When a person feels excessive fear of the natural aging process, we are faced with a case of gerascophobia or gerontophobia. All phobias have a denominator: the irrational fear of something. In addition to this general characteristic, it is an unnatural behavior , disproportionate and beyond the individual’s voluntary control . Some phobias are quite common, such as arachnophobia, claustrophobia or acrophobia.
Others are very specific, like trypophobia (fear of repetitive patterns in geometry ) or coulrophobia (fear of clowns).
Psychologists believe that fear of aging is related to the overvaluation of image and youth
It is evident that as one ages, negative effects occur: lack of physical agility, decreased energy and strength, hair loss, deterioration of vision and hearing, appearance of wrinkles, etc. All of this is accompanied by a change in overall physical appearance.
Some people correct their physical appearance with surgical touch-ups and thus achieve a better appearance. However, there are people who cannot stand the idea of getting old. This fear is obsessive and for this reason it is phobic behavior.
Gerascophobia is not limited exclusively to the issue of physical aging, as it is also associated with other circumstances related to old age: loneliness, suffering from diseases and the proximity of death
Individuals suffering from this phobia avoid contact with the elderly. They do their best to look younger and feel uncomfortable when asked about their age. This type of behavior usually begins to manifest itself around the age of 30, when the first wrinkles appear.
Differences between men and women
In the case of men, geroscophobia usually appears during andropause. During this period, testosterone levels decrease and a physical transformation occurs (hair loss, increased waist fat , lack of sexual appetite and loss of energy).
Many middle-aged men feel threatened by competition at work with younger men and begin to engage in physical activity to improve their appearance.
Also, a change in clothing or trying to seduce younger women is quite common.
In women this phobia usually manifests itself at the age of menopause. They feel insecure about their physique and tend to compare themselves to more exuberant and attractive women. When these behaviors are exaggerated and accompanied by an authentic aversion to aging, we can speak of gerascophobia in a narrow sense.
Some cognitive- behavioral type therapies can help to regain control of the situation. The therapeutic purpose is to provide psychological tools to accept aging in a natural way and avoid frustration and anxiety .
NLP techniques also allow for greater self-esteem and a gradual elimination of the obsession with aging.