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I was enjoying a pleasant brunch with a friend this past weekend when we ran into an old pal of hers named “Tom” who is an actor and a regular cast member on a hit TV show. We invited Tom to join us and he accepted.

Soon, we were enjoying our food and engaging in the standard industry small talk when the discussion somehow took a more interesting turn. Tom told us he was suffering from apeirophobia, which he explained to us was the fear of infinity.

Fear of infinity? I had never heard that one before. I’m familiar with a lot of the more common phobias and I have a minor fear of heights myself, but this sounded, well…weird.

So how does a fear of infinity manifest itself?

Tom explained that the symptoms first started when he was a teen. His family was very religious and he’d attend church or church-related activities several times a week. Whenever the youth minister would talk about the kingdom of heaven–the eternal life that all good Christians would enjoy after they died–Tom started to have what he called mini-anxiety attacks. The idea that he’d be around for an eternity (i.e. infinity) and that there would be no end to his existence and he’d go on forever and ever—freaked him out.

“I know for most Christians that idea of eternal life is very reassuring but for me…I just couldn’t deal with it,” he said.

So to his parents’ dismay he stopped attending church services regularly and eventually the symptoms subsided. At least for a little while. About a year ago, they came back. Stronger than ever and no longer needing to be motivated by church sermons or anything else for that matter.

“I’d just be lying in bed and start thinking about the eternal life thing and just lose it. I’m sure my wife thought I was crazy. I had a successful career and a great marriage and family–life should’ve been great but this thing was eating away at me.”

Tom told us he was getting professional help and learning to deal with his phobia. He said he was much better these days and even recently sat through the film Groundhog Day, which he would not have been able to do before because that film represents the apeirophobic’s worst nightmare: Bill Murray plays a man stuck in the same repeating day (Interesting trivia: although an early draft of the script said Murray’s character was stuck in the same day for 10,000 years, the Obsessed With Film blog calculated that he repeated that same day “only” 12,403 times or for 34 years).

The day after our brunch, Tom emailed me a list he had compiled of unusual phobias from other people he had met or heard of. Here are a few of them:

peladophobia: fear of bald people
pediophobia: fear of dolls
coprastasophobia: fear of constipation
aulophobia: fear of flutes
genuphobia: fear of knees
pentheraphobia: fear of mother-in-laws
lutraphobia: fear of otters
arachibutyrophia: fear of peanut butter sticking to mouth
metrophobia: fear of poetry
pupaphobia: fear of puppets
ombrophobia: fear of rain
homiliophobia: fear of sermons
linonophobia: fear of strings
pternonophobia: fear of being tickled with feathers
parthenophobia: fear of virgins
plutophobia: fear of wealth
rhytiphobia: fear of getting wrinkles

All I can say is that is just wild–who knew such things existed? Thanks and good luck to Tom as he works to overcome his phobia and to anyone reading this who suffers from any of the conditions listed above.

22 Comments

  1. i can understand that…death scares the bejeezes out of me.

  2. Your friend probably shouldn’t watch Inception or look at the number 8 sideways…

  3. @Ching, actually the fear of death is necrophobia or thanatophobia and fairly common as far as phobias go. This is different, it’s not a fear of death, in fact, I’m sure most people who suffer from this would “welcome” death as an end. This is actually about not dying in a way–that even after death, you’ll continue to live on for eternity.

  4. Great. Now I have this phobia.

    Thanks a lot.

  5. Pilipinogynophobia

  6. @KenoshaKid, is that a fear of Pilipino gynecologists?

  7. Ugh. I have had Apeirophobia for as long as I can remember. It pretty much sucks. I know it sounds ridiculous, but Groundhog Day is really hard to just think about without getting all paranoid. Even looking at a picture of space can be upsetting. It’s really, really difficult.

  8. I too have very mild apeirophobia. For me though one solution lies living in the moment and realising whatever happens is in the future. Also is the realisation that compared to the infinity small, I am allready infinite and eternal.

  9. I too have very mild apeirophobia. For me though one solution lies living in the moment and realising whatever happens is in the future. Also is the realisation that compared to the infinity small, I am allready infinite and eternal.
    One way to overcome your fears is to face them. The is a website by Johnathon Bowers called ‘Infinity scrapers’ which he describes very large finite numbers, larger than a googolplex, skews number or Graham’s number. In complating these large numbers I find a complexity not found in the simple transfinite numbers. It seems paradoxical, but very large finite numbers are harder for me to comprehend than small transfinite numbers.

  10. ever-expanding universe, oscillating universe, omega point , cyclic events, horizon, googolplex, multiverse, simulated world ,time freeze, …… so horrifying

  11. I myself suffer from minor Chronophobia (and it is very minor), so I can see how horrible fear of infinity could be. I also can see how some people have fear of mother-in-laws.

  12. I have apeirophobia. I remember the first time it hit me. I was around 8 years old. Now I’m in my 30s, and the thought of eternity still freaks me out. It usual hits at night when I’m trying to sleep. I’ve learned to push it out of my mind, but sometimes I can’t, and when that happens I start pacing the room and thinking that I might have to go to the emergency room or else I might kill myself. It’s a profoundly terrifying state of mind, and I don’t think anyone who hasn’t experienced it can really understand. To others it just sounds kooky, but I’m glad that it’s abnormal. It’s comforting to know that it doesn’t HAVE to be terrifying because it isn’t to most people.

  13. It is understandable, I get freaked out when thinking about how big the universe is. It is quite normal.

  14. I have this exact problem and it sucks reading this made me get paranoid, i only get paranoid when I think about it but when I do i feel faint.

  15. Oh I thought I were alone.Please help me. I have the same phobia.Thinking of “life at heaven that forever an ever” just scared me to death that I run no direction to calm myself….it makes me sometimes jump and want to scream as loud as I can…I have told my friends about this but they have no idea.

  16. I have repeatophobia. It is more serious than easily bored.
    It may ruin my life.

  17. I feel it most when im alone in my room and I think theres nothing underneath this earth why or how

  18. I love how theres other people who feel the same please help me call me 818 451 5875 xavier
    Or Instagram is @ecks23

  19. Hi, I used to face this issue too! something that helped me a lot was this verse- ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’- John 14:27. There may be things we can’t comprehend, simply because we are finites trying to comprehend an Infinite God. However, He does give us the promise of peace. Let not your heart be troubled or afraid!

    Also, if God created time- things can be created and destroyed (I’m not sure if time exists in eternity but…)/ Perhaps eternity is just another realm/ place/ home that we cannot comprehend because we were born into the creation of time and space!