We approach an important issue of knowledge of symptoms and diagnosis of multiple forms of anxiety and panic. It begins with a brief history of theterms of the original Greek, Etruscan and Latin. In ancient legends and known human history repeated descriptions about major disasters that may induce“collective psychosis”, panic and other psychopathological behaviors. It is necessary to recall the origin of the current terms calling legends and historydocumented. They are presented aspects of knowledge about panic and anxiety condition of children and adolescents and caused historically experiencesof Avicena and O. Weles. Also approached the possibility of medical-psychological intervention in conditions of anxiety and panic.
The term anxiety originates in Latin, havingseveral roots: anxio = fear, worry; anxietas – anxietatis= fear, apprehension; anxifer- anxiferum =to torture,torturing. These names refer to acute or chronicpsychiatric states including fears, terror, insecurity,somatic discomfort states, often ideation disturbances,accompanied by worrying and communicationdifficulties, dominated also by alterations in the statesof consciousness. It is known that child and adolescentanxieties result from the emotional fragility of theseages, which may sometimes evolve into psychicdisturbances of anxiety fixation on the subjects as,for example, on a person (doctors, neighbors, etc.) aninstitution: school phobia; animal phobias, on objectsor natural phenomena, etc. Anxious children maydevelop sleep disturbances: sleep anxiety, terrifyingdreams with sleep awakening or pavor nocturnus.According to CIM 10 and CIM 11, F40 codes referto generalized anxiety associated with various psychicdisorders [1-6].
PAN – a three-letter, easy-to-pronounce andmemorable word that appeared at the beginning ofhuman verbal communication, signalled in ancientGreek, became a notion with multiple meanings, atthe root of many words, beginning with “panem” =bread. The name of the god Pan came to mean alsogeneralized presence, “everywhere” (PanEuropean,PanAmerican, PanContinental),the notion of integeror wholeness, but alsoof horror and panic. Thegod Pan (the son of thegod Hermes – Mercury,messenger of the gods and patron of the thieves) is an Arcadian god ofnature, shepherds and flocks, of the whistle and ofthe pandean pipes. He had the power to suddenlyproduce people’s distress with fear, horror, extremebrutal collective terror, all without cause or byprovoking cataclysms: earthquakes, fires, plagues,etc .
Pan, the god – son of Hermes(Mercury) and of Dryope, alsocalled Lupercus by etruscansor Faunus by romans, he isthe inventor of the pan pipe =syrinx, protector of shepherdsand hunters according togreek mythology. He was halfhuman and half ram. Hehadthe power to induce fright,brutal terror, scare, horror.
Thus, the word PANIC evokes the release of areal danger that triggers chaos in psychic functionswith flights, intense negative emotions, loss of psychicself-control, leading to the subjective aggravation ofdanger. CIM codes 10 and 11-and those of DSM 5,note the association of panic states with conversiondisorders, stupor, disassociative fugues, and trancestates that we find in children and adolescents. Dueto the emotional fragility of these ages, contagion andimitation of anxiety and panic conditions predominatein their manifestations [6,8].
The contagion of these states known fromantiquity has been exemplified by experiments createdby humans. Under these experimental conditions,the panic attack has been shown to be transmittedthrough contact among adults and from adults tochildren. We note that, in most cases, panic attackin children has limited duration, it is reduced in thepresence of protective adults and yields to getting outof focus – plus anxiolytic treatments [5,8,9].
Panic transmission and reception mechanismsare permanently under study. A possible explanationdemonstrated during military research on thoughttransmission envisioned by Albert Einstein would bethe electromagnetic brain bio-waves. Research in the20th century turned to the possibilities of explanation byquantum theory. Thus, there is the possibility of interhumancommunication through quantum bio-wavesemissions between the transmitter’s cerebral cortex andthat of the receiver, organized on identical wavelengths.
It is also possible, through similar mechanisms, toestablish communication in superior mammals, theseassumptions being in research.
Stereotyped mechanisms of panic are known to betriggered by hypersensitive people called panic seeds(nuclei). From the moment of sudden panic attackswith shouting and flights, there are agglomerationswith agglutination and obstruction of escape routes, especially the exits. These associate with thrusts,strikes, falls, crushing, unconscious murders. Smoke,toxic gas and panic increase the number of victims .
The experiment that is known to provide the firstunderstanding of anxiety and panic states was doneby the Persian doctor (Ibn Sena) Avicenna (980-1037). A lamb and a wolf were placed in two closeupcages, so that they could see and sniff each other.After one night, the lamb was found dead. Theexperience was repeated during the day, and thatlamb also died all in 12 hours, under the pressureof constant fear. The next noteworthy experienceis that of Orson Welles who, in 1938, delivered anevening radio broadcast for tens of thousands ofAmerican listeners. They were listening to a “real”report which persuaded them that the United Stateswas being invaded by Martians. They took hold ofa train heading for New Jersey. There was a terriblepanic as a result. Whole families started on the roadin the middle of the night, honourable citizens didnot hesitate to shoot fire to the station of arrival,some anxious ones were committing suicide.Further, psychological and sociological studies wereconducted on the experiences of the citizens at thattime. The maximum panic timing and the follow-upof the experiment were established. In fact, Welleswanted to demonstrate the power of the media ininfluencing the population, but that experiment hashighlighted the rapid deployment of people’s panic.
It has been established that interactions of anxietywith psychic states of inability to react properly to thecircumstances of suddenly triggered disasters lead toa dangerous state of panic, which may also evolve todeadly victimization.
The psychoanalytic vision explains these gregariousmanifestations as a return to the memories of disastersin human prehistory, in which the struggle for life nolonger took account of any behavioural control, andonly one solution could be envisaged: “the one who isstronger escapes.”
A recent finding (2015-2016) described in themedical journalism reports a new experiment onextreme human states. The research hypothesis startedfrom the DNA study of volunteers exposed to acutestress conditions (earthquake simulation). Samplingbefore the experiment established the normal DNAmarkers, and those during and after traumatic shockwith panic, showed that the dimensions of human DNAchange in the direction of DNA molecule contraction.This experiment would be an argument that panicattacks can even produce permanent mutations in thestructure of the human genome [5,10].
In the authors’ opinion, in panic outbreaks, theinterventions should use the PFA (PsychologicalFirst Aid), a method that includes the presence ofparents or relatives, the administration of sedativeand anxiolytic medication, with psychotherapeuticsupport and treatment .