traumatic gum incident yourself, or have seen it happen to someone else.

You may have vividly remembered accidentally sticking a hand in gum that was stuck to the underside of a desk at school or having a bubble pop all over your face. Alternatively, you may have seen your mother choke on a piece of gum. Or maybe bullies threw pieces of Bazooka Joe at you on Halloween.

Fortunately, figuring out the traumatic event that causes your phobic reaction to chewing gum is not necessary for successful therapeutic treatment.


The general threshold for seeking help from a mental health professional for a specific phobia is if your phobic reaction interferes with your work, personal life, or necessary daily tasks.

During your initial visit, your therapist will ask you questions, written and/or oral, to figure out if you actually have chiclephobia or a different psychological condition, such as a fear of swallowing or choking (pseudodysphagia).

Other diagnoses like obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder with agoraphobia, and post-traumatic stress disorder can also mimic the symptoms of a specific phobia—a mental health professional can help tease the diagnosis out. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) interventions, especially exposure therapies, are clinically proven to be effective and are a common part of a specific phobia treatment plan. Exposure therapy means that your therapist will gradually expose you to your fear in a relaxed atmosphere you control.

It is important to understand that the ultimate goal of exposure therapy is not to eliminate all of your anxiety. Rather, the goal is to reduce your stress and avoidance behaviors by having you confront the feared object or situation in a systematic, controlled manner. Depending on the severity of your case, it's not unusual to meet your goals within one to three sessions.

Medication is generally not used to treat a person with a specific phobia.

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3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Specific Phobias.

  2. Galvao-de Almeida A, Araujo Filho GM, Berberian Ade A, et al. The impacts of cognitive-behavioral therapy on the treatment of phobic disorders measured by functional neuroimaging techniques: a systematic review. Braz J Psychiatry. 2013;35(3):279-283. doi:10.1590/1516-4446-2012-0922

  3. Eaton WW, Bienvenu OJ, Miloyan B. Specific phobiasLancet Psychiatry. 2018;5(8):678-686. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30169-X

Additional Reading
  • Hood HK, Antony MM. Evidence-based assessment and treatment of specific phobias in adults. In: Davis III, Thompson E, Ollendick Thomas H, Öst Lars-Göran, eds. Intensive One-Session Treatment of Specific Phobias. New York: Springer-Verlag; 2012.

By Lisa Fritscher
Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer and editor with a deep interest in phobias and other mental health topics.