Xenophobia - xenophobia and xenophobia

Xenophobia - xenophobia and xenophobia / Diseases
Xenophobia, the hostility towards strangers, depends on external characteristics. It is falsely equated with xenophobia, but that's not true. Literally, xenophobia is the fear of someone who comes from another country. But xenophobia is directed against people who look "different" - not necessarily against those who have another passport.


  • Biologically anchored?
  • In the beginning there is education
  • Curiosity about the stranger
  • Xenophobia - A personality disorder
  • Sociophobia and loss anxiety
  • Hatred of people
  • A bonding disorder?
  • What to do against misanthropy
  • racism
  • Racism is not an anxiety disorder
  • Antisocial egoists
  • What is racism like??
  • contempt
  • Xenophobia as an anxiety disorder
  • Trauma and separation

Biologically anchored?

Naturalizing explanations assume that the delimitation, fear and hostility towards strangers is biologically anchored. Thus, it is a reflex to protect yourself and the in-group.

Naturalizing approaches follow the assumption that demarcation and xenophobia are biologically based. (Image: pholidito / fotolia.com)

In fact, in mythologies worldwide, the monsters are on the margins of the familiar - outside the village, the tribe or the clan. However, the naturalizing explanations are mostly justifications. For curiosity is also a human quality, and that includes curiosity about the stranger.

Rather, xenophobia can be fueled or changed like any enmity or fear. Infants "stare" and are just as curious. For a start, "alienation" means that people they do not know are in the least scary. At the same time they are interested in this.

In the beginning there is education

Collective xenophobia is by no means innate, but produced by society. The in-group defines itself as attributing negative qualities to other groups, and it infuses its children that the others have these qualities.

Since a toddler relies on the adult's knowledge, they see their stories as the truth - regardless of whether it's Santa Claus, God, or the "child-eating stranger." As well as the enmity could also stoke the curiosity on the strangers.

Whether children react curiously or disapprovingly to "different" looking people depends on how they are exemplified by adults. (Image: lassedesignen / fotolia.com)

Curiosity about the stranger

Every traveler away from the usual tourist routes, whether in Tanzania, Venezuela or Thailand, will see the same behavior in children over and over again. A little caution, but above all hardly curious curiosity.

Those who were surrounded by a host of dozens of children in a village in the Atlas Mountains or a settlement in Assam, who are enthusiastic about everything from the way the "white man" writes his diary to the mysterious contents of his cosmetic bag, can talk about the "Congenital xenophobia" just shake your head.

Xenophobia - A personality disorder

Pronounced xenophobia is considered a mental disorder. It is a specific anxiety disorder that is often associated with other anxiety disorders. Conversely, people who suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder can project this fear on strangers.

The disorder differs from mere resentment in having psychotic features. The affected people thus develop delusions.

Psychologically, it is less about hostility towards strangers, but about an actual phobia, that is, an exaggerated fear, which in reality finds only one object. Psychological xenophobia is thus comparable to a mouse phobia, a spider phobia or a sociophobia.

From a psychological point of view, xenophobia is comparable e.g. with a spider phobia. (Image: lassedesignen / fotolia.com)

Sociophobia and loss anxiety

Sociophobia is particularly evident in xenophobia. Someone who suffers from this is generally afraid of social relationships with people. He has the least fear of people he knows very well. The less he knows her, the bigger his fear becomes. Conversely, he is not particularly xenophobic, because his fear is not fixed on external characteristics.

The pathological fear of strangers may underlie a disturbance of perception. Then sufferers see the cause of problems no longer where it is, for example, the death of parents, unemployment or divorce, alcohol and drug abuse, problems in the profession, but in the construct of the stranger, who is responsible for everything bad. This is where therapy starts by bringing back to the patients their sense of reality.

A particular form of pathological xenophobia is also an extreme loss anxiety associated with a fear of any change. Those affected cling to a past that no longer exists, and any change in their living environment triggers fears.

These fears manifest themselves, for example, when people move into the neighboring house, who have a dark skin color, speak a different language and behave differently than those affected from their living environment know.

Hatred of people

Xenophobia is an anxiety disorder in the narrow psychological sense. For the social exclusion of groups of people this psychological term would be a trivialization. Behind group-focused misanthropy is not phobia as exaggerated fear, but hatred - and hatred against people. For example, those who suffer from a cat phobia do not hate cats.

