I have learned a new word today.
Athazagoraphobia is the fear of
being forgotten, ignored, or being replaced.
Ooooh boy, what a powerful word that relates to intense feelings held by soooo many dissociative trauma survivors. And since abandonment and neglect is often a huge and prominent part of the trauma history, is there any wonder?
First, let’s learn more about athazagoraphobia.
Here is a quote from www.fearof.net :
“Athazagoraphobia is a rarely discussed phobia. It means the fear of forgetting or the fear of being forgotten or ignored. Thus, Athazagoraphobia is of two types or has dual components: it might be seen in dementia patients in their early stages (or patients suffering from other medical conditions where memory loss occurs) where they fear forgetting their own identity and other things. Alternatively, 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 the childhood where one has been left alone or been ignored for long periods of time.
It is a surprising fact that this phobia, while rarely reported, is actually quite a common phobia.
Causes of Athazagoraphobia
As stated before, the fear of being forgotten can arise in childhood if the individual has been left alone or has been ignored for a long time. Many sufferers of this phobia report feeling “inconsequential or unsubstantial” due to the feelings they undergo when left alone.
Medical reasons, particularly dementia and Alzheimers’ etc can also trigger the fear of forgetting things. Often, family members of people with conditions like amnesia or memory loss fear being forgotten by the patient.
Thus, the disorder has two distinct components: fear of being forgotten and the fear of forgetting. In general, doctors believe that a combination of medical/genetic issues and negative traumatic past incidents are the likely causes of Athazagoraphobia.
Symptoms of Fear of Being Forgotten Phobia
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 s/he undergoes deep turmoil thinking repeatedly of “simply fading into oblivion”.”
Okay. Big word, powerful meaning. I certainly understand how this fear significantly relates for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.
However, it would be no surprise to me if many dissociative trauma survivors of long term, chronic abandonment and neglect also developed such phobia.
Here is additional information, as written on www.mostcommonphobias.com :
“Athazagoraphobia is the morbid and irrational fear of being forgotten. This does not refer to those who, for example, get stood up on a date, or have canceled plans. Rather, people with Athazagoraphobia are honestly afraid that people will ignore or forget that they even exist. They will also have an extreme fear of abandonment, although they are not the exact same phobia.
Symptoms of Athazagoraphobia
Symptoms will vary from person to person, simply because not everyone is alike and they differ on state of mind, level of fear, and many other personality characteristics. However, general symptoms include anxiety when making plans, anxiety when waiting on someone or something, over-attachment to people and objects emotionally, and constantly reminding others of plans or contacting them excessively.
People with Athazagoraphobia often also suffer from Obsessive-compulsive tendencies, especially when making plans with another person. For instance, they will need to plan out exact times and places, as well as have an established routine or schedule that must be followed exactly.
Now, if someone with Athazagoraphobia is, for instance, stood up, the other person arrives late, etc. a panic attack may set in. Panic attack symptoms include rapid heart beat, chest pain, difficulty breathing, weakness, fainting, dizziness, feeling a loss of control, tingling or numbness in the hands or fingers, excessive sweating, and chills.
Causes of Athazagoraphobia
Phobias are most often caused by some sort of trauma, which usually occurs during childhood but can occur at any stage in life. For example, if a child is abandoned, either a parent or parents leave or they are put up for adoption, they may be led to fear being forgotten. Also, someone who is stood up on a date or other event, any number of times, could develop the fear of being forgotten.
The presence of other psychological disorders or phobias could also be to blame. Again, the fear of abandonment is another phobia that occurs with the phobia of being forgotten. Also, while Athazagoraphobia could cause Obsessive-compulsive tendencies, the reverse is also possible. Obsessive-compulsive disorder sufferers need an exact schedule or routine and will often fear that something will get messed up, out of place, or out of order in this process.
Athazagoraphobia also does not necessarily have to have a direct cause. Nobody wants to be forgotten. Some people just fear this more than others, and maybe on an extreme level like those with Athazagoraphobia.
Treatment of Athazagoraphobia
Therapy, although it does not work for everyone, is a great first step option in understanding and treating Athazagoraphobia. Social or group therapy is especially helpful for these people, since it allows them to see that many people will not forget them and are there to be loving and supportive. Family therapy or relationship counseling also serve this purpose.
