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Radiophobia is an abnormal fear of ionizing radiation, also used in the sense of fear of X-rays. The term is used in several related senses: in reference to a neurological disorder, to a specific phobia, and (polemically, not medically) to general opposition to the use of nuclear energy.

Fear of ionizing radiation is not unnatural, since it can be pose significant risks; however this fear may become abnormal and even irrational, often owing to poor information or understanding, but also as a consequence of traumatic experience.

Radiophobia and Chernobyl[]

In the former Soviet Union many patients with radioactive sickness after the Chernobyl disaster were accused of radiophobia [How to reference and link to summary or text], perhaps in attempts to diminish the scale of the consequences. These claims were supported in some reports of experts from IAEA. At the same time, radiophobia (in the sense of an excessive fear of radiation) existed widely amongst the affected population, for the very reason that people believed that the government was lying and seriously understating the degree of danger. Lyubov Sirota, the author of Chernobyl Poems wrote in her poem, Radiophobia:

Is this only - a fear of radiation?
Perhaps rather - a fear of wars?
Perhaps - the dread of betrayal,
Cowardice, stupidity, lawlessness?

At the same time, medical experts investigating the psychological consequences of Chernobyl have presented evidence indicating that certain psychoneurological symptoms, manifesting themselves in fatigue, sleep disturbances, impaired memory, etc., (i.e., similar to those of chronic fatigue syndrome), appeared to have no direct correlation to the dose of radiation received, or to the level of contamination of the area of residence.

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