On the contrary, some of those affected rationally know that cats are friendly animals and would like to approach them. Likewise, many people who are psychologically scared of strangers know that it is their own fear and not the characteristics of strangers.

Xenophobes, on the other hand, rarely have an anxiety disorder in the psychological sense. They want to value themselves and their own group and to exclude groups that define them as different, to restrict their rights or even to destroy them.

Xenophobes exclude others and weaken them to enhance themselves. (Image: Dieter Hawlan / fotolia.com)

All anxiety disorders are mainly passive. Xenophobia, on the other hand, is active.

A bonding disorder?

However, misanthropy can certainly be pathological: some people lack the basic trust that forms in the first three years of life through an intimate bond with mother and father.

If this bond is disturbed, then anxiety disorders can solidify, which amount to a fundamental mistrust of other people. Such people are very easily irritable in social relationships, can not respond constructively to conflicts, and often suffer from depression. They do not realize any purpose in their lives.

Some of them, in search of allegiance, join groups that define themselves through hatred of other (arbitrarily constructed) groups of people and find a perceived sense of hate crime towards others. In the other, they pursue what they did not experience. Often they are attacking just those people to whom they place particularly close ties with the family.

The question of whether the chicken or the egg was first, can hardly be answered. However, studies on criminal neo-Nazis in East Germany came to the conclusion that the majority of those examined had conspicuous personality disorders - in particular a dissocial character. In other words, the empathy inability was already there and fascism offered the appropriate ideology.

What to do against misanthropy

This misanthropy in the psychological sense marks the perverted protection of a person who was severely mentally injured in childhood. He did not get the affection he yearned for and the grief over it turns into hate.

Those affected suffer from a deficit, love to receive and love. The disturbed attachment to others is transformed into hatred and envy towards others. Those affected feel like a predator cornered and they believe they have to defend themselves.

The sooner a therapy starts, the greater the chances that those affected will come out of their inner prison of hatred, fear and loneliness. It is not enough that they just meet a friendly person, but they have to learn in a tough treatment to maintain social relationships.


Denoting racism as "fear of strangers" beautifully colors political racism. He who is afraid hides, he does not open his mouth, cold sweat breaks out.

Racism is just no pathology like an anxiety disorder. On the contrary, it is a deliberate political attitude. Racists claim privileges over the people they call "inferior".

They deliberately choose to light refugee homes or beat up migrants. They are planning their hate crime file and are fully responsible for it. It is gibberish to explain hate crimes of racists with legitimate or exaggerated fear. Fears are to be respected and be it in the sense of a therapy.

Racists deliberately choose to use, for example, violence against "inferior" people. (Image: Jonathan Stutz / fotolia.com)

"Fears" of racists to "understand" apologizes for racism. Also, racists are masters at fueling fears they do not have themselves: they invent crimes that would commit them to "others," and many people are scared of these crimes.

The explanations in many bourgeois media for racist violence are wrong. AfD politicians, the Pegida mob in Dresden, neo-Nazis who set fire to refugee homes or invent the atrocities of migrants, have no "fear of being alienated".

A bunch of "angry citizens" who were gossiping and eating sausage watching people sitting in the burning refugee home in Rostock-Lichtenhagen are as scared as middle-aged citizens enjoying the spectacle of a public execution.

Anyone who has excessive fear is always a victim too. Those who discriminate against, injure or kill other people out of hatred and calculation have no excessive fear, nor is he a victim. He is exclusively the culprit. With the talk of "fear of alienation," those affected only act as victims.

Racism is not an anxiety disorder

A racist is not afraid, but wants to claim special rights by origin, descent, skin color, language or religion and to deny them others. He denies the universal and inalienable human rights.

Racists do it consciously, because that is the only way to justify slavery, colonialism and genocide. In doing so they deliberately incite xenophobia. They put a negative stamp on the "black man" - whether it's his way of life, his religion or his appearance.

Racists build on prejudice, ignorance and the unwillingness to self-reflection of the in-group. Typically, this is a private group that enjoys certain privileges. However, racism is also rampant among minority groups who are underprivileged when racialists who feel they belong are the minority as a "chosen race".

