is there a name for this fear?


I have a kind of phobia which I have not encountered in anybody else. It is the fear that I’m experiencing the peak of society and that from here, everything will devolve and get worse.

Academic research will be poor, medical care will get unreliable, democracy will lose value, and so on. This fear is not logical, which I assume is what makes it a kind of phobia.

I know within me that there is no real concern, yet I cannot help but feel guilt or fear.

You may be dismissing it as “not logical” too quickly. There are any number of things happening in the world (financial crises, resource shortages, radical Islamism, the demographic time bomb of low First World birth rate) that could lead to reasonable scenarios, of non-zero-probability, in which all the things you say you fear come to pass.

I’m not saying they will, and the smart money is probably that Western Civ. will muddle through and limp its way forward with stable or increasing quality of life. But it’s not crazy to wonder how.


I would call it future-phobia…

“Fear of the future phobia is a very common phenomenon. Your future is that particular zone of life about which you have no definite idea. In fact, it is one of the major human characteristics to fear the unknown and the unseen.”

I’m a layman, but the German term for this (not a medical terminus, though) would be Zukunftsangst (literally, “fear of the future”). Since the English language has borrowed the word angst from German, this might hold for compounds as well.

Obligatory link to

I think I know what you mean. The nagging feeling that we’re all doomed? This is all going wrong? The police did what now!? Doesn’t anybody care anymore? “New and improved” my a**, who buys such a cr**!? Are people getting just plain stupid? What, yet another reality show?

Nah. That’s not a phobia.

Hmm, fear of the future is close, but I don’t think that’s quite it.

Not the fear of, say, how your life will be when you’re getting old (or have an accident) and you have to move into a nursing home. — The fear to see today’s people, to see how their children get raised, and to know that those kids will care for you when you’re old. — And you don’t just feel sorry for yourself. Even more you feel sorry for those kids, because you know that they will only have their kids, and so on. You see those kids, the political atmosphere in which they grow up, their education, their fitness, their skills, their sorry excuse for a future. And you know that you can’t… change… a thing… about it? That kind of anxiety, right?

Yup, we’re totally fucked. Care for a drink, maybe a cigarette?

I believe what you are describing is called the Elektra complex - anxiety derived from not being able to prevent something that you know will come.

But that is not quite the case for me. I suppose future-phobia is somewhat close to what I have, since I am fraid of losing what I have and that can only happen in the future. I’m thinking, for instance, of the amount of knowledge possessed by the older generations. Will the newer generations be able to fill their shoes? The answer is probably that they can do it very well, because the education level has never been as high as it is now.

Or, with the social welfare for instance. Will future governments continue to treat it with respect or will it degrade?

You probably mean something like “Cassandra complex”, though that has connotations of anger over being ignored in one’s wild warnings and dire predictions… So then, I guess I’m not sure what you mean. But I suspect it’s not Electra.

“Electra complex” gets used as a female analogue of the “Oedipal complex”, in the psychosexual sense (though, of course, Oedipus’s whole problem was not being able to prevent something that he knew would come).

No, you were right. I was thinking of Cassandra complex, I tend to mix up the two.