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Xenophobia

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Symptoms and Diagnosis

Xenophobia is a feeling of extreme fear and apprehension, experienced on meeting a stranger or a foreigner. It is characterized by a morbid fear or intense dislike of strangers, foreigners or any subject perceived as alien. In most cases, it is caused by an intense, but negative, past experience. Sometimes though, there may be no apparent causality that can be established for the fear.

An individual suffering from xenophobia perceives the unknown or unfamiliar external element as a potential threat. This feeling is impulsive, exaggerated, and mostly baseless. People suffering from this genuinely believe the ‘different’ other can, in some way, hurt or harm them. This might trigger a violent response in the xenophobic person, resulting in a physical or verbal attack on the stranger. Sometimes though, the xenophobic individual prefers to withdraw to safer places from such volatile situations. Meeting and interacting with new people will no doubt become a nauseating experience.

Xenophobic anxiety is more common in individuals with greater tendency towards fear and anxiety and those who suffer from adrenal insufficiency.

Medically xenophobia can be part of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if it happens due to terrorist attack or after genocide of a race or similar emotional trauma and can be categorized as an adjustment disorder.

Xenophobia may elicit symptoms similar to other phobias, including

Anxiety

Increased breathing (tachypnoea)

Quickened heart rate (tachycardia)

Shortness of breath

Panic attacks

Nausea

Trembling

Profuse sweating.

Social anxiety disorder or social phobia may also result; such as withdrawing even from the least intimidating of social situations. 

Symptoms of xenophobia can be observed when the individual goes to extreme lengths to avoid interacting with strangers, an irrational or unexplained fear affects their day to day life and activities, or (in adults) when the person him/herself realizes that their fear is not in keeping with reality, but at the same time, is helpless to control it. At this stage, it is important to seek professional intervention and diagnosis must conform to prescribed list of symptoms, along with clinical skills and sound judgment on the part of the physician. The tricky part of the diagnosis is that symptoms of phobias are very similar to those of other mental, and even physical, illnesses. 

In several cases though, it is possible that the condition goes undiagnosed as the individual may learn to avoid situations which cause anxiety or give excuses to distract attention from his/her unusual behavior.

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For xenophobia to be diagnosed accurately, two elements have to be present.

1. The first is a population group present within a society that is not considered part of that society due to their different back ground (different nationality of origin, race, religion etc). Often they are recent immigrants, but xenophobia may be directed against a group which has been present for centuries. This form of xenophobia can elicit or facilitate hostile and violent reactions, such as mass expulsion of immigrants, pogroms (extensive violence against minorities), or in the worst case, genocide.



2. The second form of xenophobia is primarily cultural, and the objects of the phobia are cultural elements which are considered alien. All cultures are subject to xenophobia, but cultural xenophobia is often narrowly directed, for instance at foreign cultures inside or outside the country. It leads to aggression against any foreign element within the country (such as ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia) or outside the nation (such as US lead recent unpopular war in Iraq). Such aggression can result in political campaigns (by the leaders) to justify wars against that culture or nation (recent Iraq war mentioned above is a perfect example of such xenophobia).

Xenophobia can be based on various aspects. It means fear and hatred of another race, nationality (excessive patriotic feelings or national self esteem, Jingoism), religion, gender (same or opposite gender), status, culture, ethnicity, political belief and so on.
Generally it applies to people who look different or believe differently than oneself. Therefore, we shall confine ourselves to the four most important elements that contribute to xenophobia. These four elements (Nationalism, Racism, Ethnocentrism and Religionism) are a form of four evil institutions or disciplines that have been plaguing humanity for thousands of years.

Syed shahid MD

Diplomat:

American Boards of Psychiatry and neurology
American Boards of family practice
London institute of Tropical medicine and Hygiene

For comments and questions please write to:

syedshahidmd@yahoo.com.au



S.Shahidmd Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Xenophobia

Xenophobia is an intense dislike and/or fear of people from other country, race, ethnicity and religion. It is defined as "a persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of strangers, foreigners, or of people significantly different from oneself".



In a relative term xenophobia has been described as a form of severe” mental illness" for it creates psychosocial problems for its sufferers and the people around. At a national and international level it may be akin to a "mass hysteria". Once in motion the consequences of xenophobia can be far more serious at global level than at individual level.


Syed shahid MD

Diplomat:

American Boards of Psychiatry and neurology
American Boards of family practice
London institute of Tropical medicine and Hygiene

For comments and questions please write to:

syedshahidmd@yahoo.com.au








S.Shahidmd Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Sociological Explanation of xenophobia

Xenophobia if considered in the range of dislike against the genetically dissimilar out-group and nepotistic favoritism towards the genetically similar in-group) are analyzed by many sociological researchers. Some see it as an innate biological response on the part of the evolved human organism in inter-group competition. Favoritism towards ones own ethnicity is an evolutionarily based, "objective" value.

However, from a psychological and political science perspective it can be dangerous. Objectivity has to be defined in the light of fairness to all, without infringing upon "others" rights. Therefore, a "universal nationalism", (in which all planetary ethnic-based communities or nations have the right to preserve their own heritage and distinctiveness, without disenfranchising and out-casting the genetically dissimilar and foreign elements) is what humanity needs to project as a distinguished and civilized human behavior.

The four institutional philosophies mentioned above (nationalism, racism, ethnocentrism religionism) are the hallmark of xenophobia. These institutions perpetuate deliberately (and sometimes subconsciously) a flurry of xenophobic ideologies.

It is important, therefore, to flag these flamboyant (but misguided) institutions and describe in depth their origin and background. The glorification of these institutions is unjust since it only creates further enhancement of xenophobia.


Syed shahid MD

Diplomat:

American Boards of Psychiatry and neurology
American Boards of family practice
London institute of Tropical medicine and Hygiene

For comments and questions please write to:

syedshahidmd@yahoo.com.au



S.Shahidmd Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Xenophobic emotions have always played a major part in the outlook of groups and communities. These emotions have created wars and blood shed at mass scale through out the history of human civilization. Recently, however, these emotions have become so intense that WW I and WW II have been direct result of these negative emotion (hatred). Never before loss of life had been as enormous as we saw during WW I and WW II. Well over 100 million people lost their life in these Two World Wars. If there ever going to be a Third World War (which is quite imminent if xenophobia continues at its present alarming scale), it is predicted that the loss of life will be well over 3 billions or even more. Some anthropologists even predict extinction of human species from this planet.

Persistence of xenophobia (in spite of what is mentioned above) defies the ideological universalism of most of the dominants of ideas, such as humanitarianism, scientific humanism and liberalism which we have idealized by the humanity in the past few centuries.

Nationalism, racism, ethnocentrism and religionism are the four evils of our civilization. At individual level they are not so dangerous. However, when they are adopted at the national and international level, they drive the more doctrinaire political phenomenon of Xenophobia. It is the political aspect of these institutions that will eventually consumes humanity within next 20-30 years.

All the four of these evil institutions (racism, nationalism, ethnocentrism and religionism) create divisions in human ideologies. These institutes pitch liberalism and scientific humanism against conservatism. Liberal ideas are dynamic and accommodate any reasoning that is subject to scientific scrutiny.

Syed shahid MD

Diplomat:

American Boards of Psychiatry and neurology
American Boards of family practice
London institute of Tropical medicine and Hygiene

For comments and questions please write to:

syedshahidmd@yahoo.com.au



S.Shahidmd Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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