Antisocial egoists

Even running in racist hate preachers can not be explained primarily out of fear. The reluctance to self-reflection is not due to a lack of intellectual ability, but to selfishness - racist supporters do not want to share with the "strangers" what they have or think they have.

Therefore, they can not be dissuaded from their hate images with education. For example, some established Germans with a migrant background from Turkey, Italy or Syria are rushing against asylum seekers from the Middle East in a manner reminiscent of NPD Stammtisch or AfD party conferences.

The same applies to some East Germans, who came to West Germany in 1990 as "economic refugees". To explain to them that they themselves are migrants would be meaningless. They know that too well. On the contrary, they are rushing against the "new strangers" because they do not even want to leave a few bread crumbs to others from the table they sit at.

Concepts such as "fear of alienation" or even "justified fear" mask the fact that it is egoism and antisocial thinking. Of course, this is hardly anyone openly admitted. "I want everything just for me" is worse off than saying "I'm worried about my country."

Racism exists when people are discriminated against and harassed on the basis of skin color, origin etc. (Image: grafikplusfoto / fotolia.com)

What is racism like??

Racism manifests itself in the fact that people are discriminated against, harassed and attacked on the basis of their origin, skin color, "culture" or other marks arbitrarily constructed by the racist.

Essential for racism is: The individual does not matter. The racists are not interested in whether the new neighbor from Syria fled the IS or murdered people for the IS. The racist is not interested in how the discriminated person defines himself.

On the contrary, the racist assigns individuals to a group whom the racist occupies with stereotypes constructed by himself. Even if the behavior of the defamed person contradicts this stereotype, the racist presses it back into stereotypes.

Racism manifests itself in discrimination and harassment. He begins to distance himself from the "other," continues to taunt or subjugate the culture he imputes.

This is followed by physical harassment. The victim is spit at, beaten or kicked because in the eyes of the racist he belongs to a certain group of people. Whether this really is so, does not matter. For example, after the attack on the WTC in Arizona, a Sikh was shot dead by a racist because the racist considered him a Muslim Arab.


Much more widespread than the physical violence is the contempt. For example, the racist refuses to sit on the train next to someone allegedly belonging to the discriminated group.

He makes sure of the privilege of the in-group by telling contemptuous jokes about other groups like Turks, Arabs or asylum-seekers. He does not want to sit in an office with a new colleague whom he personally does not know because he has a Turkish, Iranian or Arabic name.

Xenophobia as an anxiety disorder

The common topos of "fear of alienation" not only obscures the motivation of racists, but also distorts xenophobia as an anxiety disorder in the psychological sense.

An anxiety disorder is not a normal fear, but exposes those affected to constant negative stress that hinders their daily lives. Fear fantasies increase in the head of the disturbed and confirm themselves more and more.

It's not about a specific threat, but about fantasies "what if". Those affected narrow their own radius of life more and more. Some do not leave their apartment anymore.

Transferring to xenophobia means that. Alone the idea that "strangers" rob, rap or murder those affected is so real and threatening that patients hardly ever dare to leave the house.

The fear of acts of violence by "strangers" can be so pronounced that those affected no longer dare to leave the house. (Image: Photographee.eu/fotolia.com)

The causes are many. Sexual abuse, a parent's psychological violence, physical violence, loss, separation or death of parents, lack of recognition in puberty and childhood prevent a child from learning to handle fears and challenges as a threat.

Trauma and separation

Who was traumatized in his childhood, which split off this experience and survived so psychologically. But the experience can recur in the form of an anxiety disorder. For example, if an abused child separates the raping father into a good and a bad father in order to be able to bind himself to the good, this can be a trigger for later projections on "strangers".

The adult sees now in the construct of the "asylum seeker who rapes German women", the "evil father", without being aware of it. For a trauma is just that the affected are not aware of their separation.

Unlike the racist agitator who knows he is rushing and consciously doing so, the traumatized's fear is real. They themselves do not know why their heart is racing, why they can not concentrate, or why they do not fall asleep at night.

If those affected then find a "explanation" for their fear in the stranger, that is not only bad for the victim of the projection, but also for the traumatized themselves. They do not heal themselves, but merely solidify their disturbance. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)
Specialist supervision: Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch (doctor)