The Ick Factor

Do you recoil at the sight of the big three:  excrement, ooze, or vomit?  You’re not alone. Across cultures and across time, people have known instinctively that these three items – mostly representing disease,  a loss of bodily fluids and/or spoiled food have been considered repugnant.

Where did these ideas come from and what does it mean for you?

We all just kind of know we don’t want to touch this stuff.  We want to wash our hands and clean our shoes if we step in it.  But where did these responses come from?

Dr. Valerie Curtis, Director of The Hygiene Center at the London school of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who calls herself a“disgustologist”, has made it her life’s work to study revulsion and has written a new book called Don’t Look, Don’t Touch: The Science behind Revulsion.

Dr. Curtis wanted to know why we recoiled from pus, urine, maggots, feces, and putrid flesh. And it is her conclusion that our healthy squeamishness protects us and has helped us survive. From an evolutionary viewpoint, revulsion protected our ancestors who knew to avoid

·         Death

·         Deformity

·         Disease

According to Dr. Curtis, In order to survive, mankind just knows.  It’s that simple.  It’s not intellectual.  It’s not something you have to think about or to process, your life force tells you the right thing to do.

Dr. Curtis found 7 triggers that will set off the Disgustologist in all of us:

1.       People we see who are atypical in size (like dwarves or physically impaired)

2.       People with obvious signs of illness, including oozing sores – even chicken pox

3.       Spitters and those who hawk up fluid from their lungs

4.       Signs of sexual infection and even sexual fluids

5.       Spoiled food

6.       Animals and insects that transmit disease: rats, mice and roaches

7.       Contamination that gives off foul odors or visual signs of putrifaction

What our instinctual brain is responding to are these:


chemical content



Of course there are some diseases and physical attributes that we have learned through education and tolerance that are not harmful and should be embraced as a society.  There are a number of ways you can go about avoiding some of the genuine dangers.  For me it was always about creating a safe and healthy home environment for my family.  I can’t control everything we’re exposed to but I can control what comes and goes into my home on the first step with Dr. Doormat. With so little effort you really can make a difference for your family too.

May Every Step You Take Be Healthy!

Best Regards,
Debbie Greenspan's signature
Debbie Estis Greenspan
Dr. Doormat, Inc.

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