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Folks Are Warning People With Emetophobia About a Triggering Plot Point in 'Knives Out'

Editor's Note

The following contains spoilers for the movie “Knives Out”

If you don’t feel triggered by graphic depictions of vomiting and are planning to watch the new movie, “Knives Out,” stop reading now — the following post contains spoilers.

But if you live with emetophobia, an intense fear of all things related to vomiting, you might want to skip this movie entirely, as vomiting is an important plot point in the film.

“Knives Out” is murder mystery created by Rian Johnson. The story follows detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) as he investigates the death of crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), who died mysteriously at a family gathering.

The film has been well-received (it has a 93% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but some social media users have taken to Twitter to warn people with emetophobia about the vomiting plot point. In the movie, Thrombey’s caregiver Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas) has a condition that causes her to throw up anytime she considers lying.

While most of us are grossed out by the idea of vomit, people with emetophobia experience anxiety and fear so intense it can actually disrupt daily functioning. To deal with the anxiety surrounding vomiting, people with emetophobia often engage in “safety behaviors” like triple-checking expiration dates on food, avoiding social gatherings where they might get sick and overcooking food to kill potential pathogens — all in the hopes of eliminating the chances of throwing up or seeing someone else throw up.

If you have (or think you have) emetophobia, you’re not alone. The good news is, like most phobias, emetophobia is very treatable. The “gold-standard” treatment for phobias is exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, which involves gradually exposing yourself to your fear and learning to tolerate it without avoidance or engaging in safety behaviors. A trained ERP specialist will very slowly lead you through a series of “exposures” designed to gradually acclimate you to your fear so it becomes less anxiety-inducing over time.

To find a therapist who specializes in ERP, we encourage you to use this therapist finder tool from the International OCD Foundation.

For more on emetophobia from our community, check out the following stories:

Header image via “Knives Out” Facebook page