What is aphenphosmphobia in Death Stranding?

death stranding aphenphosmphobia meaning
(Image credit: Kojima Productions)
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(Image credit: Kojima Productions)

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What is aphenphosmphobia in Death Stranding? In the opening hours of Death Stranding, Guillermo del Toro’s character, Deadman, mentions a condition that affects the game's protagonist. We're informed that Norman Reedus’ character, Sam, is affected by something called aphenphosmphobia. Deadman then moves right along with his exposition without the crucial bit of info.

If you're anything like me, you won't have encountered this absurdly long and complicated word before. So, well, what does it mean? You want to embrace the meditative qualities of delivering packages across a jaw dropping and beautiful world without such annoying questions burdening your brain, so I'm going to answer this question for you here with this quick primer.

Aphenphosmphobia meaning in Death Stranding

Aphenphosmphobia is the fear of being touched in both the physical and the emotional sense. It's also known as a bunch of other terms like Haphephobia and aphephobia. The reason why Sam has this fear is revealed over the course of the story—which we naturally don't want to spoil for you here—but in a world where getting attacked by enemies means pulling you under a thick layer of black tar, it's not surprising that Sam’s fear has stuck around. 

Aphenphosmphobia is also associated with victims of sexual assault and symptoms include, but are not limited to, trembling, sweating, chest pains, hot flashes, heart palpitations, and hyperventilating.

Rachel Watts

Rachel had been bouncing around different gaming websites as a freelancer and staff writer for three years before settling at PC Gamer back in 2019. She mainly writes reviews, previews, and features, but on rare occasions will switch it up with news and guides. When she's not taking hundreds of screenshots of the latest indie darling, you can find her nurturing her parsnip empire in Stardew Valley and planning an axolotl uprising in Minecraft. She loves 'stop and smell the roses' games—her proudest gaming moment being the one time she kept her virtual potted plants alive for over a year.