(BNN - May 13, 2007 - Philadelphia, PA) - University of Pennsylvania psychology professor, Gerard Stilkins, is leading a group of university psychology professors in a six-month study of what he says is the "largest outbreak of apantophobia since the Middle Ages."
Apantophobia - the fear of answers - is largely unknown in educated populations but was common in history, most recently in Europe during the Bubonic Plague (Black Death) pandemic of 1347 - 1350.
Prof. Gerard Stilkins explained that apantophobia was common during the period of the Bubonic Plague when Church officials could not deliver on their promise to eliminate the disease and cure its victims.
"Strange religious sects appeared as the fearful looked for someone to blame for the pestilence, reflecting the lack of control one felt over one's own life. One sect, the Flagellants, pitifully flogged themselves in manic religious processions hoping to avoid any unpleasant answers as to the real cause of the plague. Research has since shown that Flagellants actually suffered from apantophobia."
Prof. Stilkins began to notice the signs of apantophobia in his students devoted to 9/11 Truth in late 2002. "These students were passionate in their cause, demanding answers to questions about the 9/11 attacks. I became curious when I noticed over the last several years that most of the questions had been answered reasonably and logically with specific evidence many times over. These students did not seem to notice and kept on asking the same questions over and over, blank stares on their faces. They had all of the characteristics of the Flagellants of the Middle Ages."
Apantophobia has many distinct characteristics, Prof. Stilkins explained.
- The sufferer can be of any age, sex, or race, but is predominantly young, male, and insecure.
- The sufferer needs a cause; the nature of the cause is irrelevant but must be large and impressive to the sufferer.
- Questions related to the cause are all-important, revered in a religious-like manner.
- The phobia is characterized by long time periods of obsessive question development to avoid thinking about answers.
- Questions that are answered are nervously challenged with another question or ignored completely.
- If the answer is ignored, the answer is the correct one.
- If the answer is challenged with another question, the answer is the correct one.
- In either case, the question is recycled for later use unless the question brings back unpleasant memories of the answer.
- If questioned, the sufferer takes it as a personal affront, and replies with a question in a distinctive haughty tone.
- Over the long term, the phobia leads to declining health and long periods of suffering in dark rooms or closets.
"Mass manic apantophobia has not been seen in modern times and it is disturbing to see the 9/11 Truth Movement made up exclusively of apantophobics," Prof Stilkins says.
"We are hopeful that immersion in knowledge, reason, and truth will relieve, if not eliminate, their suffering."