"So what is it, beyond religion, that we are REALLY afraid of?
The answer, surprisingly enough, is "each other" and


By Daniel D. Ziegler

THE FEAR OF NUDITY, that is, the fear being seen naked as well as
well as the fear of seeing others naked, is among the most common
fears we have, yet it is not natural; it is  learned. Furthermore, it is among
the most limiting of fears in that it prevents us from leading full lives, even
though we seldom think of it that way. Let's look at its origins and then at
how it limits us, and finally how to lessen the negative influence it has in
our lives. First, however, I want to say a few words about fears and
phobias in general.

Many fears, when experienced at normal and rational levels are
self-protective mechanisms. Without them we would get ourselves in
many dangerous situations. Fear of pain is an example. We wisely fear
situations that may cause pain because pain usually means injury. Fears
that are unfounded, however, that is they are not linked to potential
danger and are therefore considered irrational, often are responsible for
us to lead unproductive and happy lives. Many of these fears are still
considered "normal, however," because most of us suffer from them. I
say "suffer" because not only do they not serve to protect us, they, in
fact, limit us, often in ways not thought of and unseen.  Fortunately, the
causes of these fears can often be identified and can quite easily be
dealt with using proper techniques.

At the extreme and abnormal level, irrational fears are called phobias.
Fear of nudity carried to extreme, is called gymnophobia or nudophobia.
Phobias can vary in degree of intensity and are often, not only extremely
limiting, but even paralyzing to our lives. Even the thought of them can
bring on terror or panic attacks. Phobias can have many different, and
often unexplained causes and should be dealt with by qualified
professionals. The fear nudity I'm talking about in this discussion,
however, although irrational to some degree, is still what we would call a
"normal" fear in that most of us have it but seldom does it cause us to
panic. This fear is based on known causes and can be corrected easily.

Like many fears we are not born with, the fear of being seen naked or
seeing others naked is not natural. As I said, it are learned. This can
easily be demonstrated by watching young children. A two-year old just
out of the bathtub is a free spirit whose spontaneous energy is difficult to
contain. Many of us still have images of our children running around the
house naked or even remember when we were allowed to do that. Then,
usually somewhere around the ages between 2 and 5, the rules change
as most parents begin to comply to the unwritten rules of society which
dictate that we are to be clothed when in the presence of others. Thus
begins the squelching of the fee spirit and the beginnings of what later
often becomes an unfounded and limiting fear.

Where do these rules about anti-nudity our society lives by come from?
Traced back, we can see they come from western religion and such
biblical stories as the Garden of Eden and the story of Noah getting
drunk and allowing his sons to see him naked. Whether we as
individuals are religious or not, our western societies in general are
highly influenced by these religious stories, and thus we as individuals
learn we must comply or we pay stiff penalties. Whether we consider
these stories to be factual or mythical, they eventually leads us to believe
that social nudity is destructive and that if practiced, will lead to the
decay and destruction of morals and society in general. Is this all true?
You decide if you want to believe all that but before you do, consider the
fact that in this country alone we have literally hundreds of family nudist
and naturist parks, camps and resorts operating peacefully with
hundreds of thousands of people of all ages, creeds, sexual
orientations--all naked. Around the rest of the world there are countless
places where social nudity is the norm. So much for the belief that social
nudity is destructive.

So, what exactly is it that we are actually afraid of?

The answer is simple. If we are religious, it makes sense that we are
afraid of a vengeful God' who forbids nudity. But if we are not religious,
what are we afraid of? As I said, we are afraid that nudity will cause the
destruction of society--our destruction. But, if it was really that simple,
why are there so many staunchly religious people practicing nudity in our
nudist parks and why are so many people in general so attracted to
nudity that the advertising industry is able to exploit us in by selling us
merchandise using nudity? Are the religious nudists just weak people
who can't remain "faithful" or are we really not all that afraid that nudity
will cause our destruction? It doesn't seem that we are. No, there seems
to be some sort of deeper understanding, even among the religious, that
nudity is inherently natural and even healthy. So what is it, beyond
religion, that we are REALLY afraid of? The answer, surprisingly
enough, is "each other" and "ourselves."

Let's go back to the example of the child. Sometime usually after the
age of two, the child, who up until that time has been free to be him or
herself, learns that now he or she must remain clothed or face
consequences. A few encounters with the rules of the society, even as
enforced within his or her own home, soon teaches the child to comply
or face the consequences of angry, or at least non-supportive parents. A
few such encounters introduces the concepts of shame, embarrassment
and guilt to the child, and it doesn't take many of these experiences
before the age of innocence is passed and the "normal" fear of nudity is
deeply imprinted within the child. The child is now afraid of the
consequences of nudity as imposed by "others" in charge. A
mechanism that will maintain a 24/7 conscious and unconscious lifetime
vigil to see that he or she remains properly covered at all times has now
been set into place. But not only for oneself, the victim will also become
an enforcer expecting others to comply as well, thus perpetuating the
fear. That our naked bodies, once a source of joy as a child, have now
become a source of shame, embarrassment and guilt as adults, can
only lead us to the next step in our thinking: Our body's must be flawed.
Thus we come to fear nudity because we fear the judgements of others
as well as of ourselves. What was once natural is now forbidden and
disgusting, and the resulting unnatural fear is now so deeply ingrained
within us, it is considered normal and natural.

How far we have strayed from our innocence!

How limiting is this fear of nudity in our lives? Perhaps more limiting than
we think. Without us even thinking about it, in our society, maintaining
this vigil to always be properly covered becomes perhaps the number
one priority in out lives next to survival. For the rest of our lives, with few
exceptions, we will be required to comply, or else!

Copyright 2008 Daniel D. Ziegler
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