Apeirophobia: irrational fear of infinity
There are different types of phobias, some of them really strange. For example, hexakosioihexekontahexafobia or fear of number 666, turophobia or fear of cheese, or uranofobia or fear of heaven after death. Today we will talk about another unusual phobia: the apeirophobia or fear of infinity.
But before we start talking about this phobia, and to better understand what characterizes phobic disorders, we will begin by briefly explaining what phobias are in general.If you want to know more about strange phobias, you can read our article: "The 15 purest phobias that exist"
What is a phobia?
Phobia is a strong irrational and uncontrollable fear of situations, objects, activities or people . It belongs to the group of anxiety disorders, and its most characteristic symptom is the excessive and irrational desire to avoid objects or situations as a way to reduce the anxiety or discomfort that these people may suffer.
Experts say that certain genetic and environmental factors favor the appearance of a phobia. However, one of the causes that most consensus among researchers is that phobias arise because the person has had traumatic experience (mostly in childhood), which then associates the element that causes fear. This learning would occur through classical conditioning.Do you want to know more about classic conditioning? We recommend our article "Classical conditioning and its most important experiments"
It is important to note that the association that would cause the phobia can be direct or indirect . We speak of direct association when that element has been (object, situation, etc.) the same cause that leads to a phobia. For example, if a child is scratched by a cat that he unconsciously bothered, and as a result of this experience, he develops a phobia of cats. Indirect association refers to when fear appears displaced. For example, when a child has a vaccine phobia just because they know it hurts.
Classification of phobias
Phobias can be classified as follows: social phobia, agoraphobia and specific phobia.
- Social phobia: This type of phobia is characterized because the person who suffers it feels an irrational fear towards situations of social interaction. For example, when he has to speak in public, he is afraid of being judged, criticized or humiliated. This is a serious disorder that should not be confused with shyness. People with social phobia can feel a strong anxiety when talking on the phone or eating in front of other people, so they avoid this type of situation.
- Agoraphobia: Although many people think that agoraphobia is the irrational fear of being in open spaces such as large streets or parks, this is not exactly the case. Individuals who have agoraphobia feel a strong anguish produced by situations in which they feel unprotected and vulnerable when they suffer an anxiety crisis. In other words, they feel panic that the situation is beyond their control. The patient with this type of phobia is usually confined to his home as a form of avoidance.
- Specific Phobia: The irrational fear in this case occurs before a stimulus, for example, a situation, an object, a place or an insect. Therefore, apeirophobia would be classified within this type of phobia.
Characteristics of apeirophobia
Thinking about the universe and infinity can provoke certain questions or reflections that are difficult to answer, which can cause a certain degree of anxiety. Now, when this thought about infinity or immense things produces an extreme irrational fear and great discomfort, then we are faced with a case of apeirophobia.
The concept of apeirophobia refers to an unusual type of phobia . We usually speak with total normality of other phobias in which their phobic object is tangible: spider phobia or phobia phobia, for example. All of them objects or people that can be touched and easily avoided. For some, imagining the phobia of infinity can even be complicated.
Fear of infinity can appear both by day and by night. For example, when the subject who suffers is so quiet in the living room of his house and an intrusive thought about infinity causes a serious problem of anxiety. Or when she is in her bed, trying to sleep, and the same image provokes a strong fear that does not allow her to sleep all night.
Apeirophobia is a type of phobia in which the focus of fear is something totally abstract, and not a living being, a landscape or a specific object.That means that it depends on activities linked to introspection and imagination, although its symptoms do not have to appear only when you reflect silently and with your eyes closed.
There are certain experiences that enter us through the senses and, in certain cases, can make us think about the infinite . These sensory stimuli depend on each person, but some of the most recurrent are the sky, the sea or the numerical sequences that never end.
Aperiophobia is experienced as a sensation of vertigo produced by the idea that, as one is coming into contact with infinity, there is no point of support in which the person can remain "anchored" and maintaining some control of the situation. This idea makes that, in a certain sense, similar to agoraphobia, since in this also a wave of fear appears before the idea that the environment becomes inexhaustible and impossible to control.
Since apeirophobia is an anxiety disorder caused mainly by traumatic experiences of the past, it is necessary to go to a mental health professional as soon as possible. The cognitive-behavioral therapy or Mindfulness have proven to be very effective in overcoming these types of disorders, although it is important to bear in mind that the symptoms of apeirophobia almost never disappear completely.
You can know more about these types of therapy in our articles:
- Behavioral Cognitive Therapy: what is it and on what principles is it based?
- Cognitive Therapy based on Mindfulness: what is it?