Medication is available to treat the anxiety that comes with this phobia. Furthermore, it is helpful during panic attacks. Medication can also treat other symptoms of panic attacks, such as chest pain or breathing difficulties.
Lastly, it is extremely important for friends, family, and those who make plans with an individual suffering from Athazagoraphobia to stick to a plan. They need to make a conscious effort to not cancel these plans or forget about them. Eventually, over time, the person with Athazagoraphobia will learn to build trust in those around them.”
Has this been helpful information for you?
When I read it, I knew I had to share this information with the readers of this blog. Many of you may be very familiar with the intense emotional pain felt and expressed in this fear.
What are your thoughts and comments about athazagoraphobia?
Do you relate in any way?
Please know I’m thinking of you, and wishing you the best in your healing journey.
You are not forgotten.
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
😮Oh my goodness I havent read this article before. But i can see some others of us did. I am trying to sound out that long big word!
This phobia EXACTLY describes us.
We need people even ones in our family to be consistent and show they remember us and stuff, also we have a big fear of forgetting things.
This sounds like all of us but ESPECIALLY mae, jadie, and judah, oh and my sister Rachel also.
Oh my gosh i just realized something else.😮 i think also that because we have this big big phobia we go out looking for ANY sign at all that it be coming true. like we see 1 tiny thing and it be just some thing that happen cuz life happen and we say SEE!! I told you it was true!! So even if we dont be forgotten we would THINK we do be.
The only thing i worry is, what if we really DO be forgotten and like what if this is a phobia becuase it do happen a lot. And like what if it comes true again. Becuase it happened so much.
I got to figure out how to help mae and jadie with that especially.
I am going to go look on you tube to see if there be any ways to cure this phobia.
Also this week we going to be out of town to somewhere that we feel forgotten and alone a lot. So it would be good to have extra strategies to help our selfs this week.
Thank you for this article it does be helpful.
Is it a phobia if its an actual thing that happens to you?
Well I feel *that*.
I just started doing research on this and I do believe I have it. I get scared when my best friend leaves for too long and even when she makes new friends, I get the fear that she’ll replace me with her new friend and even with her telling me constantly that she won’t I still can’t get rid of the fear. I feel bad because I’m affecting her life just because of my fear.
I think this fear may have developed when I was a kid, as a kid I had a bunch of friends but my friends usually forgot about me or replaced me with other people, because of that I’m terrified of the idea of being replaced.
I was fine with being alone until I met my best friend because being alone was all I ever knew, now that I have an actual friend tho I hate the idea of being alone and replaced by someone else.
Sorry for that long reply I just needed to vent mg feelings.
I related to your share. Thanks for being transparent and honest. It’s hard to have genuine relationships in this world. I’m glad that you did find a friend that you can be honest with. Enjoy it while it lasts. I talked to someone else who said sometimes we just grow apart naturally. I don’t know whether it’s natural, intentional, or absent minded but it hurts. It’s ok to not be ok. I’m happy that you’re still trying. You are stronger than you realize and more important than you understand. Stay beautiful.
Some of us actually feel as though we don’t stay in other people’s minds when we’re not in their company, we’re still always surprised when someone thinks of us when we’re not with them, mentions us to someone else or things like that, as if we do only exist for them if we’re right in front of them. Not sure what that means.
Yes! Thank you for putting it into words about not feeling valued in other peoples minds. Often times I have the same conversation with people and they may not understand until I said something that made them remember. For me I think about conversations with people and don’t just say stuff for sake of saying things. I sometimes think that’s what happens because people don’t know how to build relationships. As if just talking at someone is doing anything. I hope that you find people to value what you say and do and remember it later on. I believe a lot of the mental illness we see today can be cured by intentional friends and positive people.
Well, past friends who know littles inside us have told them, “I can’t see you, you just have (the system’s) body.” So off the bat, those kids who were repeatedly abandoned know that others will have a hard time remembering them…
I’ve been rejected too many times to count. Forgotten by a lot of people, including mostly everyone I grew up with. Been divorced after being honest with a vulnerability and pain I was going through. The one person I thought I could trust turned on me, took everything, and ghosted me. That was over 4 years ago. I never saw her again. I don’t trust anyone anymore. I hate getting too vulnerable because people use it against me. I have a deep fear of relationships or friendships. I never expect anyone to stay or love me. I always feel like I have to prove something. I need to go above and beyond to be liked. I can never have a problem with anyone because they view it as me being judgmental. I’ve also used to be left alone for long periods of time growing up. I rarely get visitors or even a phone call. People don’t go to my birthdays or events. Lately some people are making more of an effort and I appreciate that. For so long I am the one reaching out over and over just to be heard and now I’m tired and can’t go on like this forever. I have few friends and the person I’m most comfortable talking to is an anonymous online forum or a therapist.
