• Mallory Garber

Facing the Fear of being Forgotten

Many people fear the looming thought of being forgotten, some may even call it a phobia, but can it be avoided? While there is no solution to forgetting, time capsules is one to remembering.

If there is one quality humans share universally, it would be fear. Nobody is actually “fearless.” It is how we use that fear that makes us different. Fear can be perceived in many ways. Sometimes we use fear as a mechanism to react to things irrationally. Sometimes we use it as a building block to overcome something. Over time fears can evolve into phobias. A phobia is defined as “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.” The list for these are endless.

Some of them are very rational:

  • Aerophobia — Fear of flying

  • Achluophobia — Fear of darkness

  • Androphobia — Fear of men

  • Arachnophobia — Fear of spiders

On the other hand, some sound like someone just made them up to mess with people:

  • Arachibutyrophobia — Fear of peanut butter

  • Chronomentrophobia — Fear of clocks

  • Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia — Fear of long words…ironic…

  • Papyrophobia — Fear of paper

and the list goes on and on. Like really? Who comes up with this stuff? In someways I believe we use these phobias as an excuse to get out of things we do not really want to do. Could you imagine being assigned homework and saying “I can’t I have Bibliophobia (fear of books).” Some of these “phobias” are just basic human nature:

  • Atychiphobia — Fear of failure

  • Atelophobia — Fear of imperfection

  • Dystychiphobia — Fear of accidents

  • Hypochondria — Fear of illness

One of those human nature phobias that serve to be quite prevalent is Athazagoraphobia — fear of being forgotten. Let’s be honest, the thought has crossed your mind at one point or another hasn’t it? The thought could have occurred while being the most noticed or when you felt the most alone.

For me, as I approach the end of my college experience, the thought keeps looming closer and closer. Who knows if I will ever be this version of myself again? I am finally at a point in my life where I feel young, motivated and confident. I know that those feelings won’t last forever and I fear that my youth will go unpreserved. I find myself unable to live in the moment because I keep grasping for the memory while I am living it. I am afraid the best years of my life will eventually go forgotten not only to those around me, but myself.

I think that is what I fear most: forgetting the parts I appreciate most about myself.

There have been actual studies about Athazagoraphobia, giving people a reason to believe they can actually have a diagnosis for this fear. Healthline provides an accurate theory regarding causes, symptoms, coping and treatment. They explain that,

“It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of phobias, but experts believe there are environmental and genetic factors linking specific phobias. This might include childhood trauma, like being left alone as a child, or direct family connections, like a relative with dementia, to specific phobias related to memory.”

Symptoms can range from being both physical and emotional. These include:

  • panic attacks

  • body aches

  • muscle tension

  • increased heart rate

  • increased blood pressure

  • dizziness

  • restlessness, nervousness

  • fainting

  • sweating

  • nausea

  • depression

  • avoiding social situations

  • lack of focus or concentration

Personally, I find most of these symptoms to be very common in day to day life, but I could understand why some may believe they could be linked to Athazagoraphobia. The most common ways to cope with these are to practice exercises like yoga, having a balanced diet, focused breathing techniques and facing the fear itself head on.

It is important, whether you believe this diagnosis is valid or not, to have a support system by your side. Regardless of the situation, your mental health is in better hands when there are actually hands to hold you up.

You may be wondering, “when is it reasonable to actively seek help for something like this?” The answer is “When the anxiety is chronic or so severe that it limits your daily life and activities or jeopardizes your health.

There is a difference between forgetting and being forgotten. According to, “It may even be triggered in the childhood where one has been left alone or been ignored for long periods of time.” Think back to when you were a child in the grocery store and you lost your mom. Perhaps Athazagoraphobia was instilled in both you and your mother in that circumstance. You frantically screaming for your mom fearing you have been forgotten, and your mom frantically screaming for you fearing she forgot you.

Some have no other option than to forget. you or someone close to you may have anxiety or fear of developing Alzheimer’s disease or memory loss. This disease is a progressive form of dementia. Most diagnosed patients develop Alzheimer’s after the age of 65, any time before this is considered early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Could you imagine having to prepare to forget?

NotForgotten is potentially quite useful in this regard. While it cannot prevent one from forgetting, it can preserve their most precious memories. No phobia needed when it comes to NotForgotten. Have Septophobia (fear of rotting)? That should be the least of your worries. With technologies’ latest virtual vaults, data can be preserved for up to 300 years.

Richie, a customer of NotForgotten, explains that,

“I regret not doing it for my dad, and my mom has early onset Alzheimer’s, now I’m doing mine so my sons will have one of me. No matter what happens.”

I once had the opportunity to volunteer with Alzheimer's patients. At first it began as just another requirement that came along with being associated with a club in college. It had been my first time meeting people who had to deal with the disease head on. Some were in worse conditions than others, but I was able to form conversation with a few of them. It is so evident that these people had lived extravagant lives. One of the patients, Esmerelda, stood out to me the most. She has three kids and a husband that frequently visit her. In her 20s she was a very well-respected pianist. I could tell from her petite fingers he love for the instrument. I offered to play a classical piece from her phone and although her mind could not grasp the melody…her fingers could. I watched them tap with rhythm as her eyes held slight confusion. Her body physically did not want to forget.

I’m no doctor, but I think time capsules could be a good additional coping mechanism for both those with Alzheimers and their families. In many ways building contents for these valuable family members become somewhat therapeutic, reassuring their loved ones that their high spirit will not be gone forever.

The stories I heard on that trip held a lot of power to me. I grew sincere respect and sorrow for the members of that home. Writing this blog made me think a lot about them. I wish I had known about something like NotForgotten when visiting the home. My past blog explains the benefits of holding fundraisers in efforts to give our elders the opportunity to preserve their memories in a time capsule. I think the blog serves especially relevant to the point I am trying to get across now.

The fear of being forgotten becomes less scary when you know your memories are kept safe.

There are so many things we face in a life time. In the end it does not matter if it is a phobia or not, we are allowed to be afraid. Life throws so many things at us and sometimes the oblivion and vastness of it all is overwhelming. In my opinion, the best way to go about Athazagoraphobia is by living in the moment. We can’t escape the inevitable of forgetting, so we should stop wasting our time worrying. Instead we can take the necessary precautions like taking pictures and making time capsules so that the next time we worry, we have the reassurance that our memories are out there somewhere.

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