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Gerascophobia is a clinical phobia generally classified under specific phobias, fears of a single specific panic trigger. Gerascophobia may be based on anxieties of being left alone, without resources and incapable of caring for oneself due to age-caused weakness.
Due to humans being mortality salient, sufferers will often feel as though aging is the first sign that their immune systems are starting to weaken, which makes them more vulnerable and prone to diseases. They view aging as a human flaw, brutal slow-motion torture, decompositive decay, long-term disability, deadly chronic disease and the ultimate involuntary biological self-obliteration, rather than a natural progression.
Even children who get confronted for the first time with the idea of evanescence, finite healthspan, external dependence (e.g. medication drugs, geriatrics tools such as wheelchair, rollator, reading glasses), aging and its self-destructive effects, such as cancer and loss of health, presbyopia (loss of eye's self-ability to focus due to failing ciliary muscle), frailty, arthritis, and death could become gerascophobic due to cognitive dissonance.
Some sufferers are more likely to seek plastic surgery to cut and stretch wrinkles to make them look more youthful while the main concern of many other sufferers is the internal, biological long-term damage caused by the aging process.
Gerascophobists especially fear the fade of health, the risk of age-related diseases, and the inevitable loss of well-being which comes along with the aging process. This includes restricted individual mobility, reliance on prescription medication, tooth decay and loss of denture, loss of bone density, accumulating genetic damage, vocal distortion, the loss of body functionality (e.g. eyesight, which leads to reliance on external tools (i.e. reading glasses) that can break, malfunction, be forgotten and/or get lost), Cataract, Arthritis, Gastrointestinal disease (food digestion and issues and dyschezia, obstructed defecation), hydration malfunction, desert-dry skin, the increasing risk of kidney failure and cancer, lymphoma, permanent irreversible brain damage (leads to restricted environmental sensory perceptions, slower response times and weakened ability to think and make rational decisions), hearing loss, the loss of muscle mass (while fat increases), loss of fertility and potency; sensory deficits (including the ability to feel emotions), cognitive decline (forgetting, loss of remembrance (fading memories), clusminess, dementia, Alzheimer's, loss of mental chronometry and neuroplasticity), and the permanent loss of overall quality of life, all of which only gets worse and leads to a dead end.
Sense of purpose
Due to the currently irreversible harmful effects of the human-biological time bomb (or age bomb) that were mentioned above, a human being's physical capabilities and freedom become increasingly, permanently restricted by old age, which could lead to uncertainty and a fading sense of purpose for life.
Due to being weaker, lesser able-bodied and slower reaction time, thus lesser able to defend themselves, elderly people are an easier, therefore more common target for criminals such as thievery and robbery.
The term gerascophobia comes from the Greek γηράσκω, gerasko, "I grow old" and φόβος, phobos, "fear". Some authors refer to it as gerontophobia, although this may also refer to the fear of the elderly due to memento mori.
- Fountain of Youth
- List of phobias
- Mid-life crisis
- Existential crisis
- Video by science channel Veritasium (Derek Müller):
- “Becoming immortal - VPRO documentary - 2018” (2018-03-04)
- “The End Of Ageing (Medical Documentary) - Real Stories” (2017-11-10)
- BBC News documentary movie: “Can ageing be delayed, stopped or even reversed? BBC News” (2018-02-11)
- “How we can finally win the fight against aging | Aubrey De Grey | TEDxMünchen” (2017-01-11)
- How People Disappear by vSauce (Michael Stevens) (2013-09-25)
- Why don't we all have cancer by vSauce (2014-05-19).
- CGP Grey: “Why Die?”
- Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell:
- Why Age? Should We End Aging Forever? (2017-10-20)
- How to Cure Aging – During Your Lifetime? (2017-11-03)
- A Selfish Argument for Making the World a Better Place – Egoistic Altruism (2018-03-18)
- Optimistic Nihilism (2017-07-26)
- Definition of gerascophobia on MedTerms.com
- John G. Robertson, An Excess of Phobias and Manias, p. 90.
- 2015 StatNews article about aging
- Futurism.com article by medical experts
- Article by LongevityReporter.org from December 5th 2016.
- Quote from BBC documentary “Can ageing be delayed, stopped or even reversed? BBC News” by Unity Biotechnology founder Nathaniel David: "Everyone you know suffers from aging. Everyone."
- Quote from BBC documentary “Can ageing be delayed, stopped or even reversed? BBC News” by Unity Biotechnology founder Nathaniel David: "Anyone who tells you that aging is beautiful and something to embrace is either dishonest with you or dishonest with themselves. I see no beauty."
- FightAging.org article “The fall into nihilism”, 2017-07-25
- PsychologyToday article: The complicated relationship between disability and purpose
- Article from ConfinedToSuccess.com about lacking sense of purpose due to disability: Finding purpose when disabled.
- NJ.com article “12 disturbing ways criminals have targeted the elderly”
- Document by Marianne Pinkerton James from the Australian Institute of criminology: “The Elderly as Victims of crime, Abuse and Neglect”
- Perspectives on Aging, by Priscilla W. Johnston, 1982, ISBN 0-88410-734-5, pp. 239-241
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