Well, this was VERY informative to learn and has not only shed a light on our situation it has also helped ease a lot of shame and guilt. This has been a big part of life, especially the last few years and has always been attributed to pure selfishness.
Thank you for this. I am sure it won’t change the pain involved during these times, but it does help chip away at the self hatred and loathing that is already present and has been very much compounded by these behaviors.
We be in a hard place right now. The world we ushally live in feel far. Away. We be really afraid that the good pepol we no and care about have forgot about us. Them dont no what be going on with us. Them dont be around cuz we went far away for thanksgiving. We be afraid we been forgot about. And defanitly replaced. It make us really sad.. we feel invisabol.
It is hard when you feel invisible, Rachel….We have felt that sometimes, too….AND not being heard is scary, too….we hope you get to see your good people again soon…Holidays can be hard when there is so much activity and change going on…It can make you feel like you don’t know where you are….We hope you are doing OK now….We are here for you, too – along with your good people!…. 🙂
I have a genuine fear of being replaced. Like, if my friends get new friends, I’m happy for them, but I’m also scared they will forget about me…
Giary Swar says
Good writing. The blog was helpful and also very relaxing to read because of the way it had been written..not too crowded…. Presented in a beautiful way…
It’s real then, Athazagoraphobic .
At times i wish people would just forget me.
It’s safer to be forgotten than to be abused over and over again.
When being forgotten turns out to be less damaging than being seen, why would you have a fear to be forgotten?
Makes sense, Selah! Works great if that particular part was the only one at the front….but when there are others who are desperate to be seen and to be heard because the dismissal of your existence is excruciating…you can end up bouncing!
But I have to say….I definitely DO know the longings of wanting to be invisible and forgotten…. sometimes it is just plain easier than trying to function in an Outside World…..
Reading this was an eye opener for me. My dad physically abused me, and after that it was just explained to me that I wouldn’t be visiting him anymore. No explanation, or not one that I could understand, as I had just turned three. Just one weekend I was with him, and suddenly I wouldn’t be seeing him for the next twelve years. I’m irrationally terrified that people all secretly hate me, or that the second I’m not forcing them to think about me they won’t care what happens. I have no friends that I like or trust in real life, and four over the interne- only one of whom I have the chance of ever meeting. I freak out when anyone ever seems like they might be upset with me, and when the adults in my life get angry with me I’m so upset it’s sometmes physically painful. I dont know if anyone truly cares about me, and I’m terrified of what that means.
Oh, Al….we were told “he beats you because he loves you and wants you to be good”…..(talk about emotional conflict!!!!) By the time I was in my teens I could not say that “four-letter word”……..”frozen – Rage” would hit……but then – HOW can you feel “frozen” and battling “Rage” at the same time????….Go figure…..
We still can’t figure out what we did that was SO wrong….sometimes it was a “look” on our face….whatever THAT was….I am almost 65 and still get slammed with “panic” if I suspect that someone is upset with me….I need to know WHY so I can try to “fix” it – which only causes confusion and MORE anger with the Outsider…..I STILL don’t know “how” to feel “safe”….. or how to “trust”……..
Makes my whole adult life feel “irrational”, too…….
I just came across this article and relate to “Hi”…..having to ck and double ck and triple ck stuff…it creates problems on my job and I tell my boss “Sorry…I have some OCD” because I have difficulty getting out “on time”. I would faintly “remember” that I had already checked doors 3 or 4 times already and yet I STILL have to go check them again before leaving – because I’m not REAL sure if I imagined I checked them or if it was actually another night that I am remembering. On top of that – IF I try to MAKE myself be OK with remembering that I DID check them – I am afraid that I am “remembering” WRONG or that someone came along behind me and unlocked the door (deliberately) – so I will STILL be in trouble….. The re-checking can make my boss frustrated with me because I am not “obeying” rules in getting out on time (I have done multiple time-clock correction forms) – but I am then battling internal panic that I might be missing something – not doing my job “right” and then – WHAT will be the consequences of “disobedience” and “failure”…..
