Kenophobia [fpq]

Space stars universe

Today Fandango continues his Provocative Question series by asking the following: Do you have any phobias? If so, have you had these phobias all your life or have they developed or evolved as you’ve aged? A phobia is defined as not merely a fear, but a extreme and/or irrational fear.

I have loads of fears ~ I am a very anxious person ~ but none are extreme or irrational, except one. I’m not sure this one has a name, but the closest definition I see is kenophobia, the fear of empty space. But mine isn’t a fear of any empty space, like a room… it’s a fear of huge empty spaces, such as a giant field or the middle of the ocean or outer space. Yes, I know these spaces aren’t empty, but in my imagination they go on for eternity with no break. This is not true of fields and oceans, in particular, but there’s the irrational part. I also get dizzy looking down from a great height, or even a picture of that, but this seems rational because it’s possible I could fall from a building, while getting stranded in the middle of the ocean is highly unlikely. And I am afraid of flying over the ocean (not that I like flying at all), even though I know you die before hitting the water…

Vast blue ocean

This phobia began around age 11, in the summertime, when my parents and I were driving back to New Jersey from Ohio and I suddenly realized that I would die at some point… and my mind would drift forever in nothingness… but I wouldn’t even know. I tried to talk about this with my parents and they brushed it off with unhelpful clichés, such as you don’t have to worry about that, it’s a long way off, everyone dies, etc. We weren’t religious, so I had no comfort from the afterlife fantasy and still don’t. I wish I had the fantasy, as I think it makes the idea of death more bearable, but I can’t make myself believe it sans evidence.

I stayed awake for about year and a half, obsessed with death and terrified of literally nothing. Now, I understand that I must have slept some, or else I really would have died, but it wasn’t much, and I was constantly exhausted. No one knew. My grades didn’t suffer, and after that first attempt to talk to my parents, I didn’t bother. Then, I forgot. Around age 13 (when I developed anorexia, which may or may not be related), I forgot about my fear of nothingness and became obsessed with new things, like calories, weight, and numbers in general. Ironically, anorexia can kill you and numbers go on forever…

Numbers forever eternity

Some years later, I remembered the phobia, and it still freaked me out. It expanded a bit to cover vast empty fields and ocean middles and total darkness (when you can’t see the walls), not just space, but it also receded a bit, in that I had the ability to make myself stop thinking about it after a few seconds of dizzy terror. Strangely, the man who broke my heart had something helpful to say: why would you want to be mentally aware forever when it’s so boring? He gave an example of the millionth issue of the New York Times ~ who even cares? Right! In fact, I already don’t care about the NYT. So boring.

Vast empty desert sand

I added a bunch of new images to my media library for this post, and we know that place is finite, even if we pay for a personal plan, but it seemed important.

©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

24 responses to “Kenophobia [fpq]

  1. Maybe I’m kind of weird, but I find the idea of dying just being the end to be quite appealing. Enough is enough!

    The idea of outer space scares me. Doing a space walk outside the space station is right up there with snuggling with a bathtub full of spiders on my list of things I would never want to do.

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  2. Nihiliphobia was a psychological condition which described a literal fear of nothingness.

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  3. There are plenty of things to be afraid of, but I guess I have a fear of hives–no not the skin welt yuck–but hives of insects (allergic to bees doesn’t help) and maybe the hive-mind, which would account for my raging phobia over the designs of an angry chunk of the people who currently live & (mouth)breathe in our country.

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  4. I wonder if other animals freak themselves out, or if it’s only humans? I know dogs can get separation anxiety… does that count?

    Daughter has a car phobia. She’s been afraid of being in a car since she was like 1 yr old, and we hadn’t been in any accidents or breakdowns…🤷🏼‍♀️ She mostly rides with her eyes closed now, and she will probably never drive.

    I don’t have any phobias but I find them interesting. I can kinda see where yours came from, but where did Daughter’s come from?🤷🏼‍♀️

    Cool new pics. I approve of the byte usage😝😂

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  5. I don’t believe in an afterlife. When you die, there is nothing, no awareness whatsoever, meaning that you won’t be aware of the nothingness that is death. I honestly have, throughout most of my life, not given much thought to death other than a hope that when I do die, it will be quick and painless and preferably in my sleep. But I admit that now that I’m a septuagenarian, I do think more about death, but it’s not so much a fear of death as it is a fear that when it does happen, I won’t have all my ducks in a row.

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  6. I’d never even heard of this phobia. So… does this mean that you won’t fly over an ocean, Paula?

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  7. Interesting phobia. Mine are relatively run-of-the-mill. I would say I’m a kenophile. I love wide, empty spaces because they have potential; the horizon that stretches off into the distance is opportunity, adventure. Exception: Water. Triggers my thalassophobia.

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    • Interesting! See, I love the beach, love the peace, the sound of the waves. No fear at all (not that I go in the water). But thinking about the entire ocean gives me the eeks. The beach is never empty though… there’s always stuff around breaking up the view. The middle of the ocean however…

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  8. This is interesting. I am actually affected somewhat by large buildings in empty spaces. Not super phobic, but I feel… uneasy. We used to pass this radio tower in a field as a kid, and I remember just being spooked by that thing. Apparently megalophobia is a thing.

    I’m fine being among skyscrapers, but a lone tower in a field, or a large wind fan on the plains? Creepy.

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