What comes after forever? A Scary Question for Some.
Scared of infinity? Is there a phobia for the fear of infinity? What is fear of infinity or the fear of endless space called?
Why yes there is an official phobia for the excessive fear of infinity or eternity, It is named Apeirophobia.
“Forever is a beautiful place to be.” While many of us might agree with the quote, there is also a fraction of people who would be terrified by the idea. Does this quote make you feel uneasy?
Does the idea of the infinite space between the galaxies or the never-ending value of Pi make you uncomfortable?
What is after space or the universe? A universe in a universe never-ending? These perplexing questions can cause misery for some. If you are one of these, you may suffer from apeirophobia.
Many religions prescribe the idea of eternal life after death. This idea of eternal life is not very convincing to those suffering from apeirophobia or the fear of infinity. These people have a difficult time grasping the concept of infinity or the idea that something will last forever.
It means to them that life’s struggles and problems will continue indefinitely, and that this drudgery will never end. The anxiety and panic that follow can be so alarming that they might lead to the person into severe symptoms.
Life with any phobia is difficult. It affects our everyday functioning and social lives at work and with friends. A mere thought manifesting itself at any time of day can send the person into a series of anxiety, heavy breathing, numbness, and panic. However, that does not imply that there is no way out of it. Every phobia can be cured or improved to such an extent that it becomes ineffective.
What causes apeirophobia?
How beautiful is the vast, limitless, and endless sky? Or is it? People with apeirophobia, may not consider it so. Such people prefer life to be predictable with a full stop, and eternity is not something very amusing to them.
Apeirophobia originates from the Greek words “apeiro”, meaning “infinity” and “phobos,” meaning fear. It is a rare phobia that focuses on something abstract instead of a living being, a landscape, or a specific object. Therefore, it implies it is linked to introspection or imagination.
Certain experiences enter us through the senses and make us think about the infinite. These sensory stimuli vary with each person, but some of the most commonly witnessed triggers are the sky, the sea, or certain numerical sequences that do not have an end.
Causes of Apeirophobia
Like most phobias, apeirophobia does not have any particularly unique cause. Some experts have attributed this phobia to various genetic, social, environmental, and natural causes. The inability to have control over a situation is linked to apeirophobia.
Apeirophobia is often associated with thanatophobia or the fear of death. People with apeirophobia cannot grasp the concept of infinity and are unable to control it. On the other hand, people with thanatophobia cannot handle the idea of death, not being conscious or alive forevermore. So these are like two sides of a coin. After all, the most well-known example of eternity is death.
Any traumatic event can give rise to phobia. If a child loses a close one and is told that they have ascended to heaven where one lives forever, the idea of not having that person anymore and having lost them “forever” can sow seeds of apeirophobia.
Such a traumatic experience can cause them to suffer scrupulous OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) for years. This constant thought of eternity turns into a plaguing concern for them. This develops into an irrational fear of eternity.
This phobia can also be a learned response. Children may learn it from parents or significant others who display similar fears. As children reproduce the behaviors of those they are around a lot, they pick up anxieties and phobias from those others, too. They usually pick the fear of a particular concept or object, in this case, infinity.
Genes also play a significant role in the development of anxiety and certain phobias. Being genetically predisposed to a certain phobia makes you more susceptible to catching it. A family history of a medically diagnosed phobia, especially among the parents, increases the risk of the children acquiring the same or similar phobia.
While there are numerous possible apeirophobia causes, genetics and environment are the top causes of the condition.
Symptoms of Apeirophobia
Apeirophobia cannot be observed or measured like responses to the fear of spiders, depth, or even death, which are tangible things. Ironically, you can find more information about apeirophobia on Reddit or Quora than in research laboratories. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t real or proven.
A phobic reaction starts when a person gets exposed to the specific trigger or situation that they associate with danger. This reaction results in a panic attack or anxiety and other symptoms. Most individuals with apeirophobia exhibit is the dire need to keep everything under control. This is an attempt to avoid confronting the concepts of eternity or infinity or nullify it.
Apeirophobia can cause physical symptoms like:
● rapid heartbeat
● difficulty breathing
● choking sensation
● tightness in the chest
● headaches and dizziness
● dry mouth
● urge to urinate
● ringing ears
● increased blood pressure
Apeirophobia can trigger panic attacks and may cause some or all of the following psychological symptoms:
● losing control
● feelings of dread
● fear of dying
● fear of harm or illness
● withdrawing from others
● feeling sad or hopeless
● feeling disconnected
● mood swings
● anxiety and fear
How to Overcome Fear of Infinity?
Self-Help – How to be Your Hero
How to overcome the fear of infinity? Once you acknowledge that you suffer from a condition requiring medical intervention, you have already conquered half of the trouble. Long gone are the times when phobias were treated as taboo and something to be embarrassed about. It is normal to have a phobia and wise to seek medical help to treat it.
Consulting a mental health professional is the best way to resolve the issue. But along with this, you can do a few things to ease the anxiety and manage the symptoms.
Therapy takes time to manifest results. If you lack patience, practicing meditation might help calm your mind and body. Insight meditation reduces anxiety and increases focus in human beings. Such mindful activities are beneficial to everyone, irrespective of any prerequisite medical condition.
A helping hand always pulls you out of trouble. Talk to your close family and friends. An honest and deep conversation about how you feel about your condition, the process of improvement, and your thoughts can make you feel lighter. Sometimes, a little validation from our loved ones is all it takes to sway away all the tension.
Professional Treatment for Apeirophobia
Specialists like psychologists or psychiatrists usually treat phobias with psychotherapy and medication to treat the anxiety. The need to prescribe more complex medication arises only in the most extreme cases when the patient’s normal functioning is inhibited.
There is no specialized Apeirophobia treatment available specifically for apeirophobia. However, exposure therapy and cognitive behavior therapy are the most widely administered forms of treatment for this condition.
Exposure therapy is one of the most common types of therapy for people suffering from almost any phobia. It works by gradually exposing the patient to their fear over time.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) assists in identifying connections between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. This eventually aids in the development of practical skills for dealing with anxiety-inducing situations. This therapy may also include desensitization therapy. Here, the individuals face their fears—in this case, the fear of infinity—in a controlled and safe environment.
You can also treat apeirophobia with hypnotherapy. One must select a certified professional with extensive experience in this field. Medicines, in addition to these techniques, may be useful, especially in extreme cases.
Apeirophobia can be tough to handle. Overcoming it begins with taking good care of yourself. Begin with self-help to manage your fear of infinity before it begins interfering with your daily activities.
Acknowledge, accept, and be aware of the fear. Talk to a trusted someone, practice relaxation methods, and finally, seek professional help if required.
With the right care, your fear of infinity won’t last forever!