Knowledge is a powerful trust passed along from one generation to the next in hopes that they can perpetuate learning and apply that knowledge in new and exiting ways that can further benefit mankind. Seeking after knowledge has always been considered a good thing. Not so for those who have a substantial fear of knowledge. This fear may be based on books, but it may also be knowledge typically passed along verbally by a trusted mentor. The fear of knowledge is known as Epistemophobia.
In Jewish history there was a king named Solomon who was the wisest man in the world. The story is told that at the end of his life all he could do was lament that knowledge simply allowed him to conclude that life itself was of little worth. Solomon insinuated that wisdom wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
What Causes Epistemophobia?
A doctor learns the causes of disease and the symptoms of illness. That same doctor can become so attached to the notion of helping patients in an empathetic way that in the end the physician feels as if all their knowledge has been in vain because patients continue to get sick, and some die.
A politician seeks to serve the people only to discover that they are only effective when they work to ensure other politicians receive the votes they need in return for a favorable vote on things important to the original politician. The actual knowledge differed from the ideology of the individual and somehow taints their perspective and ambition.
We’ve all encountered situations where knowing less about an issue was less problematic. This could be about the relationships of others, the right way to perform a technical trade or even how to bake Grandma’s best recipe. For the epistemophobe ignorance of certain topics is a pursuit.
An epistemophobe will keep things at a very basic level. They don’t want to know too much about anything. This doesn’t automatically mean they are not intelligent, but they are very protective about their own personal knowledge base. They will likely excuse themselves from conversations that provide large doses of information. This can result in social anxiety.
Other symptoms may also include…
- Air hunger
- Elevated heart rates
- Rushing in the ears
- An urge to flee
- Panic attacks
Too much knowledge can instill a sense of responsibility. For the epistemophobe there may be a feeling that they cannot accept such a weight of responsibility. They enjoy their limited knowledge and really want to be left alone.
How to Overcome Epistemophobia
The phobic personality in this case will need to confront why they fear knowing more. They may be able to discover that knowing some things can actually be fun while providing a shared experience with another knowledgeable human being.
There may be issues the phobic personality lives with that contributed to the fear. A therapist is ideally suited to help uncover those issues, work through them, and help the individual deal constructively with their fear.
The fear of knowledge is also referred to as:
- Knowledge fear