I don’t see too much evidence of re-checking in other areas of my life – but the struggle on my job MORE than makes up for it. It triggers off confusion, panic, distorted sense of time, fear of failure, fear of being unable to explain “why” much less ever being “heard”…..and it goes on and on…..as intensely as I am SO ready for my shift to end – I am also aware that there will be Internal turmoil during the actual leaving……nothing ever feels “simple” or “easy” for me……
Being “forgotten”? In one sense – I crave it because maybe there will be less triggering if there is NO interaction with people…..but anything that even “looks like” I am “invisible” triggers off a gut level panic that I still don’t know how to get through yet…..waves that tell me I have NO worth or value….am only an “object”….I have NO voice and would NOT be heard even if I tried (which I am not “supposed” to anyway)….my “body” exists – but NOTHING of “who” I am (whoever THAT is)…. the “dismissal” of my value and worth is excruciating…. and I am fighting to find a “crumb” of it as if I am going down for the 3rd time…..
All through my shifts I plow through triggers that totally confuse and conflict me….how can you SO need to be “seen” – yet, at the same time, be “terrified” that you WILL be?…..How are we supposed to walk through THAT?…….
My heart goes out to you that you have been so forgotten by others. That is an awful feeling I am sure. I just want you to know that I see your hurt and I am sorry that these folks are being so neglectful of you.
I also want to thank you for pointing me in the direction of this blog article Jo with your posting. I had never found this one on the DD website. This is another huge bonus of folks posting their thoughts on the DD site … it pulls up articles that we might not have seen before. Rather inadvertent team work … how wonderful!
I am gobsmacked by this article. WOW … do I relate to so much of what is said here. I was abandoned emotionally and physically and ssssoooooo relate to feelings of insecurity, unworthiness, fears … well, the list goes on. I am going to take another read of this article … or two or three … just trying to digest it all now. Thanks for this Kathy!
i keep thinking about this. there are some people we miss so much and think about them a lot, because they were important to us.
but we know we were not important to them, and now theyre gone, and i wonder if they ever, ever think of us, ever what what happened to us like we wonder about them,
i am so lonely. but i bet theyre not.
my family once again has completely forgotten me about something that i saw today on facebook. its amazing how i dont even cross their mind so much of the time.
when people go away, theyre just gone forever, but i am still left here.
we have it really a lot. it gets worse whenever we are gonna go visit our family.
we are sure that the good people we know will for sure forget about us and not talk to us ever again or think about us. they will just disappear.
All the Jill People says
There it is.. in a writing that was posted from my own name… and deleted from my awareness. Yep. Written right here on Kathy’s site, “Ine of my biggest fears is being forgotten”.
Definitely have that. And much MUCH more.
I’m slipping into someone’s trash truck.. disposed of permanently.
It makes me sad.. because I think I know where this comes from for me.
I’m sure Kathy knows this very well about me/us. After countless emails about don’t forget..are you still there.. the frantic and pleading emails… Gesh, Kathy. I’m so sorry….?
I didn’t know it was such a big problem until now…………
how do we get over it? for real? i need to know.
All the Jill People says
Oh Gesh our post somehow disappeared
I do believe that athazagoraphobia DOES NOT happen at all times. I feel that I may not have this phobia severely, but definitely at least mildly. What happens with me, is I extremely often times probe people for more information, mostly asking ‘why’? I genuinely like to know everything and everyone’s reasoning. I don’t really see how this might be a major factor, so let me inform further. I HAVE TONS OF LISTS. I always stick to a regular plan but sometimes I add things in and the routine gets longer. For example, when I shave my legs, (I know this is kind of weird to talk about), but I shave a strip, then shave that same strip again. Then I go to the next strip right beside it, and do the same thing. Then, I go in the middle of the two freshly shaved strips and do the same. It freaks me out knowing that I will most likely miss a spot. And I also rinse my hair like five billion times. I also put on a lot of stuff like lotion and hair sprays, and combing out my hair and drying it, and plucking my eyebrows and washing my face, after my shower. Once I am done I mentally tally and freak out a little while making sure I did everything several times. You can see how this can get in the way when I’m double (more like quadruple) checking my answers on an exam or making sure the bubbles match my packet, or making sure I did all of my homework. I also have a miniature panic attack when I KNOW or FEEL like I am forgetting something or if I lose something. When I read that this could be an early sign of dementia, I was like, ‘what’?! I don’t know what it is but I’m not sure if it’s something bad. I also am completely positive that I also have OCD. I just don’t know. ? Now I’m going to go reread this a couple of times to make sure that I didn’t miss any points.
