Agateophobia: “a persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of insanity or becoming insane”

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Warning: If you are reading because you like my fluffy kid’s say the darndest things pieces or my blessed-to-be-a-mom, tug at the heartstrings posts, skip this one. It’s a little darker than my typical post.

Anyone that knows me personally knows that I am utterly and completely fascinated by the study of the human mind. Not the mapped out brain, it’s cortex’s and functions, but the mind. How is processes, absorbs, what it forgets or represses, how it adapts. What role genetics play in, the role of trauma…everything about the human mind gives me chills. It is an amazing organ capable of more than we have the technological abilities to even begin to study. In each person’s variations of thinking and accepting and handling you will find that the brain is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

I could go on all day like this.

Being a person that has studied -extensively- the human condition, you would think that I would not be a someone inclined to the commonplace and very much (mostly) treatable conditions such as phobias. This is just not the case, however. Though my fear is not one that treated with gradual exposure therapy. My fear is of something that cannot be changed. I fear the past. Or more accurately, my genetics.

Sounds absolutely loony tunes, right?

Give me a moment to explain further. Psychology is ALL theory. Nature versus nurture being the number one argument in the field since the field of Psychology was created. As a quick and overly simplified recap: nature versus nurture is the question of what the driving force is behind our actions. Is it how we were raised combined with experiences? Is it encoded someway in our genetic makeup? Is it a combination as the “vicious cycle” of negative emotions of the father is passed to the son by experience since it is in the genetics originally? I have spent more hours than most people have spent exercising or bathing into studying case after case study of examples with compelling arguments for both ideals. There is no facts when it comes to the mind, which is why the subject is so enthralling.

Though in this day and age it is easy to see that chemical imbalances and sincere forms of mental illness are very capable of being inherited. While I am not going to go into a long and drawn out -pity the poor girl with the messed up family- tirade, these are just some simple facts that make me fear for my mental health in the sense of nature over nurture.

Father’s side:

Dad-severe, dibilating alcoholism

Uncles x 3- Suicide

Grandmother- Thyroid condition resulting in Mental care facility.

Grandfather- Suicide

Uncle- Severe alcoholism resulting in Death

Cousins x 4- Incarcerated (all had several children removed from their care)

Mother’s Side:

Grandmother- Anxiety, paranoia. Addicted to Valium whole life, incapable of loving more than “one child at a time”, admittedly.

Aunt- Married 9 times, incarcerated several times for various offenses, grown children won’t speak to her.

Cousin- In prison for child neglect and grand theft auto. 2nd Conviction.

Cousin- In prison for domestic violence and assault. 3rd conviction.

Grandfather- Arrested for putting guns to his family’s heads-more than once- while intoxicated (it was the 70’s, things like that weren’t as frowned upon in small towns). Picked up in an investigation of the “suicide” of his second wife, which they believed to be a murder with him as the main suspect. Nothing came of it. I have never met him.

Hello, Family Tree! This was not my favorite project in the 6th grade, let me tell you. But that is it. In black and white. Out of the whole lot only my mother seemed to get out mostly unscathed. But she was guarded and cold. Can you blame her?

The fact that I am terrified of my genetic makeup seems odd to people. One professor of mine stated that I have the general fear of madness (above mentioned in the title) though I wouldn’t say that is correct. My fear is that there is something inside of me that is dark -for lack of a better term- and that I would be incapable of controlling. I have never been prone to depression though I was an angry kid. And one that has always been prone to repression. I think of myself as a happy person, as a well rounded and balanced individual but I wasn’t always that way.

What if one day I wake up and I am crazy just like the rest of my family?

I went into the study of Psychology solely based on that fear. That the idea that one day I could be just like them might arise and I wouldn’t have the mental faculties to understand what it was. I excelled in school not for the GPA but the unwavering desire to be as knowledgeable about “madness” as I could be. What caused it, how it affected people, what the early warning signs could be.

I have seen terrible parenting on every branch of my family tree.

I was petrified when I was pregnant that I was going to be just like them. That I would be someone that my child hated just like most of my family has been. There is truly only a handful of exceptions. Like 3 out of 100. I have come to realize that I am not them, that I don’t know what made them that way. But that doesn’t stop me from fearing myself every time I lose my temper or raise my voice.

I find myself afraid of me.

I suppose I was just wondering if there was anyone else that is like me? Even in school it was a struggle to “classify” my fears. Fear of ones own genetic makeup. Fear of becoming mad. Fear of who you COULD be.

Has anyone else fallen off of the “crazy tree” and blossomed into a beautiful oak?

Photo Credit: common-phobias.com

Musings Psychology

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Amber Perea View All →

I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.

