There are different types of phobias, some of which are really weird. For example, Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia or fear of the number 666, turophobia or fear of cheese, or uranophobia or fear of heaven after death. Today we are going to talk about another unusual phobia: apeirophobia or the fear of infinity.
But before we start talking about this phobia, and to better understand what characterizes phobic disorders, let’s start by briefly explaining what phobias in general are.
If you want to know more about weird phobias, you can read our article: “The 15 Rarest Phobias Out There”
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 in order to reduce the anxiety or discomfort that these people may feel.
Experts claim that certain genetic and environmental factors promote the development of a phobia. However, one of the causes that elicits the greatest consensus among researchers is that phobias arise because the person has had a traumatic experience (mainly in childhood), which is then associated with the element that causes fear. . This learning would be done by classical conditioning.
Want to know more about classic conditioning? We recommend our article “Classic conditioning and its most important experiences”
It is important to note that the association that would cause the phobia can be direct or indirect. We speak of direct association when this element (object, situation, etc.) was the very cause that led to a phobia. For example, if a child is scratched by a cat that he unconsciously bothered, and as a result of this experience develops a phobia in cats. Indirect association refers to when the fear seems out of place. For example, when a child has a vaccine phobia just because they know they are hurting.
Classification of phobias
Phobias can be classified as follows: social phobia, agoraphobia and specific phobia.
- Social phobia: This type of phobia is characterized by the fact that the person who suffers from it is irrational fear of situations of social interaction. For example, when he has to speak in public because 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 may experience strong anxiety when talking on the phone or eating in front of other people, so they avoid such situations.
- Agoraphobia: While many people think of agoraphobia as the irrational fear of being in open spaces like high streets or parks, it isn’t quite. People who suffer from agoraphobia experience strong anxiety produced by situations in which they feel unprotected and vulnerable when suffering from an anxiety attack. In other words, they panic that the situation is getting out of their control. The patient with this type of phobia is usually confined to the house as a form of avoidance.
- Specific phobia: The irrational fear in this case arises in the face of a stimulus, for example, a situation, an object, a place or an insect. Therefore, apeirophobia would be classified under this type of phobia.
Learn more about the different types of phobias in this article: “Types of Phobias: Exploring Fear Disorders”
Features of apyrophobia
Thinking about the universe and infinity can provoke certain questions or thoughts that are difficult to answer, which can cause us a certain degree of anxiety. Now, when this thought of infinity or of immense things produces in us extreme irrational fear and great uneasiness, then we are faced with a case of apeirophobia.
The concept of apeirophobia refers to an unusual type of phobia. We generally speak in all normality of other phobias in which their phobic object is tangible: phobia of spiders or phobia of clowns, for example. All of these objects or people can be touched and avoided easily. For some, imagining their endless phobia can even be tricky.
The fear of infinity can appear day or night. For example, when the subject suffering from it is so calm in the living room and an intrusive thought about infinity causes him a serious problem with anxiety. Or when he is in bed, trying to fall asleep, and the image itself causes him a strong fear that does not allow him to sleep through the night.
Apeirophobia is a type of phobia in which the center of the fear is something totally abstract, and not some living thing, particular landscape or object. This means that it depends on activities related to introspection and imagination, although its symptoms should not appear only when reflected in silence and with closed eyes.
There are certain experiences that enter us through the senses and, in some cases, they can make us think endlessly. These sensory stimuli depend on each person, but some of the most recurring are the sky, the sea, or endless number sequences.
Aperiophobia is experienced as a feeling of vertigo produced by the idea that by coming into contact with the infinite, there is no point of support in which the person can stay “anchored” and maintain some control of the situation. This idea makes it, in a way, similar to agoraphobia, since it also arises a wave of fear that the environment becomes inaccessible and impossible to control.
As apeirophobia is an anxiety disorder caused primarily by past traumatic experiences, it is necessary to see a mental health professional as soon as possible. the cognitive behavioral therapy or Mindfulness has been shown to be very effective in overcoming these types of disorders, although it is important to note that the symptoms of aperophobia almost never go away completely.
You can read more about these types of therapy in our articles:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: what is it and on what principles is it based?
- Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: what is it?