Germanophobia is the irrational fear of Germany, German people, and German culture. Anti-German sentiments have been in the consciousness of people for hundreds of years. Much of the fear of Germany as a culture and as a people is due to what occurred from around 1933-1945.
During this time there was a rise in Nazi Germany, which was lead by the German politician Adolf Hitler. He was most known for his creation and enforcement of the Haulocaust, which was the genocide against Jews, where around 6 million European Jews were murdered.
For no surprise, this is among one of the main reasons as to why some people experience germanophobia. Besides Nazi Germany’s invasion of various territories throughout World War 2, such as Austria and Czechoslovakia in the late 1930’s, the imprisonment and murder of Jews and other “unworthy” people in concentration camps was enough to evoke germanophobia and anger in even the most Jainistic people.
People suffering with germanophobia may have extreme hatred or distrust toward German people, even in this present day. Though the German people of the current day are in no way culpable for the sins of their ancestors, some people fear them nonetheless and behave as if they are guilty of their people’s past atrocities due to the genetics they share with them.
Though germanophobia may not be nearly as widespread as it used to be back when Nazi Germany was in power, the aftermath of what occurred in that time can still be felt to this day. Thus, leaving some people experiencing an intense fear and distrust of German people.
Symptoms of Germanophobia
Someone experiencing germanophobia may feel intense anxiety at the mere thought of the country or of German people in general. They may become very emotional and upset when hearing news about the country or if the country is being discussed by someone. Though there fear of Germany may have some tidbits of rationality, especially when they dwell on what occurred during World War 2, the intense fear and dread that they feel in this very day is out of touch with reality.
Someone with full-blown germanophobia may treat Germans differently than other people and may ironically feel as though German people are an inferior race. They may find it very difficult to be in the same room with a German person, let alone have a conversation with them. It is this inability to interact with German people in any productive way that keeps the person suffering with germanophobia ignorant and anxious.
Besides being unjustly prejudice of German people, they may even take it as far as becoming paranoid and thinking that “the war is still going on.” Such is the case with some conspiracy theorists. Regardless of your own opinion of Nazi Germany, even people who don’t have germanophobia will often still have an abysmal impression on the country, which may be due to a subconscious bias.
Below, you will see some common symptoms of this phobia:
- Intense anxiety when in Germany or when talking to Germans
- Anxiety when thinking of Germany or of Germans
- Distrust or hatred of German people or of German culture
- Muscle tension, shakiness, sweating
- Increased heart rate and increased rate of breathing
- Inability to sufficiently cope with strong emotions
Causes of Germanophobia
There are no known causes of germanophobia. However, genetics and one’s environment may play significant roles in the development of this mental disorder. Someone with a family history of mental illness may have a higher chance of developing germanophobia. This has to do with the potential for them to then have a genetic predisposition for developing mental illness. Such a genetic predisposition may then only require that they experience a traumatic event of some sort for them to develop full-blown germanophobia.
Such a traumatic event could obviously be all of the atrocities that were done by Nazi Germany during the 1930’s and 40’s. The mass slaughter of millions of Jews and anyone else who opposed their military is enough for anyone to feel disgust when reminiscing on what occurred during those times, let alone for the people who actually lived through it.
It is firsthand experiences like those, as well as the many millions of onlookers in various countries who payed close attention to the media of the day for the latest updates of the war (WW2), as well as any other relevant news about Nazi Germany that may have also lead to some people developing a fear of Germany. In this current day, people may have germanophobia due to their ability to empathize with the people who were oppressed and slaughtered during Hitler’s reign, thus irrationally distrusting all Germans.
There are no known treatment methods that are specifically designed to treat germanophobia. However, talk therapy, exposure therapy, and anti-anxiety medication may be able to help reduce the symptoms associated with this disorder. Talk therapy may be able to help reduce someone’s germanophobia by getting to the underlying root of their fear of Germans. Improving their cognition, as well as improving their coping skills are just some of the many benefits of talk therapy.
Another very advantageous form of therapy for treating germanophobia is exposure therapy. Just as the name implies, the therapist would attempt to expose you to German symbolism, such as their flag, and may even have you watch videos of Germany. In this context, the goal with this form of therapy would be to try and desensitize the patient from their germanophobia. Theoretically, the more they would be exposed to German culture and people, the less anxiety they would feel due to their increased comfort.
Other forms of treatment that may be able to help reduce the anxiety that is associated with germanophobia is medication therapy. Some anti-anxiety medications may be able to help minimize the intensity of the symptoms experienced from germanophobia. However, merely taking medication alone will not teach you the necessary behavioral changes that may be necessary to improve your condition in the long term.
Psychiatric Medications for Germanophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe germanophobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.
These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their germanophobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.
These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as germanophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of germanophobia.
These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of germanophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Germanophobia
MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from germanophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with germanophobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.
Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of germanophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Germanophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from germanophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.
Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from germanophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.
For someone with germanophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.
To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of germanophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.
Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with germanophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Germanophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as germanophobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with germanophobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.
The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with germanophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their germanophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with germanophobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.
Yoga for Germanophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from germanophobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with germanophobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.
There are many different types of yoga that someone with germanophobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with germanophobia.
If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of germanophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Exercise for Germanophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including germanophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.
According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of germanophobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.
There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of germanophobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with germanophobia over time.
Caffeine Reduction for Germanophobia
It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with germanophobia to experience panic attacks.
So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.
Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with germanophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Germanophobia
DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like germanophobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.
One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with germanophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.
Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with germanophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.
Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with germanophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your germanophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Germanophobia
CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with germanophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.
CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with germanophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with germanophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.
Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with germanophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
If you think you may be suffering from some of the symptoms of this condition, then you may benefit from therapy. Feel free to reach out to your doctor or local mental health clinic to see what your available options are and to see if there is any sort of discount or promo code available to help you with the costs of treatment, as well as if your health insurance will cover treatment costs.