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People Are Currently Clenching Their Sphincters At The Bookstore After This Doctor Went Viral For Talking About The Mariko Aoki Phenomenon

Dr. Joseph Salhab — also known as @thestomachdoc on social media — has caught the attention of over 21 million people on Instagram and nearly 6 million people on TikTok for his explainer on pooping while shopping:

In his video he says it is "a real phenomenon" that he only recently learned about. Some of his followers were telling him how, if they went into a bookstore, they would immediately need to use the restroom.

"Do you poop while shopping?" / @thestomachdoc

According to Dr. Salhab on Instagram/TikTok, it is unclear whether or not this happens because of the stimulus of smelling fresh coffee and books or feeling more relaxed. He then goes on to state that the anxiety of shopping at any store could also have a diuretic effect.

A person holding a roll of toilet paper and touching their butt
Seksan Mongkhonkhamsao / Getty Images

And he says that, through research, he found out some people go to specific stores every day just to be able to go number two!

"My husband has to poop anytime we enter Target, as well as of we spend more than 10 minutes in any other store (today it was a grocery store)" / @thestomachdoc

So, to divulge further into the details, BuzzFeed decided to speak directly to Dr. Salhab. He is a medical doctor who is double board-certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology. He has been practicing for 13 years.

Closeup of Dr. Salhab
Dr. Joseph Salhab

"In several of my past videos, I've shared advice with my followers on how to better regulate their bowel habits. When I came across comments about people feeling the urge to have a bowel movement as soon as they entered certain stores, I wasn't completely surprised. My experience with patients has shown me that there's a wide range of differences in bowel habits," he said.

A person using their phone while on the toilet
Antonio Hugo Photo / Getty Images

This is when Dr. Salhab referenced the Mariko Aoki phenomenon. It is the coined term for the sudden urge to poop in bookstores that dates back to 1985 Japanese media. "It seems that when people enter certain stores, they encounter a spectrum of emotions, and this array of emotions can sometimes lead to a sudden need to use the bathroom. Each person might react differently to the sights, smells, or overall vibe of a store, which could explain why they suddenly feel like they have to go."

A woman shopping in a store
Oscar Wong / Getty Images

While there hasn't been a lot of research explaining why the Mariko Aoki phenomenon happens, Dr. Salhab said it is still clear that it exists. "It's interesting to note the duality in the feelings it represents. For some, the calm and serene environment of places like bookstores can create a relaxing feeling, making it easier for them to feel the need to use the restroom."

A person in a bookstore flipping through a book
Law Ho Ming / Getty Images

On the other hand, Dr. Sahlab said the adrenaline and stress of shopping can be far from being calming for some. "It can trigger others into needing to have a bowel movement. It's a curious example of how our surroundings can affect our bodies in unexpected ways," he concluded.

A person on the toilet using their phone
Antonio Hugo Photo / Getty Images

So, for whatever specific reason it may happen, it IS a thing!!!

"It's the low quality cheap stores I shopped at when I was a teen!!! So re-lax-ing" / @thestomachdoc

OK, now tell us if this happens to you in the comments — and if you have a "poop" store, LOL.

"Yes.. we call it the 'the shopping sh*ts'" / @thestomachdoc