Thoughts on the ‘claustrophobia of awareness’ – the overpowering effect of awareness

Here’s a thought I had (though I can’t recall if I spoke of similar things before):

It seems to me that awareness can create a sense of claustrophobia oftentimes, as a result of becoming too aware.  In many ways, awareness is like a room, it encloses and surrounds us.  Awareness, after all, is knowing what surrounds us.  Sometimes, it may ‘close in on us’ or suffocate us.  Though I use the term claustrophobia, it may not appear like a claustrophobia at all but may resemble other qualities such as a sense of being burdened or that things are ‘too much’.  In a sense, it shows how awareness becomes overpowering.

Several forms of awareness can become overpowering:

  • Awareness of self.
  • Awareness of ones surroundings.
  • Awareness of ones situation.

It can be one or several of these things that can become overpowering.  They can become so overpowering that they can actually cause problems for us and create great dilemma in our life.


It seems, to me, that claustrophobia of awareness causes a lot of unhappiness in people and is a source for much despair.  It can cause things like:

  • It makes people feel ‘trapped’.
  • They may complain that they can’t “get anywhere” or are “stuck”.
  • They may have a desire to leave and wish to “go on vacation” and so on.
  • A feeling that everything will “stay the same” or “never change”.
  • A sense of boredom in life.
  • A feeling of exhaustion.
  • A sense of tediousness in life.

Often, these are spoken of in the sense of ones general status in life, or work, or situation in life.  If prolonged it can lead to things like depression, hopelessness, apathy, or extreme despair which are often blamed on other things.  As a result of this, I often feel that being overly aware is a ‘hidden ailment’, often unseen and unrecognized

This shows that we often take awareness for granted, thinking its such a simple thing.  It also shows that we are often victims of our own mind without even knowing it.  In other words, our awareness becomes a burden to us, and may actually detract from life, and hinder our quality of life.


I’ve often felt that one of the qualities of aging is that awareness over a long period of time exhausts us.  I tend to feel that much of ‘getting old’ is a result of the cumulative effects of awareness over the long period of our lives.  The cumulative effects of awareness, as we get older, has an effect on us, often of wearing us down or, in some respects, making us seemed ‘squashed’ by life.  A life of ‘forced awareness’, such as one of great stress or worry or responsibility, will accentuate this tendency.  In fact, I tend to think that being too aware makes people age more quickly.  This, inevitably, can make people die at an early age or so it seems to me.

This seems to suggest how awareness takes energy.  Because of our longstanding awareness, in our life as we age, we become ‘drained’ of energy, causing many effects of aging.  This is unavoidable, at least to some extent, and is part of a normal process.


To be aware requires a self.  In other words, a self is required to be aware.  As a result of this, there is a strong association between self and awareness.  Because of this, the state of ones self can have great impact on the effects of awareness and the claustrophobia it causes.

  • “Dominant self”.  It seems that a stronger sense of self is more likely to create claustrophobia reactions.  This may  be one reason why many Americans suffer stress so much as their individualistic ideals forces them to have too strong of a self.  This also happens with people who have great responsibility.  When the sense of self is strong self tends to get into well-established mentalities from habit and experience that ends up slowly turning the self into a ‘dominant self’.  In other words, a quality of the strong self is a tendency to turn more and more into a ‘dominant self’ increasing the likelihood of claustrophobic reactions and over awareness problems.
  • “Varied self”.  A self that has many aspects seems to be able to handle awareness better.  In fact, a common technique to deal with the claustrophia is varying the self (see below).  A varied self allows the self to ‘alternate’, so to speak, so that one self is not overburdened with awareness, but different aspects of ones self.


There are things that can help remedy the claustrophobia:

  • The need for new things – New things take us away from our self and situation.  This could also include going on ‘get aways’ and vacations.  The experience of new things can be invigorating for many of us.
  • Being concerned and focusing on other people or things.   This is one of the great strengths of marriage and the family – it makes us forget our self by being concerned by others.  This can also be applied to jobs, hobbies, and activities.
  • Trying to continually discover different things about your self – Continually discovering different and new things about your self creates for a continued ‘varied self’.
  • The need for forgetting our self – Do something that makes us forget who we are, our situation, and where we are.
  • Letting another aspect of oneself to come out – Doing things that bring another aspect of oneself out is good.  Some examples include creating things, using ones imagination   fantasizing
  • Relaxed awareness – Doing things that are relaxing and calming.
  • Not being aware – This refers to a tendency many of us do of occasionally not thinking or realilizing what we’re doing.  We do this often throughout the day and, of course, don’t realize it.

Not matter what we do we are having to be aware in some way, its unavoidable in life as we are creatures of awareness.  Because of this, all we are doing is varying awareness in some way or another or changing its form.  In many ways, all the above are variations of these conditions that cause varying awareness:

  • Letting another aspect of ones self be aware.
  • Relaxing awareness of our current self.

We see here that, in both cases, the dealings of the self is critical for dealing with over awareness.


It seems that one of the most difficult things to do is getting rid of the ‘single self’.  Once its established its hard to get rid of.  In many ways, the ‘single self’ is like a pit one gets into and is hard to get out of.  Its particularly hard for guys, particulalry as they get older.  Usually, by that time they are deeply set in their ways.  Once the ‘single self’ is greatly established its hard for any of the remedies above to help.

This entry was posted in Existence, Awareness, Beingness, Consciousness, Conceptionism, and such, Life in general, Philosophy, Psychology and psychoanalysis and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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