Does This Photo Make You Faint?


Then you’re definitely a blood phobic. As a former one himself, John Sanford was curious about the physical response associated with the fear:

Observing blood seep from a wound, flow into a syringe or spatter on the ground, blood phobics initially will respond like other phobics — that is, their heart rate and blood pressure will increase. But then something else will happen: Their heart rate and blood pressure will suddenly drop, causing dizziness, sweatiness, tunnel vision, nausea, fainting or some combination of these symptoms. … why would the sight of blood, or for that matter the sight of being stuck by a hypodermic needle, trigger a physiological response that is so different — practically diametric — to that of other phobias? This is the mystery.

Rachel Nuwer examines some possible reasons:

Some say that fainting at the sight of blood may be the human equivalent of playing opossum—pretending to be dead so that a dangerous predator will lose interest. Others think that the physiological reaction some experience at the sight of blood may be an evolutionary adaptation. If a caveman got stabbed in the foot while out on a hunting trip, Sanford explains, he may have a better chance of surviving if his blood pressure drops, helping him to avoid bleeding to death. … So besides being useful for dramatic effect in the movies, it seems blood phobia—perhaps like the appendix or wisdom teeth—is an evolutionary throwback that has largely outlived its usefulness.

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)