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EDIT: Rephrasing my question but I am keeping the original intact.

It seems that a lot of discussion is around compulsive use of social media to make sure they are staying up to date. But can this come from other sources and manifest differently like compulsive risk aversion, fear of regret of unknown, missing out on the unknown in the future? How worse can this condition develop and affect a person's life?

EDIT: Seems close FOMO but I am not sure.


The Fear

I do not know what I will regret in the future. There are many unknowns and new things to be discovered in the future, moreover, there are already things known to others that I don't know, and I do not want to die without doing/having/experiencing the things that I will want in the future.


One method of mitigating this risk of regret in the future is, to summarise, increase time and money budget for the future at the expense of current needs. For example, one would be obsessed with balanced diet, exercise, supplements, buy excessive insurance. These look alright until, he also avoid settling down to have a reliable job and income because he want to have the freedom of time in case he needs it in the future; he doesn't want to return money he borrow from others by rationalising that the lender can survive without him repaying and he might need the money in the future.

Risk Management

I checked Risk Management theories which generally said that there is no way to manage Unknown Unknowns and they do not budget for it. Others say exactly because it cannot be managed we should set money budget based on the nature of the project. But I feel it is not appropriate because the nature of the project is a known parameter, in which case, the budget will still be set against a known unknown. There is no clear stance as to the level of paranoia that is acceptable.


I tried to search for a term for fear of regret, but there seems to be no reference to this as a clinical condition. Although there are others which appear to be similar such as fear to decide, fear to commit (but many are on relationships), but they don't really describe the full symptoms.

Maslow Hierarchy

I see some relation of this fear of regret as a type of insecurity in the lowest rung of the hierarchy. Having this constant fear means that one cannot actually satisfy the need at this level, therefore he cannot progress up the hierarchy. When one is basically stuck at the bottom, it may explain why one doesn't care returning money to people (maintaining relationship), not prioritise marriage and associated responsibility, not including family in his life plans (he uses the life insurance payout to support his argument).

Question I just want to understand if there is literature on this perception or if this is a psychological problem, because it seems to have negative effect on the person and increasingly so as time passes. Are there any case study, research, search terms that I can use study this further in the right direction?

share|improve this question
I'm no clinician, but I am versed in existential psychology, which addresses concerns like these as they arise in normal people. Your description doesn't sound pathological or irrational, but it also doesn't seem very complete or detailed. Given the personal nature of your question, this is also off-topic IMO (see meta.cogsci.stackexchange.com/q/502/4086). I recommend reframing it in a way that doesn't seek to diagnose your friend as mentally ill (which I would resent if I were him), but to understand the general issue instead. For one thing, some confusion is evident regarding Maslow. –  Nick Stauner Jul 13 '14 at 4:27
What is the diagnosis to determine if it is rational or not? I am also surprised that you would resent if you were him because I thought being in this field you should be open enough to accept these things already. –  Jake Jul 13 '14 at 4:42
That would be a decent general question to ask. "Accept these things" assumes there is anything correct to accept. –  Nick Stauner Jul 13 '14 at 4:46
Sorry, I have bad English. Don't really understand your meaning fully. But when I say "accept" I refer to the openness to be diagnosed in order to make sure one is healthy. I think mental illness is like any other illness. I understand and respect that some people cannot accept for various reasons but I am just expressing surprise because you are working in this field as you sad. No offence. :) –  Jake Jul 13 '14 at 4:50
Thanks, I tried to best to reframe my question. I have also made some progress FOMO –  Jake Jul 13 '14 at 5:53

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