What is Xenophobia?

Xenophobia is the fear of the other. This may include people from different countries and cultures.

It is also the fear of the unknown and is rooted in anything that is foreign, typically people.

Xenophobia is often considered to be an unreasonable phobia because it involves the blind judgment of people based on who they are and where they came from.

This is a phobia that has a large impact on both society as a whole, as well as individuals.

The individuals who have this phobia do not trust foreigners because of where they came from. It can be harmful to a functioning society to have an individual who acts this way. Imagine a new student at a school coming from a different country. They should be able to integrate into their new school system easily, but a xenophobe would be uncomfortable with having someone who is a member of a different society sitting in the same classroom as them and their classmates.

This can cause people from different groups to feel as though they are not safe in their new environments. It makes these people question themselves. It affects people psychologically in the sense of always wondering why they are not being treated like other people.



Xenophobia vs. Racism

Many people think of xenophobia and racism as the same thing.

While racism and xenophobia are very similar, these are two different things that you should not get one mixed up with the other, although they do overlap.

Racism is hating and demeaning someone for their physical characteristics, such as skin color. Xenophobia is the fear of someone’s ways of life, their culture, or anything else that sets said person out of the xenophobe’s normal ‘group’.

This group can mean anything, whether it be a religious group, a group of people who live in a specific area, etc.

On the other hand, a racist would take into account the physical characteristics a person has that is different from their own. They would use these characteristics to determine whether they are of higher or lower status.


What can Trigger Xenophobia?

This is a phobia that can turn violent towards others, and can even make one act out from the simple fear of the other.

It is commonly triggered from past experiences with foreigners and can also be triggered from many other things, such as: the ‘alien’ factor commonly associated with foreigners, placing others below a certain standard held, the fear to be around individuals who come from different cultures, angered aimed at the fact that others are different than, the inability to trust anyone who is different, or violence towards people from different countries or cultures.


Symptoms of Xenophobia

Symptoms, when triggered, may include: sweating, nausea, fast heart rate, vomiting, shaking, shortness of breath, depression, sweating, panic attacks, feelings of terror, dry mouth, or even avoiding social situations.
Many people with Xenophobia are unable to live their life without the stress that comes along with living in a diverse world. They will find it hard to go through the day in public.
They may try to avoid people from different cultures at all costs.


Xenophobia and Violence

Some individuals with the phobia are able to avoid violent outbreaks, where in other cases it will get to the point of seriously injuring someone, and even murder.

Since 2008, there have been around 360 murders due to xenophobic people.

This includes cases of immigrant owned shops being burnt to the ground, immigrants being stolen from, explosions, and even people being burned alive. A large number of these violent attacks are targeted towards migrants, refugees, even people who migrated in which are believed to be stealing jobs.


Fear in South Africa

South Africa has the highest number of problems due to xenophobia. This is the world’s most racially unequal place in the world.

South Africa has labeled their people as belonging to one of two groups: ‘black and poor’ or ‘white and wealthy’.

The xenophobic Black-on-Black violence all over South Africa is a result of centuries of White-on-Black violence.

Because of this, many people located in South Africa are living in constant fear. Some individuals are going to South Africa looking for a fresh start, only to have people breaking into their homes, threatening to kill them, or stealing everything that they own. People are tortured and beg for their lives.

Xenophobia is rising, and is continuing to spread to multiple countries in South Africa. They have been experiencing these attacks since 1994 and it has only been getting worse.

A few cases of death due to Xenophobia include: 7 people being shot in Cape Town in 2000, two brothers being trapped inside their house and burnt to death after it was set on fire, in 2015 a shop owner shot and killed a 14 year old boy.

There have also been very many attacks caused by violent mobs, and buildings set to flames. There were also 342 shops being stolen from and 213 burnt down in 2008 alone.


Treatment for Xenophobia

There are a few ways to treat xenophobia.

Experiencing other cultures and ideas can help, as this will make things become less unknown.

Traveling can open someone’s mind and create a better appreciation and understanding of foreigners and the cultures they live in.

There are behavioral therapies to treat this,  therapies to help to handle triggered violence towards foreign individuals and overcoming your negative emotions.

Many even get on anxiety or depression medication after speaking with their doctors. There is still not a specific treatment to this phobia, meaning that there is no guaranteed cure.

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