What is Xenophobia

The Xenophobia is a kind of prejudice characterized by hatred, hostility, rejection and hatred of foreigners, which can be based on various historical, cultural, religious, among others.

It is a social problem based on intolerance and / or social discrimination in relation to certain nationalities or cultures.

This problem generates violence among the nations of the world, from humiliation, embarrassment and physical, moral and psychological aggression. All this, promoted mainly by the non-acceptance of different cultural identities.

In short, xenophobia is considered a kind of irrational aversion to foreigners, which generates too much anguish and anxiety in patients. In such cases, treatment is done through behavioral therapy.

Origin of Term

Initially, the term “xenophobia” was incorporated into studies of psychology in order to name a psychiatric disorder of people suffering from excessive fear of foreigners.

For the Greek philosopher Socrates (469 BC-399 BC) the concept of “foreigner” does not exist:

I am neither Athenian nor Greek, but a citizen of the world .”

Socrates thus defines someone who abdicates his nationality and thinks of humanity as a whole, regardless of culture, religion, custom, traditions, race, etc.

From the Greek, the term “xenophobia” is formed by two terms: ” xenos ” (foreign, strange or different) and ” phobos ” (fear), which literally corresponds to “the fear of the different”.

Ethnocentrism and Racism

The xenophobia is related to various types of concepts that include discrimination, formed by the feeling of superiority among human beings. Thus, ethnocentrism and racism are two concepts associated with certain types of discrimination.

Ethnocentrism is based on the thought of superiority of one culture over another (cultural prejudice). Racism, on the other hand, designates a type of prejudice associated with the races, ethnicities or physical characteristics of individuals (racial prejudice).

Xenophobia in the World

In America, the United States is considered one of the most xenophobic countries, making it difficult for immigrants to enter the country, especially Mexicans and Latinos in general.

Importantly, 21st century migrations, unlike the previous century, are based on the search for new opportunities in which the foreigner settles in the destination country.

This is mostly the case in the northern hemisphere countries that receive immigrants from the southern hemisphere in search of work and better living conditions.

The immigrant can be coerced by different hostile attitudes of the discriminators, from disrespect to their beliefs, habits, accents, physical appearance, socioeconomic conditions, etc.

Recent studies indicate that Europe has stood out in the theme of xenophobia, where it is considered a crime and violation of human rights. There are still many cases of discrimination (even among Europeans), and some of the targets of xenophobic acts are Asian , African and Latino immigrants.

Xenophobia in Europe

Studies report that cases of xenophobia in Europe have increased considerably in recent years. Many researchers believe that the economic crisis that many European countries are going through is directly reflected in the feeling of rejection and aversion to foreign countries.

Thus, the excess of foreigners, characterized by new migratory flows from different countries, corroborate the search for better opportunities for studies, work, housing, etc.

In thinking about the resident side, it is clear that the biggest concern is in nationalism. Some fear the loss of their national identity, such as customs and traditions.

It is worth noting the Holocaust, one of the events of mass extermination of Nazi Germany Jews, demonstrates the feeling called “anti-Semitism”, ie the hatred of the Jewish race.

Xenophobia in Brazil

Brazil is also not left out when it comes to xenophobia, although Brazilians show curiosity about what is considered different, that is, what comes from outside.

However, if we think that the country has continental dimensions, the feeling of superiority occurs among the various regions.

It is possible, for example, southerners to consider themselves superior to the Northeast, who have a larger black population, more precarious living conditions and access to the basic themes of health, culture, education.

Given this, we can consider the concept of “barbarism” that goes against that of xenophobia, since it represents the attachment to its culture, often discriminating against others.


  • “Xenophobic” is the name given to one who exercises xenophobia.
  • “The Foreigner” (1942), with the original title “L’Étranger“, is one of the great works of the French writer and philosopher Albert Camus (1913-1960). In this novel, he defends the idea that the foreigner is really one who does not recognize himself, thus provoking what the author calls ‘inner exile’.

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