Radiophobia is abnormal fear of radiation. The term is used in several related senses: in reference to a neurological disorder, to a specific phobia, and to the anti-atomic energy attitude. more...
While being afraid of radiation is normal, since it presents clear danger, this fear may become abnormal and even irrational phobia, often because of being poorly informed, but also as a result of traumatic experience.
In the former Soviet Union many patients sick from radioactivity after the Chernobyl disaster were accused of radiophobia in attempts to diminish the scale of the consequences. Sadly, these claims were supported in some reports of experts from IAEA. At the same time, radiophobia, i.e., an exsessive fear of radiation did exist among the affected population, for the very reason that people knew that the government was lying about the degree of danger. Lyubov Sirota, the auhor of Chernobyl Poems wrote in her poem, Radiophobia:
- Is this only - a fear of radiation?
- Perhaps rather - a fear of wars?
- Perhaps - the dread of betrayal,
- cowardice, stupidity, lawlessness?
Similar attempts to mitigate the danger of radiation by stygmatizing the opponents of nuclear plants and nuclear tests with the label of "phobiacs" were known in the USA as well. In 1984 the United States Department of Energy awarded a contract to develop ways of overcoming public's "nuclear phobia".
At the same time, medical experts that investigate psychological consequences of Chernobyl present reasonable arguments that certain psychoneurological syndromes exibited in fatigue, sleep disturbances, impaired memory, etc., i.e., similar to that of chronic fatigue syndrome, did apper to have no direct correlation to the dose of radiation and the level of contamination of the area of residence.
Today the term "radiophobia" is polemicaly used e.g., by the opponents of the LNT concept (Linear no-threshold response model for ionizing radiation) of radiational security proposed by the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) in 1949, with "no-threshold" effectively meaning that even negligible doses of radiation pose danger. The issue remains controversial.
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