6 Comments Leave a comment

  1. My family history is very different from yours in some ways – but crazy nontheless. My biological father is a self-serving, violent alcoholic who abandoned me in infanthood. I’ve since had three step-fathers – all had their good points and bad (violence, and/or drugs, etc). My “Dad” being the man my mother has been with for the past 13 years or so. My uncles are alcoholics, my aunt is a recluse, and my other aunt was in an extrordinarily abusive relationship for more years than I can count – something I witnessed up close and personal far too often in my childhood. I’ve been (in some form or other) abanoned by pretty much every important person in my life at least once. I grew up around constant confrontation, violence, and alcoholism. I don’t even know any of my father’s family history – all I know is that he tried to shove me down a flight of stairs when I was four months pregnant with Kaleb.
    I’m hyper paranoid I’m going to turn out like the people I most desperately want to be the opposite of. Every time I lose my temper, every time I don’t catch myself before I start yelling – there’s a voice in the back of my mind screaming “Be careful! Watch that line you’re walking!”. At times I’m downright obessed with it. Pushing myself to do more, BE more – to extremes out of fear of becoming the people who damaged me most as a child.
    Will my kids have abandoment issues? Will they hate me? Resent me? Fear me? Am I too tough? Not tough enough?
    I end up sitting in my closet at 2am crying because I don’t know how to avoid what has felt like fate since the day I was born.
    It’s an effort for me every day to not fixate, and just enjoy. Because the logical part of my brain tells me they love me, and they know I love them. I show them that with every smile, every game played, book read, kiss and hug… But that doesn’t stop the devil in the background from wondering if losing my temper that time has canceled out some other action of love.
    I’m terrified of myself. But I have to swallow it and move on because they’ll pick up on that just as easily as they pick up on me being happy, or tired, or excited.
    You’re definitely not alone. And now I’ve written you a book lol, sorry.

    • No, thank you for writing me a book. You have a unique ability to be able to empathize without coming across anything other as helpful. It’s a talent…maybe you should have gone into Psychology!

      Thank you for sharing your story with me (and the world), it is very brave. I could most identify with your statement that your logical mind knows that you are good parent but you feel that one bad action cancels out a good. I feel EXACTLY the same way. I think it is why I crumble every time it happens. I always think of the things I remember before my parents divorced when I was 9.

      I remember the bad. It sounds terrible because my mom always tells me he was a great father when I was young…but I remember the time he threw the paint can through the window, the time he went ballistic and broke something, the time he put my cat in the freezer to “punish” me. Twenty some odd years later and it seems I only remember bad things. It scares me that that is what Jp will remember about me. Not that I am a big yeller, I’m really not, but it has happened. And each time I feel like I have lost a sense of control that terrifies me and just like you, I stay up late stressing and crying.

      And just like you…I pick myself up (mom’s don’t have time for pity parties lol) and tell myself that I’m human and mom’s make mistakes. That doesn’t mean I am never going “back into the closet at 2 am” but learning to forgive myself for my imperfections has been a big step forward in controlling my fears.

      Thank you for always taking the time to share and offer support! You’re awesome! 🙂

  2. I get this. 100%
    I have a degree in Psychology myself. I have a crazy family tree also (mostly on my mother’s side) and I have SEVERE anxiety about becoming HER. I hate it when people gush over “I have the best mom in the world” and I quickly change the subject. She had her own issues in childhood, and has come a long way when you compare her to her family, but I don’t want to be the kind of mom she was growing up. Unable to control her moods, yelling and screaming all the time, etc. It’s something I haven’t blogged much about because she reads my blog. When she dies, I will probably unload. Anyway, you are not alone. At all.

    • Yay! No wonder you blog is so wonderfully introspective! I think Psychology students are either a) made into over thinkers or b) went into it because they had inquisitive souls. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing your experience with your mom with me…it means the world to know that other people identify with my fears. I have always been told that it doesn’t matter, that I create my own destiny, ect. but as a fellow student of the human condition you KNOW, as I do, that sometimes crazy is born. Inherited mental conditions exist. That having such a prominence in ones history is a cause for predisposition toward mental illness (mathematically speaking). You can truly identify. The older I become, I have less fear -less- since I keep passing the prime ages for onset. It helps.

      I’m sorry to hear about your mother. My father was yeller, the screamer….it’s all I remember about him. He couldn’t control his emotions, used to cry in front of me constantly (I still can’t see a man cry without becoming uncomfortable, though internships taught me to control it). Whereas my mother was VERY controlled. Guarded. I never knew who I would be more like. Mostly I feel like my mom. Capable, reliable, and solid. But I don’t want my son to grow up and think I am devoid of emotion as I thought she was. As an adult I was able to see she came from a nightmarish past and I admired her strength.

      But that wasn’t until I was an adult and I don’t want my son to not understand or like me until he is 23!

      Thank you a million times over for sharing your story and taking the time to make me feel as though I am not alone! It means the world to me to know that I’m not the only one out there “Faking Picture Perfect”. 😉

  3. Oh dears, the river runs both ways. You are not your parents (for better or worse) and parents are not their children (though many try to live thru them). Some people find this impossible to believe and are quite disappointed…ie…marry the boss’s daughter and then you will be rich. Or, my parents are dirt poor/ dimwitted/ incestual weirdos…I cannot be trusted to have better. But everyone has their own set of life experiences, and everyone also has their own choices to make about how they will allow those circumstances (good or bad) to shape their outlook and actions. Look at people who are adopted, or horridly abused, or quite privileged…and then live very different lives from their origination. Do your best, and take none of what your children do personally. Raise yourself if you must from childhood, but don’t forget to be kind as you do it.
    Most importantly, you get to be here in this life one time. Give yourself permission to quit paying for the sins of others, and to be your own story…not theirs. ❤

    • Thank you for the lovely and thoughtful response. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Wonderful words of advice and support and thank you for your wisdom with me. 🙂

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