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I am one of your greatest enemies, I tear you apart and leave you like a shell.
Now I end you, one of my specialties; torture and debase you, similar to hell.

So tremble in fear against my might, I am the stuff of nightmares.
I am an endless decay, a blight, here to expose your affairs.

Desperate, you'll try to kill me, only for you to succumb to me.
Evil incarnate, you're forced to see, I'll ignore all your pleas.

What am I?

Hint: (It seems the original is a little too broad)

In your childhood, you feared me, as an adult, you recognized me in others.
If you see me, you shall flee; I'll tear and break down this world with my brothers.

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  • $\begingroup$ In your hint, is the misspelling deliberate? $\endgroup$ – Selkie Sep 5 '18 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Selkie, what's misspelled? $\endgroup$ – Joe-You-Know Sep 5 '18 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, it's been edited. Flea -> Flee. Didn't want to put it in the comments just incase it was intentional $\endgroup$ – Selkie Sep 6 '18 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Selkie, No, that was my fault $\endgroup$ – Joe-You-Know Sep 6 '18 at 15:44
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My other answer was close, apparently, but too abstract, so perhaps instead you are a

Demon?

Some lines...

...refer to properties of 'real', fire-and-brimstone demons, such as their specialities being torture in hell, and them being "Evil incarnate."

Others...

Are more oblique references to "inner demons" such as depression and PTSD that break you down.

Your hint makes it clear that...

The answer is feared by children (especially those who attend a Catholic church, I would imagine), but that adults recognise demons and sin in other people.

Also, I would certainly flee if a brotherhood of demons came to tear down the world like something out of Revelations.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is what I was looking for! I added the hint to get that distinction. Good job +1 $\endgroup$ – Joe-You-Know Sep 5 '18 at 17:26
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Could it be

Depression?

Clues:

Most lines seem more poetic than directly descriptive, but they all seem to be describing the same ideas:

"I tear you apart and leave you like a shell." - People with depression report being unable to feel happy or sad, like an emotionless shell.

"Desperate, you'll try to kill me, only for you to succumb to me." - Suicide is often a consequence of depression. Obviously, since the cause of depression is one's own brain, trying to kill the source results in one's own destruction at its metaphorical hands.

Also the acrostic INSIDE refers to the illness being entirely mental or internal.

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  • $\begingroup$ This one is closest to what I'm looking for, so if no one submits the actual answer, I'll accept this one. I would take the latter half of the second line a little more literally. Second to last line as well. $\endgroup$ – Joe-You-Know Sep 5 '18 at 15:04
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Are you

You conscious, or your inner mind?

I am one of your greatest enemies, I tear you apart and leave you like a shell.

You are your own worst enemy.

Now I end you, one of my specialties; torture and debase you, similar to hell.

You only know what makes yourself tic.

So tremble in fear against my might, I am the stuff of nightmares.

Your mind give you the nightmares.

I am an endless decay, a blight, here to expose your affairs.

Your mind knows what is troubling you.

Desperate, you'll try to kill me, only for you to succumb to me.

???

Evil incarnate, you're forced to see, I'll ignore all your pleas.

You can never-not think.

Acrostic

INSIDE, you mind.

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  • $\begingroup$ Not a bad answer, but evidenced by the second to last line, not quite what I'm looking for. You can take Evil Incarnate literally here. $\endgroup$ – Joe-You-Know Sep 5 '18 at 15:05
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Bit of a stretch perhaps but are you

Sleep?

I tear you apart and leave you like a shell.

Sleep separates you from your senses. While you're asleep you're similar to a dead body or just the shell of a man.

Now I end you, one of my specialties; torture and debase you, similar to hell.

Sleep can also lead to nightmares which can be considered tortuous by some.

So tremble in fear against my might, I am the stuff of nightmares.

Again, nightmares is heavily associated with being asleep.

I am an endless decay, a blight, here to expose your affairs.

Bit stumped on this one. Only thing I can think of is that sometimes people confess their secrets while talking in their sleep.

Desperate, you'll try to kill me, only for you to succumb to me.

Everyone needs to sleep and no matter how long you try to fight off the need to sleep, you will eventually succumb.

Evil incarnate, you're forced to see, I'll ignore all your pleas.

Again not too sure on this one. Perhaps just a continuation of the above idea; no matter how much you fight, sleep will come for you.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't really think of this as evil... But not a bad guess. $\endgroup$ – Joe-You-Know Sep 5 '18 at 15:06
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It might be

Anger
You were scared of it as a child(parents being angry).
You now see it in others as an adult
And its consequences leave you devastated

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  • $\begingroup$ I could see this, but the hint kind of throws this away. I wouldn't use the answer in the riddle; at least, not directly like that. $\endgroup$ – Joe-You-Know Sep 5 '18 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ Then maybe a bad dream is the answer. $\endgroup$ – Quark-epoch Sep 5 '18 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ That's not quite it either. It's hard to see the hint working with a bad dream. Not to mention, a nightmare is a bad dream, so again, I wouldn't put the answer inside the riddle. $\endgroup$ – Joe-You-Know Sep 5 '18 at 15:58
  • $\begingroup$ Hey, I changed the answer, just have a look at it. $\endgroup$ – Quark-epoch Sep 5 '18 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ Not a bad answer, but also not what I'm looking for. $\endgroup$ – Joe-You-Know Sep 5 '18 at 17:25
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I'm assuming

Anxiety, because it unravels you (Tear you apart and leave you like a shell), causes suffering and potentially a breakdown (now I end you, torture and debase you), it directly causes you nightmares, exposes your affairs, and attempting to defeat it can exasperate the anxious mind.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ooh, this is another really good one. EightAndAHalfTails already got the correct answer, but I like this one a lot too. +1 $\endgroup$ – Joe-You-Know Sep 5 '18 at 17:50
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Could it be:

Bacteria?

I am one of your greatest enemies, I tear you apart and leave you like a shell.

Harmful bacterial diseases make you sick, and kill living tissue.

Now I end you, one of my specialities; torture and debase you, similar to hell.

People can die of nasty diseases ("end you"), and even if they don't, it can feel like hell.

So tremble in fear against my might, I am the stuff of nightmares.

As per above

I am an endless decay, a blight, here to expose your affairs.

Biological decay is caused by bacteria. Ultimately, flesh rots and the inside of a body is exposed.

Desperate, you'll try to kill me, only for you to succumb to me.

We take antibiotics to help the body fight/kill the bacteria.

Evil incarnate, you're forced to see, I'll ignore all your pleas.

But some infections ignore treatment.

Hint: In your childhood, you feared me, as an adult, you recognized me in others.

Children fear getting sick. Adults recognise others when they are sick.

If you see me, you shall flea; I'll tear and break down this world with my brothers.

(I presume "flea" should be "flee" - otherwise this is an entirely different ballgame.) People do their best to avoid harmful bacteria when they're aware of its presence. Ultimately, all living things get consumed ("tear down this world") by bacteria (who exist in their countless trillions ["brothers"]).

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I see the answer is Demon but my first thought was depression, then I thought drug or alcohol addiction.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Puzzling.SE! Please be advised that these answers have already been given; it is appropriate to only post a new answer when it differs from those previously given. Also, when posting an answer, please use spoiler tags >! to hide your answer so that others can solve the puzzle without seeing others' potential solutions. Thanks very much! $\endgroup$ – El-Guest Sep 5 '18 at 20:09

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