Social Question

Nullo's avatar

Why do some people feel the need to retch upon seeing another's vomit?

Asked by Nullo (21944points) May 12th, 2010

This evening, my dog decided to return the day’s half-digested kibble. The cleanup nearly resulted in more of the same on my part. It wasn’t the smell (I’ve learned that lesson) and the appearance wasn’t all that bad, either.

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12 Answers

gemiwing's avatar

Removed by me until further research.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It’s puke. Do you really need any further explanation?

Theby's avatar

Next time you have to clean up vomit try smiling widely. Apparently smiling inhibits the gag reflex.

casheroo's avatar

I don’t know, but my husband is that way. I don’t think I’ve ever known him to throw up..even when we both have the same illness, he somehow holds it back. But, I tend to get sick that way, and he can’t even come near me. I then have to clean up my mess when I’m deathly ill because he’s a baby and he’ll start gagging and freaking out lol.

marinelife's avatar

Seeing or hearing vomiting certainly triggers my sympathetic vomit reflex.

Here is what Medline says:

“Sometimes, just seeing someone else vomit will start you vomiting, in your body’s effort to protect you from possible exposure to the same danger.”

deni's avatar

it doesnt bother me unless it looks particularly foul or smells bad. and it usually does smell bad. especially dog vomit. my german shepherd sometimes throws up in multiples puddles the size of a small lake, and the smell lingers in and out of the house for hours even after clean up. the smell is just in a class of its own and it seems to hit the gag reflex right on the head.

downtide's avatar

I don’t know why, but I am one of those people. I’m more affected by human vomit than dog vomit though.

marinelife's avatar

@downtide Read my answer. It is a natural impulse.

Berserker's avatar

It’s puke and it’s fucking gross, what do you expect?

I never puked upon seeing or cleaning up puke though, and that was long before my entrance into the medical field which is now totally testing every ounce of iron I have in my stomach.

perspicacious's avatar

It’s not “feeling the need.” It’s just unbearable. If I’m around someone vomiting, it’s likely that I will as well.

mattbrowne's avatar

Mirror neurons.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

If it’s not the smell then I don’t know why. I don’t like cleaning up after the dorg when she hurks on the carpet, but that’s only because it’s work that I don’t want to do and it takes away from time I’d prefer to do other things. But it never makes me gag. Even changing my kids’ diapers wasn’t a problem for me while they were infants; it was annoying to “have to do”, but not gag-inducing otherwise.

I’ve also often wondered why people reel, swoon, gag and / or faint at the sight of blood. I just get to work: stop the bleeding; clean the wound; dress it and decide what else needs to be done. Clean the walls and floor, maybe? It’s just work. (Of course, I’m one who likes to watch while the nurse sticks that sharpened pipe into my arm to take blood, too. It’s amazing that when it’s done right you can feel next to nothing.)

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