Xenophobia is the extreme and intense fear of strangers or foreigners. The term comes from the Greek words “xenos” and “phobos” meaning “stranger” and “fear.” Xenophobia can be directed at anyone who considers themselves different from others. It can also refer to exclusive, unwelcoming interest in people from one country or area over those from other countries or areas. After World War I, fear of foreigners became widespread when many blamed German immigrants for increasing crime rates and wartime shortages in food and other supplies.
Is Xenophobia Considered A Mental Health Condition
The world is a highly complex place, and there are many different definitions of what all things mean. When it comes to defining mental health conditions, these are conditions that impair a person’s ability to perform their daily tasks.
Strict rules and procedures often define these conditions. Different countries and cultures have unique policies and beliefs that form how certain conditions are treated. One thing is certain: Xenophobia is not considered a mental health condition as it cannot be treated by physicians, even those with proper training.
How Xenophobia Manifests
Xenophobic behaviors manifest in our daily lives, and in some instances, it happens without one even realizing they are xenophobic. For instance, in a basketball game, a player may be fouled and, as a result, ejected from the game. Although it wasn’t intentional, the referee may foul someone from another country. Then, an individual who happens to be part of that player’s soccer team, or even their teammate, storms into the field and begins to fight with the person who called them out, which constitutes xenophobic behavior. The referee, in this case, would be an excellent example of someone who may not have even realized that they are xenophobic, yet their actions show it.
Types Of Xenophobia
There are two primary types of xenophobia:
Cultural xenophobia is defined as a form of prejudice, discrimination, and stereotyping based on the belief that one’s country of origin is somehow superior to any other. Examples include:
• Holding out the eye-for-an-eye rule.
• Believing that your ethnicity is better than everyone else’s.
• Thinking that everyone from the same place as you is inherently more intelligent.
Immigrant xenophobia is a type of prejudice, discrimination, and stereotyping of immigrants, a person who lives in a country other than where they were born. Immigrants are often stereotyped as more prone to criminal behavior than those born in their host country.
Some instances of immigrant xenophobia are:
• A person’s belief that immigrants are taking over the job market from a specific country.
• A belief that immigrants from a specific country will steal English-speaking jobs and never pay taxes.
Xenophobia And Racism
Racism is the belief that one race is superior to another. Racism usually refers to views and beliefs based on race and social actions or practices. The most common form of racism is black racism, which believes that black people are inferior to whites or other racial groups.
While both are types of prejudice and discrimination and can describe a negative attitude towards those perceived as different or outsiders, there is a difference between xenophobia and racism. Xenophobia is not based on race but can be applied to anything that makes an individual different from the rest of society.
Xenophobia exists worldwide and affects many peoples in different countries in different ways.
• The Holocaust of World War II was when the Nazis sought to kill all Jews and other minorities. They sought to achieve this by excluding these groups from German society and “cleansing” them from their land. This was partly done by punishing non-citizens who had German identity cards, forced relocations, and mass transfers to ghettos, concentration camps, or death facilities, leading to many deaths.
• During World War II, Japanese in Canada and America were kept in concentration camps losing fundamental rights and freedoms as they were considered the enemy, even though they never committed crimes.
• In the United States, xenophobia is still a significant factor between many minority groups, including Hispanics and Asians and the White-Caucasian community.
• In Canada, there have been several incidents of hate speech involving immigrants from countries such as China, India, Pakistan, and Iran.
• Racially motivated xenophobic hate crimes, Hindu phobia, were committed against people from India in Australia in 2009.
• In 2020, the announcement of COVID-19, which originated from China, caused xenophobia against Asian communities.
Causes Of Xenophobia
The causes and origins of xenophobia have historically been a subject of debate throughout many cultures, countries, and institutions despite many attempts to remedy the situation.
Economic and Social Causes
As outlined earlier, competition for jobs is one of the main reasons xenophobia exists. However, others argue that this is not necessarily always the case. For example, it has been argued that xenophobia exists to replace domestic labor with cheaper foreign labor, often carried out by the upper classes of society and has been known to backfire.
Cultural factors are also cited as one of the primary causes of xenophobia. It is especially true when applied to nations with less developed cultures and histories of colonialism and imperialism. In the latter case, xenophobic attacks have been linked to an attempt at cultural assimilation, that is, an attempt to lessen the cultural differences between a colonizing country and its target populations. Xenophobia is often expressed differently depending on religion, language, and nation or state membership.
Given the levels of immigration taking place globally over the past few decades, research has been conducted on how xenophobia relates to genetics. However, the evidence remains inconclusive, so it is unlikely that any substantial conclusions will be reached soon.
How To Address Xenophobia
In the real world, xenophobia is addressed in various ways, including education and legislation.
One of the primary ways to address xenophobia is through education. The idea behind this is that educating people about other cultures and religions may help them understand why some people may be different from others and form their own opinions on normal and abnormal.
Address negative attitudes
By addressing the negative attitudes and beliefs held about other cultures and religions, xenophobia can be dealt with. For example, parents should not teach their children that a specific group is different. Instead, they should teach them to accept people regardless of race, gender, and sexuality.
Broaden our experience
Many people who display xenophobia have lived relatively sheltered lives and have not had the opportunity to learn about other cultures and religions. It is far too challenging to combat negative attitudes through education alone. As a result, it is best to incorporate all types of people into society and understand why people are different.
We should try and notice when we or others make stereotypic comments and call them out or try and work on it to better ourselves.
Many people who exhibit xenophobia do so because they think they are being judged unfairly by others. When we feel this way, it is best to seek help through therapy and explore the root causes of our fears to be better.
Xenophobia is a severe problem that affects many people worldwide. However, it is difficult to determine the cause of this problem and resolve it. The most effective way in which xenophobia can be addressed is through education. In addition to this, simply broadening our horizons and experiencing other cultures and religions can help us better understand why people are different from us.