Sunday, May 26, 2013


Chronophobia, or the fear of time, is sometimes known as prison neurosis due to its prevalence in prison populations. It is also relatively common among shipwreck survivors and others who are trapped in a high-anxiety situation with no familiar means of tracking the passage of time. Chronophobia is also reported by some older adults, as well as people facing terminal illnesses who worry that their time on Earth may be limited. Chronophobia sometimes occurs in the wake of a severe trauma such as a natural disaster, particularly if the daily routine is seriously disrupted. The phobia occasionally appears with no known cause, though it is relatively rare on its own.

The term was given profile in 1978 by philosopher Bernd Magnus via his reading of Friedrich Nietzsche’s understanding of the human fear of time and investment in the illusion of permanence (Nietzsche’s Existential Imperative Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp, 190-95). As the global and subjective condition of unsustainability has deepened and so become a more pressing problem the concept has gained increasing importance.

Symptoms of Chronophobia

Chronophobia is marked by a sense of derealization in which time seems to speed up or slow down. Some people develop circular thought patterns, racing thoughts and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Prisoners often mark down the days until their release.

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