Freud's fourfold ætiological formula used for panic; external danger
- 184 -
not 'the' cause. External danger mobilizes aggressive impulses, if there is no immediate opportunity for outlet the mind when dealing with the increased mental tension is forced to effect a redistribution of love and hate cathexes; perhaps an incapacity to do this rapidly enough is the specific cause of panic.
In panic self-control is lost and social bonds are broken. Ordinarily members of an organized group have distributed their love and hate in recognized and safe channels; the dissolution of group cohesion (panic) may bring those near and dear to the self within range of (formerly distantly projected) hostility; i.e. breakdown of group system has personal as well as social consequences. Panic adds guilt to the already disturbing anxiety, and less of capacity for constructive activity for loved objects in danger increases mental anguish.
In panic larger-group loyalties is often lost while loyalty to smaller-groups remains: this libido shifting is done to diminish mental strain, it is commonly regarded by Central Authority as rebellion or disaffection.
Air raids likely to produce strain from two sources: external and internal dangers. Internal dangers chiefly due to mobilization of infantile phantasies with accompanying anxieties and guilt, particularly aggression against loved objects.
Psychological Precautions: since panic is not a new thing but reawakening (in modified form) of infantile anxieties those measures found efficacious in infancy may be applied to meet panic problem of adults. Four main measures (then as now): (a) Membership in a group: panic best allayed by doing something for those one loves, i.e. contributing to security or comfort (mental and physical) of group. Manipulative activity (itself satisfying, i.e. calming) is here yoked to social purposes. (b) Mastery of sources of danger: this includes all activities (not only shooting down bombers and dowsing conflagrations) which turn activity outwards if in service (phantasied or actual) of the community. (c) Diminished reliance on magic: magic is dangerous because of its independence of external reality (amulets proving ineffective against H.E.) and because the magical remedy (belief in a High Protector—God, Government or Talisman) may be suddenly doubted, when as suddenly self-confidence—and all confidence—collapses. (d) Relation to Authority: the Government (parents in the nursery, the Executive in the State) must (i) govern, i.e. deal fairly as between child and child, as between class and class; and (ii) protect. It must provide food (in panic there is infantile regression and food spells security); it must take the lead in active defence against enemy attack and thus show a vigorous face against the evil without (which helps also to combat fear of evil within). A respected Government is necessary for social security in time of danger, and that respect is willingly given if it is deserved. Summary: panic not a new experience but recrudescence of
- 185 -
infantile anxieties; measures then adopted unconsciously to deal with individual panic should be the basis for consciously planned anti-panic measures in adult community in time of air raid risk.
- 186 -
(1939). Clinical. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 20:184-186