What is xenophobia?
It is rather difficult to answer this question since this phenomenon has many aspects. But, to make a long story shorter, xenophobia is the fear of strangers or foreigners (representatives of alien or unfamiliar ethnic groups), expressed as an unwillingness to communicate with them. According to studies of psychologists, xenophobia can be manifested by different, often defined by a person’s social position or intellectual development, reasons. Usually, racism is the first association with the word “xenophobia”. And, no wonder, because racism and xenophobia are similar. But, the concept of xenophobia is much wider, it is divided into different types while the meaning of the word racism is more narrow.
Types of xenophobia
Social xenophobia is manifested in hatred towards foreigners who are able to get jobs of natives, or who have low-paid jobs, thus making foreigners worse than natives, or living better – richer than aborigines.
Racial xenophobia (or it may be called racism) is hatred on racial grounds when representatives of one race consider themselves better than others. Fascism in all its manifestations is the best example of such a phobia. This, of course, is pure racism. This kind of xenophobia is prevalent among young people now. People who hate foreigners sometimes cross the line and it leads to extremism. Fights and murders – today’s world news is full of such reports.
Religious intolerance is widespread today when supporters of one church are trying to unite because of potential hostility of other religions. Xenophobia against Muslims, who are associated with the militants, attacks, explosions and other aspects of extremism, gains popularity. This definition can not be considered true since terrorism has no religion.
Territorial xenophobia: a division of teenage gangs on the territorial “district” principle is the most primitive example illustrating such type of xenophobia. Here are examples of such divisions between “suburbs – the center of the city”, “city – the suburbs”, “city – countryside”, “capital – province.” The level of youth extremism is steadily increasing because of such xenophobia.
Regardless of the causes, the development of xenophobia in today’s world occurs in childhood. Moreover, it is important to note that it often happens in people who were told that “they are foreigners, that is why we are much better than them”, not in those who were told that “foreigners are bad”. Such statements cause a person to believe in some common deficiencies in all foreigners that make them not only bad but such words can make you worse if you will communicate with them for any reason or accept them as equals. This definition of a foreign nation, of course, is not true.
Today, despite the promoted values of equality and loud words about unity in any state, xenophobia is always a perfect and effective tool to control citizens of a country.
Thus, developing hatred in residents towards foreigners (immigrants, guest workers, refugees, etc.), by imposing the fear of extremism, the government easily distracts citizens from the social and economic problems, forcing them to spend time and energy on hatred towards foreigners. But it is impossible without the participation of both sides in the conflict. It is believed that in many countries where we are today witnessing the outbreak of such a phenomenon as racism – interracial or intersocial conflicts – France, the USA, Germany, England, Mongolia and the countries of Asia, Russia – both sides (the citizens of the country and immigrants) are under the influence of the state security services.
Another type of xenophobia is fear of strangers. In this case, we deal with the fear on the level of panic acts, hypertensive attacks, and tachycardia, a person who suffers from xenophobia fears everyone who is not included in the circle of close friends. Psychological trauma may result in xenophobia or excessive attempts of parents to impose fear of strangers on their children and such words do not lead to anything good. However, such a fear of strangers may be developed during adulthood. For example, when the future xenophobe was attacked, humiliated or insulted by a stranger. It can not be forgotten.
In the case of an acute form, a person who suffers from xenophobia may begin to avoid not only communicate with those whom he sees for the first time but avoid any contacts with sellers, taxi drivers, passers-by, and physicians. The person may live in places where people are a rare phenomenon, maintain a marginal life, lock in the apartment, cut off all possible contact with the outside world, go out only at night, pretending to be deaf. In this case, xenophobia always requires professional treatment, without which the condition will always get worse. Today there are many people suffering from xenophobia but few ask for help.
How to understand that you have xenophobia
The initial form of xenophobia, which is expressed in fear of other people, is diagnosed quite simply. The following features help to understand:
- you experience anxiety and fear of going out, you are afraid of extremism;
- you feel uncomfortable when you look at strangers (in the subway, pedestrians), and avoid looking at them;
- you are not able to ask a stranger for help, even in the case of a difficult situation or misfortune;
- going home, you experience relief and think that an alien and hostile world is behind;
- when you call strangers or a stranger sends you a message via a social network, you experience barely perceptible, but quite obvious to notice, short-lasting bouts of panic. It is difficult for you to find the words.
In the vast majority of cases, xenophobia at its different stages is perfectly treatable. However, the treatment of this fear is only possible if the person himself wants to get rid of his problems knowing how much it interferes with his normal existence and communicate with other people. He must learn to live in peace with others and with himself, to find words in order to calm himself down. Regular visits to a psychologist or psychiatrist may be very effective plus taking various medications that help the patient not only improve his condition (as much as possible to reduce the level of fear) but also get the opportunity to restructure his mind turning the destructive horror of strangers into elementary prudence and caution.