I am finishing up a book chapter on radiophobia, the "excessive fear" of radiation. The first instance of radiophobia I could find when searching through a a variety of indexes:
Radiophobia: a new psychological syndrome. 1951. Western Journal of Surgery, Obstetrics, and Gynecology, 59.11 (November 1): viiiBeyond Nuclear has a good description of the concept of radiophobia developed above in the article above:
Beyond Nuclear. 2013. Radiophobia: anxiety disorder misused. August 22, 2013, accessed August 24, 2013, http://www.beyondnuclear.org/children-health/2013/8/22/can-nuclear-power-ever-comply-with-the-human-right-to-health.htmlIn my book chapter, I trace the articulation and promotion of radiophobia as a social engineering project aimed at adjusting people to atomic technology given public distrust and concern. I am pasting the conclusion from my chapter and a link to a presentation I made of the chapter in November of 2015:
Link to presentation https://www.dropbox.com/s/3bl5ug7892ap848/Radiophobia.pdf?dl=0
Below find the conclusion of chapter on Radiophobia for a book exploring social contagion.
Radiophobia, Social Control, and Contested Claims to Truth
Radiophobia emerged in 1951 as a dangerous neurosis characterized by the dread of radiation most characteristically afflicting women concerned about their offspring. Radiophobia is described and promoted by atomic authorities who dismiss fear of atmospheric fallout of ionizing radiation using rationalized models for predicting radiation dose-effects predicated upon arcane and ultimately problematized models of dose-response exposure effects. Health physicists’ rationalized models of radiation exposure sought to replace the affective horrors of burnt and diseased bodies and the uncertainties of heritable mutations with abstract calculations of death by cancer (alone) provided in impenetrable technocratic measurements, such rems and millisievert. However, radiophobia’s proponents did not fully monopolize public opinion on radiation exposure effects. Dissident scientists and medical doctors contested radiophobia’s basic premise that the “fear of radiation exceeds its hazards” by describing publicly and in great detail the consequences of bioaccumulation of radionuclides within bone and organs, the special vulnerabilities of the young, and the heritability of radiation-caused germline cell mutations.
Despite their lack of voice, concerned mothers were in the past, and remain in the present, the primary protagonists in the contestations over radiophobia. The meme was designed to vaccinate health care providers and other expert authorities against mothers’ concerns and potential anti-nuclear activism. Radiophobia’s psychoanalytic and technocratic language aimed to minimize mothers’ agency and discipline their resistance to atomic authorities’ assurances of radiation safety. Although hystericized by radiophobia’s proponents, mothers’ tentative inquiries and undisciplined departures re-invigorate marginalized voices concerning ionizing radiation’s health and ecological consequences in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis. Mothers’ efforts to protect their children amplify the significance of scientific contestations over dose-models, special vulnerabilities, and transgenerational effects, especially now that the Japanese government is lifting evacuation orders and encouraging former residents to return home to areas that remain contaminated with genotoxic radionuclides up to 19 times higher in level overall, as compared to the allowable environmental level prior to the disaster. Rising incidents of thyroid cancer and nodules among Fukushima young people disrupt the radiophobia meme, lending support to dissident accounts. The question of whether Fukushima children’s thyroid cancer derives from Daiichi-sourced radiation is debated at length and across years on the international stage and in the pages of scientific journals, while Fukushima mothers strive below the mainstream radar to find the truths that will promote their children’s health and healing, fearing that it is already too late.