Monday, December 25, 2017

(LML) Fear from leprosy and lepraphobia

Leprosy Mailing List – December 25,  2017

Ref.:    (LML) Fear from leprosy and lepraphobia

From:  Arry Pongtiku, Papua, Indonesia


Dear Pieter,


Good morning, I would like to add and share about leprophobia. As mentioned in the Kaplan's text book of psychiatry that phobia was included in mental disorders. There are many clinical manifestations. It is caused by panic attack, anxiety, fear, recurrent and of course it is individual/personal response. My experience:


1. Leprosy patients who got reaction we usually asked to consul to a dentist for checking dental/ oral as one of trigger factors of reaction. Which was, however, always refused by the dentist and that those patients should be referred to the town for examination. I once visited the health centre and asked to the dentist why she refused to examine: she said leprosy patients are dirty. It sounded like leprophobia. 2. I went with one of the HIV district supervisors to a remote area. We found a man with pruritic skin, weight loss, oral candidiasis and diagnosed as AIDS patient. His wife just passed away. I spoke and touched the patient. However, the supervisor panicked and run away from me.... maybe he has a phobia. Speaking and doing in the field may be different from sitting in an office.

3. In 2003 I was trained as councillor of HIV. After training I practised my knowledge as a volunteer for helping sexual workers and transgender. However, my college already trained refused to join me a few times. He was afraid and maybe he had homophobia.

4. I walked together with a senior researcher and her pen was fallen and I would like to pick up the pen. However, she looked fearful and spoke aloud: throw it away. Finally, she said she had an obsessive- compulsive disorder.

5. I had a foreign guest and we had lunch and dinner together. She did not want to eat meat or chicken with a reason of it is like eating death or decaying body. Her body language showed like she was fearful.


My son when he was 6 years old. He suddenly cried out, hysterical after seeing my laptop about leprosy and wound care. I explained that your daddy work for leprosy patients and help people. I always asked my sons and daughter to talk with the disabled, the crimpled, the blind when we meet them. My children have a good developed social and human sensibility.


Leprophobia is slightly different from stigma. If patient feels shame and withdraw himself from society it is called self-stigma. If it is happened from family, neighbour or community we called stigma from community.


Leprophobia and self stigma need psychiatric or psychological approach. Stigma in community needs health education.


Leprophobia and stigma seem more happened in the town than in the rural. It is also affected by cultural and religious background.


Leprophobia and stigma not only can be happened in ordinary people but also in health workers.


Stigma of leprosy and HIV can be stronger if health workers treat them exclusively. It should be treated inclusively as happened in general.


Thank you so much. Have a great season at the end of the year. Wish you a merry Christmas and happy new year.




Arry Pongtiku

Papua -Indonesia


LML - S Deepak, B Naafs, S Noto and P Schreuder

LML blog link:

Contact: Dr Pieter Schreuder <<


No comments: