Apeirophobia is derived from the two Greek words “Apeiro” and “Phobos” meaning infinity and fear or aversion respectively. Hence, it is the fear of infinity, eternal or everlasting things such as life, death, heaven and so on.
We are all going to die someday but for me, the mere thought of passing away and where I will be after I die creates a sense of discomfort and fear. There are different people out there who feel the same way that I do and that weird feeling is called Apeirophobia.
The world coming to an end and what happens to our physical bodies after death can trigger some deep and trivial thoughts. Getting to heaven and living in a paradise forever is a crucial aspiration to some while to others, it is completely upsetting.
It is normal to be afraid of one thing or the other but when what you are scared of starts to interfere with daily activities, there is a bigger problem to address.
SYMPTOMS of Apeirophobia
People with the incapability of controlling their own lives are more prone to the fear of eternity. It may however be beyond our capability to understand how eternity evolves.
The symptoms of phobias generally take different forms depending on the level of fear. Some of the common symptoms are;
- Loss of apetite
- Fast heart beats
- Obsessive thoughts of death or dying
- Complete avoidance of topics relating to infinity or enduring them with great distress.
CAUSES OF THEIR FEAR OF ETERNITY
- Learnt behavior: the fear of eternity has its roots with the word death. We might have been told different things that could happen in the afterlife. For example, different religious books, movies and people such as Armageddon and Left behind talk about Rapture, Heaven and Hell. Hell is believed to be a place where people suffer for their sins by being burnt in the lake of fire while heaven is a blissful place where you will glorify God forever.
These beliefs have a way of registering into someone’s subconscious especially in young children. Nobody wants to go to a place that he or she will suffer till eternity, be left behind in a disastrous world or sing church songs forever, constant thoughts about this will bring about intense fear whenever a matter is raised concerning the afterlife.
Constant thoughts could also lead to having nightmares which can be quite frustrating and terrifying.
Some science fiction films and books such as big bang theory can trigger this anxiety. They depict that the space is never ending, infinite and that dangerous things happen as human beings go extinct.
- Traumatic experience: abandonment, separation, neglects, emotional and physical abuses are ways by which someone can be traumatized. Being traumatized especially as children does not create ways of expressing fears. Hence, losing faith in everyone around you and even God. Losing faith in God will lead to questioning his existence and will bring only about a lot of questions and intense anxiety. Questions we might get confusing answers to due to different beliefs, for example what was here before the world was created and how did the whole universe come into existence?
- Genetics: this disorder can also be influenced by genetic predisposition. An individual who has a close relative with Apeirophobia is at a higher risk of developing it.
TREATMENT of Apeirophobia
Apeirophobia is highly treatable but it is effectively treated with psychological treatments rather than the biological ones. If Apeirophobia occurs in early childhood it has a higher chance of encompassing to adulthood if left untreated.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: this has been an effective method of treating phobias over the years. This process is undergone by a therapist and it works by decreasing the anxiety relating to exposure exercises, challenging fearful thoughts and replacing them with positive ones.
- Systematic desensitization; this is also known as exposure therapy and it involves a process where an apeirophobe unlearns the association between the apprehension and the stimulus triggering the phobia. A series of steps will be induced by a therapist, during which the apeirophobe will be exposed to pictures or talks about afterlife. Gradual exposure combined with relaxation techniques will make the fear diminish over time.
- Psychodynamic therapy: this therapy assists apeirophobes in understanding the nature of their anxieties and in exploring whatever traumatic experience they might have faced in the past. It exposes and reduces unknown psychological conflicts, increases the awareness of the sufferer’s underlying thoughts and helps them manage their psychological conflicts.
- Medications: medications will only reduce the physical symptoms of Apeirophobia and this is only temporal. Benzodiazepines such as clonazepam will decrease the anticipated anxiety prior to an exposure therapy. Beta blockers and antidepressant pills could also be used. Medications that slow the central nervous system to relieve uneasiness and stress may also decrease an anticipated anxiety.
- Online forums help a lot. Rather than carrying the entire burden to yourself and feel isolated why not share them with others. Those who have gone past this fear will share how they did and can even suggest better things relating to Apeirophobia you could learn from. A problem shared they say is half solved
Fear exists in every nook and cranny of the world and in every corner of the heart. In short, the world runs on fear which is one of our weaknesses but our strength lies in standing up boldly to those things that trigger our fear with the hope of overcoming them.
Your subconscious may control your fear but you have the ability to control it too. Although, it may take a while, being persistent will make you overcome Apeirophobia successfully and free you from whatever limitation it has placed in your life.
As humans, we all live and die on a created timeline. If you believe in an eternal afterlife, do remember that your loved ones will be there as well. The sooner you believe in something the sooner you find peace.