I no wy pepl go awa
Bcos wer bad
Evn if we don men it we is bad
It mak ppl not lik us no mor
Evn if we tri to be good we stil cant do it
Ppl get tierd and lev us
We nevr can be good enuf
Ppl dont lik us wen thay get to no us
I cant read the big word but i did read lots of the other words
I thik we do got this rel bad
But what if it be rel and not just what you be afrad of?
Like i be afrad of snakes
But snakes relly do hert you bad bad bad
I got rel resins to be afrad of snakes
And bugs and spiders and stuff
So dont it be rel not a fobia becuz it be somhing rel?
I dont no wat missy men but her say pepol betr read that last pargraf bot how to help pepol that gots this becus ignorring pepol that gots this dont help and it be impotnt to do what you say
But her be in a bad mud and i dont no waht her men
I relly dont like snakes tho
Ps i sorry i did finish this hole riteng and then i see rachel alreddy rited on this 1 sorry.
Do it really be a phobia if it really hapen all the time? Dont phobias be of stuff you worry culd hapen but really dont? I am 10 i just want to no.
Erik P says
You are right that phobias are often being afraid of/worrying about something that could happen but usually doesn’t. As well, a phobia is when the fear or worry is so much (irrational) that it affects what you do or how you think.
It sounds as though you have experienced this, however; is it possible that it doesn’t happen all of the time? Sometimes it helps to think of times/experiences when someone remembered you or when someone did something for you (really anything) because that will remind you that someone somewhere does think of you and will never forget you.
It is always good to ask when you don’t know.
I’m thinking of you…
I’m not sure why, but somehow the idea of being forgotten almost seems blissful to me. It’s like, if other people can somehow forget me, then maybe I can forget myself. And if I can forget myself then maybe I can forget the horrible things that happened to me.
I feel the same way, Lisa. Tried to change this but the system refuses. Hopefully with more healing we will like who we are.
This sounds EXACTLY like mae. And rachel..and jadie..and missy…and, and, and..
especially the part about needing people to stick to a plan, and the part about thinking people will forget who they are. Someone in our life ALWAYS made sure we knew we were not important to anyone else and used to remind us “out of sight out of mind” – i think thats partly where these intense fears came from. plus, abandonment happened over and over again, and peopoe really DID forget us more often than not. Its a huge fear.
Samantha Jane says
Reblogged this on both sides of the wall and commented:
An interesting concept to think about.
I used to chalk my belief up to a weird perversion of object permanence, but I guess this kind of is that. I tend to believe if people don;t see me and interact with me regularly, they forget me. I get the impression it actually happens. I also fear that people find me really annoying and distasteful to be around. I have trouble reaching out to friends and family because I worry that 1) they hate me, and because of that, they 2) consciously try to forget me or remain away from me.
Lemme tell you, it frustrates my friends. I can’t tell you how often I get asked why I didn’t call or come by… How do you explain that you feel like people would rather gouge their eyes out than have to spend a moment with me?
But I digress. This is an interesting blog on a phobia I had not heard of beforem but one that makes perfect sense to me.
Samantha Jane says
I didn’t really connect to this until I thought of my belief that if I’m “out of sight, out of mind” and people literally forget about me. I still think/experience being “forgotten” but it’s not as pronounced as it used to be… I used to think of it as a weird concept around object permanence (or lack thereof), but this makes more sense. Thank you for posting this.
I have this fear as a spouse. My (diagnosed DID, ADHD and ASD) partner uses that exact phrase. Out of sight, out of mind. They forget we (4 kids and I) exist if they don’t see us. Probably comes more from the autistic spectrum stuff than anything else imo.
This fear is more than crippling at times, and always present. It so greatly affects how we interact with the world.
Maube it isnt just a fear or phobia. Maybe its a reality because it happens all the damn time.