An atmosphere of fear is the natural result of living under the threat of nuclear war. Fear makes the maintenance of objectivity more difficult, and can lead to a rejection of reality and a retreat to false solutions based on distorted facts. When facts are distorted, freedom of expression may be misapplied, leading to pathological group action even on a national scale. Although concern about nuclear war and the arms race is reasonable and natural, it can lead either to a feeling of individual futility and impotence or to a rejection of social roles; such reactions contribute to increases in drug dependence and in the suicide rate.
The fears of nuclear destruction that have become pervasive since World War II were in evidence since near the turn of the Century. A French writer, Gustave Le Bon and a British chemist, Frederick Soddy warned of the use of atomic energy in 1903. Between these warnings and the actual development of the atomic bomb many of the mythical and visionary themes associated of nuclear energy were being used: transmutation, fiery destruction, utopia, transforming rays, genetic monsters, and earth as a wasteland. With the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki these images were given concrete expression and since have only be added to.
An armed world, stocked with enough lethal power to wipe out all human life, always adding to its potential for conventional and mass destruction; a world spanned by modern surveillance systems; a world aware that no part can be protected from direct attack by nuclear missiles; is a fearful place for hundreds and hundreds of millions of peoples who strive to better their lot. The fear and tension which this induces is a factor which inflames conflicts between groups and between nations.