Scared of losing your mind?
If you are north of 50, it’s totally understandable.
Because you may have come across athazagoraphobia.
It is “the fear of forgetting or the fear of being forgotten or ignored”.
It afflicts those likely to encounter dementia, and those who will deal with it via a loved one.
Medical sites say it may be seen in spouses or caregivers of Alzheimer’s/dementia patients where the individuals believe their loved ones will forget them eventually, (or that they would be forgotten after the loved one has passed). It may even be triggered in childhood where one has been left alone or been ignored for long periods of time.
Rarely reported, but common, this is a phobia we should all be aware of when dealing with older family members.
Many sufferers report feeling “inconsequential or unsubstantial” due to the feelings they experience when left alone.
Medical site fearof.net says people with the fear of being forgotten phobia “tend to have low self-esteem and self-confidence”.
“Often, such people are inherently introverted, depressed or tend to lack the ability to interact normally in society. They are, by nature, shy and passive. At the same time, it is difficult for the person as she/he undergoes deep turmoil thinking repeatedly of ‘simply fading into oblivion’.”
The LinkedIn Man James Potter has noted people on his platform showing signs of the condition: “I am sure there are some people on LinkedIn who suffer with some degree of athazagoraphobia as they are constantly posting updates, sharing articles etc and generally bombarding their connections with stuff about them, saying ‘aren’t I great’ and more so that they won’t be forgotten.
“Unfortunately, this approach on LinkedIn tends to have the opposite effect in fact! It puts people off reading their ‘stuff’ (as they know what they’re going to say … again) and ignore it, hence ignoring them.”
Mr Potter asks whether “being seen to do something” on social media every 10 minutes is healthy.
British website gentside.co.uk says: “Being forgotten in a discussion or just being neglected by your close friends can cause this phobia to develop in your mind. By the end, people affected by athazagoraphobia lead quite complicated lives, since they suffer from constant self-inflicted psychological torture. They are always waiting for and expecting something from their friends such as attention, or even just a little message saying something along the lines of, ‘I’m thinking about you’, and they have a constant need to be reassured.”
Such conditions have flourished under pandemic lockdowns, where usually social people have been forced into more insular lifestyles.
Stuck on your own for weeks on end, why would you not fear being forgotten? A rational reaction could grow into a more serious condition.
Healthline.com says: “A direct connection, like a family member with memory loss, can bring about long-term fear and anxiety”.
Some ways to cope with fear of forgetting:
- exercise such as yoga
- focused breathing techniques
- balanced diet
- using a thought diary
- having a support system
- learning to lower stress by avoiding triggers of phobia.
Have you experienced athazagoraphobia? If so, please share your experiences in the comments section below.
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