Scared that doomsday will soon be upon you? Worry that the mild gastric indigestion may really be sign of an impending heart attack? Welcome to the world of panicology where your fears, real or imagined, take total control…
JUST before the cricket match ends, how many of you go into a panic mode? How often do you get the jitters about being sacked? Are you worried often about not getting enough sex? Or why you’re not getting pregnant? Ever wondered why do people go in a panic every time the stock market fluctuates!
We’ve almost made a hobby of panicking. Ask yourself, how often do you wrestle with panic? Don’t worry; you’re not the only one. Barely a day or week passes without us panicking about something. A Times Life snap poll conducted in metros of India about what’s worth worrying about and what’s not threw up a few surprises.
It seems we’re panicking about a variety of things and the menu just got longer. We assessed panic in various areas of life: relationships (including marriage, sex, childlessness), health (obesity and serious illness), hobbies (drinking to dangerous art), society (pensions, debt and migrants), work (stress, jobs, promotion), law and order (including murder and terrorism). We asked men (age 23 to 47), women (23 to 47) and children (9 to 16) about what puts them in a state of panic.
People’s fear stories have got wilder. We think of panic as ‘something normal’. But how worried should we be about
trivial things? Says psychiatrist Dr Avdesh Sharma, “Men fear not being the best. After job and financial anxiety, more men are worried about looking old and not being good in bed. They fear someone younger will replace them at work. There’s great panic about losing control and getting angry at home or in public. Some men even worry over not being able to get enough sleep.”
That isn’t all, men fear losing a cricket match,
What men fear?
- 80% men fear accidents
- 80.5% panic about their job and finances
- 79% worry about their sexual performance
- 65.5% stressed about paying bills on time
- 70% men fear being laughed at
- 50% fear loneliness
Getting stuck in traffic jam, getting into a legal problem, taxation, illness of a loved one. Says cricketer Irfan Pathan, “A cricketer will get panicky before every game. But he can’t afford to do that. He needs to be focused and cool. The trick is panic management. Solve your problem.”
True. Ask Chandu Behl, 71, Delhi-based businessman, what does he panic about: “I stress about leaving my house unlocked, my business, taxation, road rage, health, fire, safety of loved ones. Most of my panic is imaginary.” While rating panic, more men admit, loneliness is a growing fear. Then there’s an increasing pressure to be a social animal. Says Karan Chandok, 25, working in a Gurgaon BPO, “I get very panicky when I have to walk to a party all alone. I wonder if I’ll get the right partner to dance with. What if girls laugh at me? I feel uneasy when I think about it.” A 25-year-old Mumbai boy fears bad luck every time he leaves his house in the morning.
Vinay Lal, director, University of California (UCLA) says, “As India becomes more modern, we’re bound to panic differently. We’re experiencing different kinds of fears. Some are irrational and illogical. Others are more profound. Migration of people to urban clusters has increased the things we panic about. Fear for safety because of law and order has driven people to seek justice themselves.”
Why are we getting fixated with fear? A new book Panicology tries to resolve the angst we feel about situations and things. The authors Simon Briscoe and Hugh Aldersey-Williams, tell Times Life, “It’s fashionable to worry about a variety of things, we have a bigger list of exotic worries. The problem is that we are poor at distinguishing between the amusing and entertaining —think of all those scary movies — and the real threats to our lives. We chat more and use the Internet that could be a reassuring process but often works in the opposite direction. It is a shame that we are not better at assessing risk in our lives,” says Simon.
What women fear?
- 85% panic about office politics
- 79% fear about relationships — marriage, sex, betrayal
- 68% panic about not being liked enough
- 50% panic about household jobs, maidservant going on leave
We asked a 26-year-old Mumbai girl to rate her scares out of 10, here what she said: Fear of losing a loved one — 10, jealousy — 7, faith issues — 6, loneliness — 8, family problems — 7, evil eye — 4, reputation — 5, clothes malfunction — 9.
Take Surabhi Mathur, schoolteacher, every other morning she panics about leaving the kitchen gas on. Says US-based Indian actor Sheetal Sheth, “Everyday you fret over things. But sometimes we women panic over non-issues. I think, we need to control our impulsive worrying over things like looks, weight etc. Real panic should be over serious concerns.”
Can we judge more astutely the real risks that face us? Says Priya Sarukkai Chabria, author, “We need right information to evaluate our fears. In conservative societies, there’s fear of losing social standing. There’s a pressure to be the best. Just talk to someone and half your anxiety is irrational.”
According to Panicology.com, people in different countries might fear different things (the Danes apparently worry most about nuclear power, the British about terrorist attacks, the Italians about radiation from their beloved mobile phones), yet anxiety is everywhere a condition of modern life. Says Hugh Aldersey-Williams, author of Panicology, “Giving people more freedom means that they have more to decide about — what sort of food to eat, what energy to consume, what school, doctor, hospital to use, etc — and this induces worry and panic.”
What children fear?
- 80% panic about losing friends
- 90% worry about doing badly in exams
- 50% fear being laughed at or bullied
- 75% girls want to make a good impression
“Children are particularly worried about their bodily changes, and if they’re looking like their icons. If a girl is over-weight, she goes through panic,” adds Sharma.
The big question is: how should we keep the calm? Says Geetanjali Prasad, relationship and family expert, “When we were in joint family, we could talk about our concerns, now there’s no outlet. Hence, we’re anxious about everything because we do not have access to right information. There’s insecurity, danger of losing job, husband. I was always superstitious when people told my husband we make a great couple. I panicked about nazar. It was crazy but true. Today, stress and competition give you anxiety. It’s all about being good in bed, at work, at home. But we need to cut back the stresses and keep our calm.”
WORRYING ABOUT EVERYTHING
When bird flu scare hit Delhi, Tandoori chicken was left untouched and uncooked! And when we’d just recovered from this scare, we heard Earth was going to be hit by a satellite. Now, as we near Earth Day, environmentalists are scaring us about a climatic change. Even TIME magazine warns, ‘Be worried, be very worried.’ The science of panicology is taking a new shape. It seems people are worrying themselves silly about everything and anything. From rising prices of petrol, gold to vegetables. Now it’s ladies who’re worrying about going bald.
We’re also freaking out over dry taps and no electricity. Imagine being in an urban office with no water, air-conditioning and non-functional loo! Enough to send you in a panic. Onion shortage is known to give grandmom stress! Just the other day, a woman was panicking how a lunar eclipse in August would throw her life into topsy-turvy. Meanwhile, Italian men not helping much around the house is apparently one of the principal reasons why their women are producing so few babies. While Indians are worrying about overpopulation right now. Going to a cinema hall for a movie brings its own panic attacks, what if there’s a b**b! Right now, everybody’s favourite panic story — being fat. The list is long one with every individual having his/her own panic story!!