Fear Of Hell

Many people fear judgment day, when they believe all their sins and failings will be measured against their good deeds and kindnesses. This fear of damnation is prevalent in the Christian belief system, where the worthy are rewarded with eternal life in Heaven. Those who fail to follow the word of God are thought to be punished by spending their afterlife in Hell.

Hell is always depicted as a tortuous place, populated by the Devil and his demons. Hellfire burns as sinners pay for the immoral things they have done…forever.

When fear of Hell becomes a phobia, it is known by the Latin name Hadephobia. This term is derived from classical mythology. In the underworld, by the mythical River Styx, all souls are ruled by the God Hades. He is the Lord Of The Dead.

While Hades and his realm differ somewhat from the Christian concept of the Devil and Hell, there are also many similarities.

Why Do People Fear Hell?

People fear Hell because they believe it exists. In order to develop Hadephobia, there must be faith in the Bible and its stories and teachings. Atheists turn away from the Bible and the Christian teachings. They feel that Heaven and Hell are figments of human imagination. Therefore, they are unlikely to develop an overarching fear of Judgment Day. Christians who embrace the word of God will be the most susceptible to Hadephobia.

Religious zeal may actually intensify this phobia. The more a person thinks of religion and their own relationship with God, the more they will focus on the world beyond death. If a believer is guilt-ridden or has committed a mortal sin, he or she may become obsessed with their own eventual damnation.

In Revelation 20:15, Hell is described as a Lake Of Fire:

”And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the Lake Of Fire”

There are many references to Hell to in the Bible: all of them can trigger Hadephobia in those who fear damnation. These grisly descriptions of fire and brimstone appear 31 times in translations of the Old Testament, and 23 times in translations of the New Testament.

Other Reasons For Hadephobia

While religious zeal, or guilt, are prime triggers for the fear of Hell, there are other reasons why it can occur. If someone is terminally ill, or elderly, their thoughts may naturally turn to the world beyond death. The need for spiritual comfort may turn to fear, as someone who is forced to contemplate their own mortality becomes frightened that they may not enter the Kingdom Of Heaven.

Mortal Sin

In Catholic and some Protestant belief systems, certain sins are mortal. They must be confessed and absolved, or else the sinner will go to Hell. If a person kills or commits another such mortal sin, they may be reluctant to confess their sin. In our society, many people are murdered. Many things are stolen. Adultery is commonplace. This proximity to mortal sin can be a powerful trigger for Hadephobia.

Hell In Other Belief Systems

Hadephobia is not exclusive to Christians. In the Qur’an, the primary religious text for those of Islamic faith, the fear of hell is also present.

In Judaism, there is no belief in eternal Hell and therefore no fear of eternal damnation. However, the idea of Sheol (“the grave”), a dark underworld similar to the domain of Hades, is part of the Judaic belief system. Sheol is not the same as Hell.

Buddhists do not believe in Hell. They turn away from the idea of everlasting damnation. They also believe that hell is a “painful sensation” created on the earthly plane, by human beings themselves. In other words, people make their own “heavens and hells”.

Symptoms Of Hadephobia

A person who fears Hell may experience panic symptoms, such as excessive fear, insomnia, nervous tension, and nausea. They may also be subject to bouts of depression. However, they may not be open about their fears or symptoms. Instead, they may internalize their terror. Excessive praying or religious zeal may be red flags for Hadephobia.

Overcoming The Fear Of Hell

Talking to a priest or other religious leader may ease fears in some people. Confessing any untold sins and asking for absolution may restore a sense of comfort and peace. However, this may not be enough to eradicate this phobia.

It may be wise to consult a therapist or psychiatrist who can provide perspective and sound medical advice about battling Hadephobia. Hypnotherapy and controversial treatments such as “tapping therapy” have been used to combat some phobias.

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