Mnemophobia (Fear of Memories)
Mnemophobia is the irrational fear of memories. Someone experiencing this condition may find that the mere thought of memories may give them immense amounts of terror and dread, especially depending on the content of the individual memory. In some severe cases, someone suffering from mnemophobia may even experience full blown panic attacks as a result of their fear of memories.
Though someone with mnemophobia may realize that their fear of thinking of personal past events is not innately “bad”, the intense anxiety that they experience as a result of it is often too intense for them to think rationally about it. Thus, they will often be left feeling very lethargic and anxious when unwarranted memories arise into consciousness.
Due to the reality that it is virtually impossible to consciously decide which thoughts will rise and not rise into consciousness, someone suffering from mnemophobia may experience intense bouts of anxiety on a regular basis. This is much different than someone who is suffering from a fear of puppets or a fear of rectums for example as these things can be easily avoided for obvious reasons. In the case of memories and thoughts however, these things cannot be as easily avoided. Though meditation may be able to significantly help with this.
So, as you can imagine, mnemophobia is quite unique in this regard and it may even leave someone to resort to the use of illicit drugs to help give them some sort of relief from their intrusively painful memories.
Symptoms of Mnemophobia
There are many unwanted symptoms of mnemophobia that can make day to day life for someone experiencing this mental disorder to be quite difficult. They may experience intense bouts of painstaking anxiety as a result of memories popping in and out of consciousness, as well as them unknowingly dwelling on them. In addition to this, their inability to control how they respond to these thoughts, such as being unable to resist the temptation of latching on to a particular thought or memory may also bring forth feelings of helplessness and shame.
Having a deep sense of hopelessness, as well as feelings of a lack of self-control may also bring forth feelings or symptoms of depression. Such an occurrence would only worsen their mnemophobia by exacerbating their symptoms of fear and worry. As mentioned before, it may not be uncommon for someone suffering from mnemophobia to also indulge in alcohol or some other form of drug abuse.
This is due to the difficulty they may experience with avoiding memories, which is akin to trying to avoid thoughts. From what we now know of the science of meditation, as well as our broader knowledge of neuroscience, such an endeavor is virtually impossible. So, with this being the case, someone suffering from mnemophobia may find it to be increasingly frustrating for them as they may not be able to abstain from thinking of the painful memories that plague them, regardless of how much effort they put forth.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of mnemophobia:
Intense anxiety when experiencing memories
Fearful of the idea of having memories
Inability to cope with strong emotions
Strong desire to alter one’s state of mind
Feelings of helplessness
Causes of Mnemophobia
There are no known causes of mnemophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play significant roles. For instance, someone who has a family history of mental illness, especially with anxiety disorders and phobias may have an increased chance of developing mnemophobia as opposed to someone else who doesn’t have such a history. Someone with a family history of mental illness may in fact be intimation that they also have a genetic predisposition for developing some sort of mental disorder.
If this were to be the case, then it may only take some sort of traumatizing event for them to develop full blown mnemophobia. Such an event could encompass literally anything that the mind could imagine as the mere memory of this traumatizing event may bring forth an immense amount of anxiety and mental anguish. We can see an analogous experience with those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Some other potential causes of mnemophobia are that perhaps they were already diagnosed with an anxiety disorder of some sort beforehand. For example, it would be quite plausible to think that someone who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), a disorder that is characterized by obsessive thought patterns, may get in the unfortunate habit of repetitively thinking of certain painful memories. Such an occurrence may develop into a full blown obsession. Thus, evolving into mnemophobia.
Mnemophobia Treatments (abridged)
There are no known treatments specifically designed for mnemophobia. However, talk therapy, exposure therapy, and medication may be able to help reduce the painful symptoms associated with this mental disorder.
Talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be quite advantageous for someone suffering from mnemophobia as it can help them to analyze the way they think about their memories in a more productive way, as opposed to mindlessly reacting to them. It can also be very beneficial as it can help the patient to learn coping skills for when their anxiety flares up.
Exposure therapy is another very advantageous form of treatment for people suffering from phobias. With the context of mnemophobia, it will be a little more difficult to use exposure therapy as the therapist will not be able to expose the patient to memories, for that is something only the patient can do.
However, there are still ways that the therapist can evoke painful memories to manifest within the patient’s psyche. This would all be an attempt to try and desensitize the patient from their intense fear of memories by having them repetitively exposed to them.
If you think you have mnemophobia or you are experiencing some of the symptoms described in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can get properly diagnosed and treated. Upon seeing your doctor she may refer you to see a specialist such as a psychiatrist or a therapist. Finally, remember to always talk to your doctor before you decide to take treating your mnemophobia into your own hands by taking medication or undergoing any sort of therapy.
Yoga Poses for Mnemophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from mnemophobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with mnemophobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.
There are many different types of yoga that someone with mnemophobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with mnemophobia.
If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of mnemophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Mnemophobia
MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from mnemophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with mnemophobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.
Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of mnemophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Mnemophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from mnemophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimeous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.
Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from mnemophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.
For someone with mnemophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.
To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of mnemophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.
Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with mnemophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Mnemophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as mnemophobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with mnemophobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.
The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with mnemophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their mnemophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with mnemophobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Mnemophobia
CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with mnemophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.
CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with mnemophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with mnemophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.
Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with mnemophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
Psychiatric Medications for Mnemophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe mnemophobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.
These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their mnemophobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.
These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as mnemophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of mnemophobia.
These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of mnemophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Exercise for Mnemophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including mnemophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.
According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of mnemophobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.
There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of mnemophobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with mnemophobia over time.
Limiting Caffeine for Mnemophobia
It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with mnemophobia to experience panic attacks.
So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.
Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with mnemophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Mnemophobia
DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like mnemophobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.
One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with mnemophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.
Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with mnemophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.
Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with mnemophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your mnemophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.