Dr. Avnish Jolly, 21st October, 2008 :These days, most of people don’t allow their children to play outside due to suspicious of strangers hence security cameras are everywhere. It seems that people have entered an age of fear and the indications are that things may only get worse. Hence fear is far more common among the general public than had previously been suspected, and on the increase due to the media and the threat of terrorism, according to key findings of recent study.
Dr Daniel Freeman, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, has spent a decade conducting pioneering research into paranoia and believes one in four people regularly suffer irrational fears of being threatened or in danger. Dr Freeman, recently developed a "virtual reality" method of diagnosing fear, believes a combination of factors has helped to create an "era of suspiciousness". One is the increasing number of people living in cities. For the first time, 2008 has seen urban populations in the world outnumber rural.
In 1800, just 5% of people around the world were city-dwellers. By 2030, this figure is expected to have risen to 65%. Rates of paranoia are known to be twice as high in cities than in rural communities, said Dr Freeman.
He pointed out that social bonds are much looser in cities than in smaller, rural communities where ready-made, relatively stable support networks exist and social isolation, a frequent drawback to urban life, is closely associated with paranoid thoughts. In the UK, nearly four times as many people live alone as fifty years ago. Increasing paranoia is certainly one more challenge posed by galloping urbanisation.
Dr Freeman said that public perceptions of crime and terrorism also contributed to an atmosphere of paranoia and criticised the media for hyping up these threats and adopting an "if it bleeds, it leads" attitude to coverage.
Dr Freeman reviled that every age has its own fears and ours includes terrorists, hoodies and paedophiles, but the amount of coverage they receive in both tabloids and broadsheets greatly outweighs coverage of our real killers, such as heart disease, cancer, and road accidents.
Dr Freeman said that dealing with fear at an individual level is relatively straightforward. But if we are really to get to the root of the problem, we need urgent action at a wider level. We need a range of policies to raise public awareness of paranoia, to train therapists and tackle the effects of potentially damaging social and economic trends.