Russophobia is the irrational fear of Russia, Russian culture, and Russian people. Much of this fear is likely to be the result of what occurred during the Cold War (1947–1991) when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) aka the Soviet Union was in power. The Cold War was a state of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union (Present day Russia) and the United States, along with several other states and allies after World War II.
The Cold War was likely the cause of a great deal of distrust and fear of the Russians and may have played a significant role in people developing full blown Russophobia. People who suffer from this condition may find it extremely difficult to be around Russians or to hear about Russia in the news, for example. If such a situation occurs, then they may be filled with painful anxiety which may cause them to experience a panic attack insofar as their Russophobia is severe enough.
Another factor as to why people may have Russophobia could be due to the negative way that Russia is portrayed in the West as many news outlets in the US cover stories showcasing their distrust for the country and government of Russia. Through the Cold War and several other instances, the West has grown to become less trustworthy of Russia, especially with their alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election (though this has not been definitively proven).
It is important to note here that for someone to merely be opposed to Russian culture or to be distrusting of Russian people does not mean that they are Russophobic. It merely means that they are expressing symptoms of Russophobia. This is so due to the fact that Russophobia is a mental illness where their fear of Russia greatly hinders their day to day life. It is not merely disliking the Russian government.
Symptoms of Russophobia
Someone experiencing Russophobia will feel a great deal of anxiety when reading about Russia in the newspaper or when hearing about it on TV. They may become so overwhelmed with anxiety that they will be forced to put the newspaper down or change the channel so that they can relieve their suffering. As mentioned before, their anxiety may be so intrusive that they may experience full blown panic attacks which may require hospitalization.
Someone suffering from an irrational fear of Russians may go out of their way to avoid them. This may or may not be an issue depending on what part of the world they live in. For example, someone who lives in Kazakhstan or Finland who also suffers from Russophobia will likely struggle much more to avoid Russian culture than a Canadian would merely due to their location.
In some extreme cases, someone with this condition may be driven to engage in violence against Russians or those immersed in Russian culture due to no other reason other than they just so happened to be born in that part of the world or they have decided to experience the culture. Such acts of violence devoid of sound reasoning is not justified, regardless of how fearful Russians may make them feel.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of Russophobia:
Anxiety when around Russian people
Anxiety when hearing or reading about Russia
Irrational disgust of Russian culture
Avoiding Russian people
Unable to cope with their anxiety
May experience panic attacks
Causes of Russophobia
There is no known cause of Russophobia, but genetics and environmental factors may play significant roles. For instance, someone who has a family history of mental illnesses, especially of anxiety disorders, may have an increased chance of developing this condition. This is so due to them also having a higher chance of having a genetic predisposition to developing mental illness.
If someone were to have such a genetic predisposition, then it may only require that they experience some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown Russophobia. Such a traumatic event may be that they lived through or were a soldier in the Cold War and were greatly traumatized by the war. Or perhaps they were fed Russian propaganda at a young age which brainwashed them into having an irrational fear of Russians insofar as they had the genetic makeup to do so.
People who suffer from Russophobia, Japanophobia, Germanophobia, Dutchphobia, or any other irrational fear of a specific group of people or country are usually met with hostility and hatred. Besides not being self-aware enough to realize their own hypocrisy, it is important for such people to realize that these are mental illnesses and are not merely positions taken due to ignorance of the culture. There are clear differences that people should be cognizant of.
Russophobia Treatments (abridged)
For phobias such as this one, exposure therapy may be very advantageous at helping to reduce the symptoms experienced. Exposure therapy is a very common form of treatment for people suffering with most phobias. It works by having the therapist gradually expose the patient to their fear over a given period of time. Theoretically, the more they are exposed to their fear, the less it will bother them over time.
For someone with Russophobia being treated with exposure therapy, the therapist may expose the patient to Russian culture by having them look at pictures of Russian monuments or she may bring in Russian paraphernalia for the patient to observe and touch. Doing these things will inevitably give the patient a very high amount of anxiety. Though this may sound counterproductive, it can actually help to desensitize the patient from their fear over time.
Anti-anxiety medication or anti-depressants may also be very helpful for someone suffering from full blown Russophobia as it can help to relieve some of their unwanted anxiety. However, this is something that you will want to first discuss with your doctor.
If you think you may have Russophobia or if you are suffering from some of the symptoms outlined in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated for your condition. Upon doing so, your doctor may refer you to see a specialist such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist for further treatment.
Yoga Poses for Russophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from russophobia. 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 russophobia 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 russophobia 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 russophobia.
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 russophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Russophobia
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 russophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with russophobia 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 russophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Russophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from russophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimeous 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 russophobia 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 russophobia 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 russophobia, 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 russophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Russophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as russophobia. 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 russophobia 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 russophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their russophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with russophobia 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.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Russophobia
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 russophobia 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 russophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with russophobia 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 russophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
Psychiatric Medications for Russophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe russophobia 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 russophobia 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 russophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of russophobia.
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 russophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Exercise for Russophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including russophobia. 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 russophobia 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 russophobia, 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 russophobia over time.
Limiting Caffeine for Russophobia
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 russophobia 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 russophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Russophobia
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 russophobia 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 russophobia 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 russophobia 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 russophobia. 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 russophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Here at Psych Times, you’ll find a plethora of articles related to psychology, mental health, and overall well-being. Our goals are plentiful and include increasing the awareness of mental health, educating the public about why people think and behave the way they do, as well as helping to counteract the unfortunate stigma associated with mental illness.