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.
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).
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.