The illogical sensations of fear accompanied with the introduction of a person, group of people or situations that are observed as strange or alien is known as Xenophobia.
This term was conceived from the Greek word “Xenos”- meaning stranger or foreign and “Phobos”- meaning extreme fear.
It is the fear of anything beyond the comfort zone of an individual and may be observed in various semblance. For example, a person may not be afraid of a swimming pool but may experience great fear at the sight of a dark lake . This in fact, is initiated by the fear that s/he is not able to estimate the exact depth of that lake.
These thoughts are, to a large extent, able to deluge the thoughts of the individual and impede normal life activities.
Although the fear of strangers or foreigners can be brought about by a prior fearsome occurrence, the irrational and intense fear of foreigners may aggregate to a form of “racism” and/or rejection of strangers.
And today, it is not unusual, due to mass globalisation and immigration, to come across racial and/or xenophobial violence.
CAUSES OF XENOPHOBIA:
Fear of the strangers may be far-flung and partially unexplored because a number of different perspective can initiate the the phobia.
Day in and day out, people are incessantly perturbed by economic and social factors, health issues, electoral results, retirement and pension plans and so on. Coupled with xenophobia is also agoraphobia ( fear of the outdoors), fear of loss and/or death ( thanatophobia), etc.
Priorly mentioned, fear of the unknown might arise from other phobias, an unfortunate or negative experience with a stranger, death of a dear one, divorce, past experience, change of lifestyle, etc. In economic recessions, large society may source the easy way out, which most often, is to blame the foreign community for their poor economic situation. This can lead to collective Xenophobia.
Evolutionarily, man does not like that which he is unaware of or accept changes easily, due to insecurity and the fear of the unknown. Most cases of Xenophobia can be linked to man’s inability to cope with changes that are not stable or assure security.
In parenting a child, some parents and/or wards teach the child to resist unusual circumstances. This also increases the tendency towards the fear of the unknown.
SYMPTOMS OF XENOPHOBIA:
Change comes with time. Everyone tends to worry rationally about readjusting or familiarising with a new lifestyle, jobs, schools or environments. Most cases of phobia for strangers, objects, lifestyles and situations are normalcy and are to be accepted as a fact of life.
Unlike to a xenophobic individual, these fears and worries can be incessantly persistent leading to restraints on his/her personal or professional abilities.
The fear of strangers can be characterised by many physical and emotional symptoms which are rather specific to symptoms of other social phobias:
- Dry mouth and shallow breathing.
- Panic and anxiety attacks.
- Rapid heart palpitations.
- Full blown panic at the thought of the unknown or strange.
- Feeling anxious, trying to escape or sidetrack situations that requires a change or facing strangers or foreigners.
- Crying, shaking, trembling, throwing up, fainting etc are some more symptoms assiociated with individuals who suffer from Xenophobia.
TREATMENT FOR XENOPHOBIA:
Xenophobic individuals are often unable to live stress-free and happy lives as a result of the persistent anxiety and worries which hampers them from forming healthy relationships and the pleasures of daily activities unlike non-phobics.
Drug therapy is a useful measure in the treatment of Xenophobia, although, most of the anti-depressants are addictive and liable to cause severe withdrawal, they are potent in reducing panic attacks and overcoming depressive thoughts to an extent.
Self help and appreciation techniques, as well as NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) are methods that can help revive one’s confidence and deal with Xenophobia.
Long lasting methods such as change of perspective, thoughts and hyper imagination, as well as meditation can help combact Xenophobia.
Government and religious influence can be structured to change the environment and hence, collective bias sentiments on immigrants.
Expertly advice on Xenophobia relays that focusing on one’s goals rather than being sidetracked by negative beliefs or sentiments about strange and unknown objects, people or situations will help restore inner mental and physical peace.