The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Stygiophobia (Fear of eternal punishment)

I just found out they have a name for my fear that causes me guilt and shame and panic. It’s Stygiophobia or the fear of hell as eternal suffering. In some very severe cases, a person suffering a panic attack triggered from Stygiophobia or Stigiophobia usually when exposed to its triggers such as hell can have one/or all of the following symptoms. I’ve experienced all of these:

fear of losing control

fear of fainting

feelings of dread

fear of dying

fear of harm or illness

guilt, shame, self-blame

Withdrawing from others

Feeling sad or hopeless

Feeling disconnected

Confusion, difficulty concentrating

Anger, irritability, mood swings

anxiety and fear

The symptoms of Stygiophobia are very similar to other specific phobias and will often include:

Avoid making mistakes
Inability to Relax
An Impending Sense of Dread
Problems Concentrating
Being quick tempered
Feelings of dizziness
Prickly sensations like pins and needles
Aches & Pains
Fatigued Muscles
Dry and Sticky mouth
Sweating Excessively
Migraines and Headaches
Poor Quality of Sleep

Stygiophobia Symptoms are generally automatic and uncontrollable and can seem to take over a person’s thoughts which frequently leads to extreme measures being taken to avoid the fear

This is what caused my psychotic delusions. Meth can cause permanent psychoses and flashbacks from having just one bad trip. The stress of fear shame caused me to flash back and snap. Here’s an article:

For some individuals, the psychotic state wears off as they come down from the drug. However, many users will note that after a time, meth psychosis remains far longer than the high from the drug, experiencing psychotic symptoms even when not using.

The effects of meth psychosis can last for just hours or days if you are “lucky”. Some people never completely recover and suffer from permanent states of psychosis or reoccurring instances that could be triggered with little to no warning.

I believe shame leads to substance use, isolation, anger outbursts, depression, anxiety, psychosis, cutting, suicidal thoughts/suicide attempts, and other maladaptive behaviors.

If you can hold onto the belief “I am a good person” even when you make a mistake, you are able to grow from your mistakes, rather than sink into a shame spiral.

A shame spiral is when an event triggers your shame and you are unable to control or stop your self-loathing.

Treating Anxiety Disorders with Psychotic Features

From the article:

To be most myself, I needed to focus on things outside myself, like the music or the people around me.

I also wrote about it here:

Living in the present and letting go gets rid of the fear for me. No worry or anticipation about the future. I do it with confidence. Doing it extremely afraid I always fumbled and made an idiot out of myself. I first accepted my true self as I let go and trust God. I get in what psychologists call flow. Athletes call it being in the zone. No fear in the moment. Only focus and hope. Here’s the paper above that I linked to on mindfulness.

Anxiety Reduction Techniques: Turning Your Focus Outward and Cultivating Mindfulness

By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 2 February 2015)

woman in park with hands raised

Woman Meditating, Image Courtesy of Photostock,

With panic disorder and other anxiety states, there is a tendency to become too inwardly focused and obsessed with imaginary future catastrophes. Those who suffer from panic tend to obsess about physical sensations and get into a negative loop of fearful anticipation, unrealistic thinking, increased adrenaline, and more unpleasant physical symptoms.

One of the best ways to deal with a distressing internal state is to shift the focus outward. Many people who suffer from panic attacks do this instinctively, seeking distractions such as television, books, music, arts and crafts, or conversation with others. However, it can be helpful just to become more interested in your surroundings, really examining the things around you (sights, sounds, smells, etc.), shifting your focus to these external elements and away from the internal and ever-magnifying obsession.

Use Positive Distractions

Often when anxiety attacks, distraction is the best way to treat it. Positive distractions that shift the focus outward include:

  • Socializing
  • Playing games
  • Exercising
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Listening to music
  • Writing
  • Doing arts and crafts
  • Solving puzzles
  • Doing things for other people

Make a Habit of Focusing Outward

There are a number of things you can do to make a habit of shifting your focus outward:

  • Join clubs or activities based on your interests.
  • Take a class to learn how to do something you’ve always wanted to do.
  • Do volunteer work.
  • Start a fitness program with a friend.
  • Become more interested in other people – get to know your neighbours and ask others about their lives.
  • Get out into nature – start hiking or engage in some other outdoor pursuit.
  • Take up photography, landscape painting, or any other activity that encourages you to really observe what’s around you.
  • Meditate by focusing on objects that have positive significance for you or on feelings of compassion and gratitude for those who have been good to you.

When you do find your focus turning inward, shift to thinking about what you need to do to cope, to relax, to feel better. What could you do for yourself right now to enhance your confidence or overall mood? How can you best take care of yourself during this difficult time? Engage in positive self-talk, and consciously choose to visualize happy outcomes for yourself. Treat yourself as you would a good friend.

Cultivate Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a way of being within the present moment rather than worrying about the future. It increases your awareness of what is around you and enriches all life experiences, including the most mundane.

Mindfulness can help you learn to control your focus, either turning it outward or maintaining inward focus in a more positive way. Information about mindfulness can be found at:

For more natural ways to manage and reduce anxiety and stop panic attacks, see the main Panic and Anxiety Treatments page.

You don’t run away. Rather you accept the fear and let it go or pass on through as you refocus. Never been so clear headed and free as I am now.