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Nimis's avatar

Is there a name for this particular anxiety?

Asked by Nimis (13088 points ) July 13th, 2012

Just answered another question and it got me thinking.

Question: What are you paranoid about?
Answer: Not paranoia exactly. But I once had a panic attack when I thought about the amount of Earth that will likely never see sunlight again.

Strangely enough, I found out this runs in the family. Apparently I had a great aunt who went crazy one day and decided to tear up all the tiles in the house—with her very bloody bare hands.

So, is there a name for this craziness?
You know, something more legit than covered-up-Earth-a-phobia

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15 Answers

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t know the name but I am sure there is one and that other people have it as well. What I am curious about is what part of the earth will never see sunlight again, what does that mean?

I think everyone has assorted madnesses and phobias. They are only a problem when they affect the quality of your life and limit the way you live your life. As long as they only rear their ugly heads occasionally and you can control them when they do, then I don’t think it is anything to worry about.

Nimis's avatar

@rooeytoo Most everything in the city. Under the sidewalks, under the streets, under the freeways, under the parking lots, under the shopping centers, under the office buildings, under our homes. All covered up, more or less indefinitely. Never to see the sun again.

The trees that we do have were freaking me out too. The absurdity of poking little holes in this sea of concrete for trees to grow. Then chopping them down when their roots become unwieldy. All of it made me a bit hysterical.

Luckily, it only happened that one time.

Now, it’s more of a curiosity than anything else. Especially since I found out that I had a great aunt who had the same phobia. If it were something more common, I’d probably be less curious too. But it’s such a peculiar and particular phobia.

rooeytoo's avatar

I must admit I never heard of that one before, but now that you have told me about it, I will probably be freaking out about it myself next time the sun shines!!! I am very suggestible.

Thanks for sharing, seriously. :-)

augustlan's avatar

I’ve been searching and searching, but haven’t found a name for this one yet. It is an odd one, isn’t it?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I’d have to know much more about these peopled to assess their behaviour and attitudes.

Nimis's avatar

@rooeytoo Oh, dear!
@augustlan Me neither. But reading some of the lists of phobias has been entertaining.
I’d totally forgotten about anatidaephobia. Man, I miss The Far Side.
@Dr_Lawrence You mean for a diagnosis? It only happened to me once. I’m not terribly concerned about it happening again. I’m more interested in any scientific terminology for this phobia (if it even exists).

flutherother's avatar

That is curious. I can’t find a name for your phobia but it seems like a combination of several: fear of darkness, fear of confined spaces and fear of being buried alive, all of which are named phobias. It is odd that it runs in your family. Do you think your aunt was tearing up the tiles to let the daylight in upon what was underneath?

JLeslie's avatar

I doubt there is a name for that as a phobia, but you never know. It doesn’t sound to me like you are describing a phobia. I think it was obsessing that led to a panic attack. People can obsess about anything, it might seem totally ridicuous or unreasonable to the people around you to dwell on such matters, whatever the matters are.

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gailcalled's avatar

To catastrophize.

Buttonstc's avatar

I think OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) covers it about as well as anything.

For phobias, the naming comes from the object of the fixation (snakes, heights, etc.).

But people with OCD have so many different things upon which they fixate and they can change or the list can expand like first it’s obsessive handwashing, then it’s counting tiles in a floor or whatever. So trying to pin it down to one category is unworkable.

Also with a phobia, the phobia is fairly limited to just that one particular thing (or area such as medical) and it’s pretty uncommon for other specific phobias to accrue.

A person could have a phobia about needles in their veins but be fine with dental needles or flu shots etc. And there could be a complete absence of fear of most of the other things that people develop phobias about. This makes other people wonder why they just can’t get over their particular one since they’re perfectly OK around snakes and great about elevators or flying.

But those with OCD are rarely so confined to just one specific thing. In the case you described with your Aunt, I’m betting that this was just the most notable manifestation of her OCD and that she was obsessive about a number of other areas as well but since they didn’t cause her physical harm or bloody fingers, they sort of flew under the radar for much of her life. This one was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.

So, I think OCD would suffice to characterize this.

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc I don’t see where he is being compulsive. It just seems obsessive to me.

Buttonstc's avatar

I was referring to the Aunt as OCD. The OP just has OCD type tendencies (which can develop into the full disorder if left unchecked).

Her digging up the ground covering till her fingers bled was definitely OCD gone over the edge. The particulars of the obsession is largely irrelevant.

And someone can have OCDish tendencies but it’s usually only classified as a disorder (The D in OCD) when it interferes with someone quality of life.

And if someone is obsessive about something to the point of a panic attack (as the OP describes) that’s just the first step down the road to a full blown Disorder.

Fortunately no further steps were taken. But I do think that someone with a potential for OCD who recognizes this trait, can ward off it’s development into a life crippling pattern by not surrendering to the obsession thus avoiding any further steps down that road.

My primary point was that finding a unique name for a particular obsession is not as important as it is to recognize this obsessional tendency and nip it in the bud before it gains strength and blows the whole issue up further.

The next obsession may have nothing at all to do with this one. It could just as easily be handwashing or counting or whatever. But the fact that it’s a first step down the road to full blown OCD possibly screwing up your life is very important.

Forget about naming each and every obsession as that’s a red herring. Realize that giving in to whatever obsession catches ypur attention needs no other name than OCD type personality TENDENCY.

As a matter of fact, having that obsessional tendency isn’t always a bad thing if one is in a profession requiring obsessional attention to detail (like medicine, particularly Anesthesiology or surgery) it’s actually a great quality to have.

But just recognize the other side of the coin which is ending up like his Aunt.

I’m willing to bet money that the incident with her digging up tiles with her bare hands wasn’t the first time she had obsessional behavior tendencies becoming compulsive.

Had she received adequate treatment or medification earlier, perhaps this horrific incident might have been averted. Or maybe not.

It’s all too east for obsession to become compulsion if left unchecked. Naming OCD tendency accurately when it first rears it’s head may help to prevent it from going further.

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc Well, in my answer, my first one, I indicate basically the same, that I see it as an obsessive tendency, not a specific name for wanting earth to see sunlight. I agree it can lead to compulsive behaviors. My impression was the OP had the earth not seeing sunlight, and the aunt had the tile incident, two separate people. I think you are saying the same?

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