ISMISM New concepts for the Nineties No. 7: Clausefourphobia

Share
Related Topics
The new Oxbridge psychomedical dictionary gives two definitions of Clausefourphobia.

1. Clausefourphobia: a morbid fear of confined political spaces. Applies only to those active in the world of politics. The word derives in part from the Latin (claustrum: an enclosed space), in part from the British Labour Party (four: the fourth and least comprehensible part of a party constitution) and in part from the Greek (phobos: deep fear).

The term now denotes a denial of the past, caused by a pathological inability to reinvent oneself. So, for instance, "Margaret who?" might indicate the classic symptoms of a Conservative Clausefourphobic. "Robert Maclennan, didn't he play Dr Snoddie in the remake of Dr Finlay?" from a Liberal Democrat, on the other hand, is a healthy sign.

Originally the condition was discovered in leading members of the Labour Party in the late Eighties and mid-Nineties. It was observed that these sufferers felt substantial discomfort that their freedom of manoeuvre was constrained (patients would describe the feeling as "caught in the Webbs"). Psychological worries would become embarrassingly physical, with Labour Clausefourphobes complaining of the impossibility of maintaining an election.

In the early days of this condition's diagnosis, some doctors would do little more than advise a change of scenery, party and the wearing of less constricting underwear. Others told patients "it was all in the mind" or, even less enlightened, that their worries were irrational (the "who reads the bloody constitution anyway?" school). Their advice was to sit a little closer to Tony Benn every day and see if the feeling would diminish.

More recently we have seen the development of a new breed of specialist psychopoliticians, who prefer surgery as a response, involving the excision of those parts of the body politic that cause concern. Such surgery, usually performed at night, is described with black humour by those wielding the scalpels as "debate". Medically, "debate" has helped cure some Labour Clausefourphobia, but has also stimulated:

Agoraphobia: the fear of wide open ideological spaces. In particular an aversion to market places (Greek: agora, market-place). Sufferers are people who cannot go out at night, unless there is a small, smoky room with several other agoraphobes in it to offer solidarity and affirmation (see also Abbott, Diane; Cash, William; Galloway, George and any combination of Party, Tendency, Socialist, Worker's, Europe and Democratic). Patients suffer terrible delusions that "old ways are best" and mentally transform appalling defeats into glorious victories. Agoraphobes also have difficulties with elections - but don't notice.

or: 2. Clausefourphobia (see top): The second meaning is more widely based and can affect anybody who reads broadsheet newspapers. A feeling of inescapable bewilderment at the actions and priorities of the political class (see Labour and ownership, Conservatives and Europe etc). Characterised by an enormous sense of relief when "debates" are concluded.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Neo-Nazis march in London  

I'm taking my Jewish kids to a vile neo-Nazi rally in London this weekend because I want them to learn about free speech

Richard Ferrer
A police officer carries a casualty to safety  

Tunisia attack proves that we cannot stop terrorists carrying out operations against Britons in Muslim countries

Robert Verkaik
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map