Xenophobia – causes, treatments and more


What is xenophobia?

Xenophobia is fear of strangers. Xenophobia is a form of prejudice and racism. It is not necessary that people should dwell in other places or cultures for being xenophobic. It can also be because of appearance, accent and behaviour.

Xenophobia is a root perception that a foreign member of the community can be a threat to the group.

There are certain characteristics that xenophobic people can exhibit.

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  • They become uncomfortable when foreign people interact within the group.
  • Taking long routes to avoid certain places.
  • Reluctant to befriend someone because of their skin colour, language and dressing style.

Is xenophobia a mental disorder?

Xenophobia is not considered a mental disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA). However, psychiatrists have suggested that xenophobia can be a result of extreme racist thoughts and should be treated with a proper mental health course.


There are two types of xenophobia.

Immigrant xenophobia

When xenophobic individuals believe that people from other groups do not believe that they belong in the ingroup society or community.

They fear that these people may be a threat to their community or the group. So xenophobic individuals may show unwanted hatred.

They can reject people that belong to a different religion, community and nationality. They do not believe in other groups and their cultural activities. It can also result in violence and genocide.

Cultural xenophobia

Cultural xenophobia involves rejecting traditions, objects and symbols that belong to other races or communities. Cultural xenophobia includes language, music, clothing and belongings.

They even have a phobia of using other community things or utensils. They have a mindset that it can harm them or the community.


There are many factors that can contribute to xenophobia. Some of the reasons are listed below.

Social and economic insecurity

Social and economic insecurity plays a major role in xenophobia. People tend to blame the refugees when there is a certain economic and social crisis in the country or a community. This can also be a form of xenophobia.

People may also think the refugees may become superior, and social and economic insecurities can rise in the community.

Lack of contact

Lack of contact can also lead to xenophobia. When people disconnect from the outer world, they may lack certain knowledge about the world.

This can lead to xenophobia and an increased affinity to their own community, and fear of other communities.

Media portrayals

Sometimes, portrayals from the media can have a major impact on people. A lot of misconceptions can happen when these people are projected in the wrong way.

Fear of strangers

People can fear change, and new things can increase this fear. When new people interfere with their cultural practices, they have a fear that new people who intrude can destroy their community.

Lack of education and diversity

Lack of education can play a major role in xenophobia. Education about living together in peace with other fellow beings can increase peace and decrease thoughts of xenophobia.

Impact of xenophobia

Xenophobia can have a major impact on society. It can start from the individual level and affect society. It can pose a threat to the community that lives in peace.

According to data published in History of European Ideas, titled “The roots and consequences of xenophobia: Implications for European integration”, stated that xenophobia can lead to high aggressiveness, which can further lead to war. This is because there can be a weakening of mutual accommodations and inhibition against killing.

Symptoms of xenophobia

Xenophobia can be expressed in certain ways, and these can be symptoms of xenophobia.

Sometimes, the person will not know they are exhibiting certain xenophobic symptoms, and they will think that they are normal.

  • The xenophobic person may fear or feel uncomfortable when trying to mingle with people from the group.
  • They can avoid certain geographic areas or landscapes and take a long route to avoid certain having contact with the other group.
  • They will hate people from a certain country or geographic area. Refuse to maintain a healthy relationship with people because of their skin colour or other external factors.
  • They tend to think their group is superior compared to others. Most of the time, xenophobic people may have a superiority complex.

According to NCBI data, racial discrimination can become a societal issue and is recognised as a risk factor which can lead to mental health problems in racial and ethnic minorities.

How to combat xenophobia?

There are certain ways to combat and overcome the feeling of xenophobia.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy has proved that it has been an efficient therapy for xenophobia.

It also decreases the symptoms of depression, anxiety and trauma when cognitive behavioural therapy is administered, according to data published in the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy.

Cognitive therapy works by creating awareness of how marginalisation, discrimination and oppression can affect an individual’s thoughts, which can have a major impact on the community.

It also creates awareness about a xenophobic person’s behaviour and the consequences.

The therapy aims to encourage self-care and reduce thoughts of xenophobia.

Broaden your experience

Exposure to the outer world may reduce the symptoms of xenophobia. Some groups of people may have lived in a sheltered community and have less experience, which can lead to xenophobia.

Travelling to various parts of the world can reduce the feeling of xenophobia. When we explore and travel to certain cities and countries, we tend to learn about their culture and learn to live in peace with others.

Fight the fear of the unknown

Fear of the unknown and lack of knowledge can lead to xenophobia. Exposure to their communities and races can reduce this fear. Another effective way is to read books that can improve knowledge and reduce the fear of the unknown.

Pay attention to your xenophobic thoughts

You may be aware of the xenophobic thoughts. But the fear of xenophobia may mask your awareness and self-realisation. So, try to keep your thoughts in control, and self-awareness can help combat xenophobia.

Teach your children about other cultures

Xenophobia can be passed on from one generation to another. So, make sure you teach your children about the existence of other groups and communities. The importance of co-existence can help us live in peace. After all, our children are the next generation who should be taught about the importance of peace and co-existence.

Difference between xenophobia and racism

Xenophobia is the fear of strangers, or foreign groups and racism can be specific against certain groups and thoughts.

Sometimes both xenophobia and racism can be exhibited by a person. These thoughts should be treated properly. If they are left untreated, they can lead to significant health problems.


Xenophobia can lead to racism. So, they should be treated with care in the initial stages. If they are not treated properly, it can cause certain significant changes.

Our children should be taught about co-existence and respecting other languages and cultures. This should be taught by us to our children. Xenophobia can also lead to war. With proper knowledge and exposure, we can avoid these thoughts, which will lead to world peace.


What are the causes of xenophobia?

The common causes of xenophobia are social and economic insecurities and lack of contact. The other causes can be low self-esteem, illiteracy, indolence and ignorance.

What are the effects of xenophobia?

Xenophobia can lead to aggressiveness and racism, which can even lead to war.

What are the two types of xenophobia?

The two types of xenophobia are
1. Immigrant xenophobia and
2.Cultural xenophobia

What is the result of xenophobia?

The result of xenophobia can lead to fear of strangers. People with xenophobia tend to avoid foreign people, and they can reject certain objects that are related to foreign people.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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