As far as I know, this topic hasn't been posted:
Does Wal-mart trigger panic attacks? It seems to. I would like to see if any health professionals have noticed increases.
I don't have a ton of evidence to back this up other than some first hand experience with my own episodes of panic and some anecdotes from a relative
regarding a friend's spouse.
I have General Anxiety. For the most part I just live with it. I have learned to accept feeling overly weird and uncomfortable in certain social
situations. In many ways, it is a positive "problem". I often notice much much more of what is going on around me than someone who is
"comfortable" and thinking about other things.
There has never been a store that makes me more uncomfortable than wal-mart. I suspect this happens to me for two categories of reasons:
1. WAL-MART'S PHYSICAL MAKEUP IS UNSETTLING. Simply, there ARE a lot of cameras in wal-marts. We've all most likely had the creepy feeling of
"feeling watched". So, it stands to reason that walking into a wal-mart plays into this phenomenon.
And what about the store design? Banks are set up to project "authority." This is to make us feel that our money is safe. But it also projects
authority over the bank customers as well. Similarly, wal-mart uses design to influence us and our buying behavior. An awareness of being manipulated
can be unsettling.
Before I stopped shopping at the stores, a new w-mart opened in my small town. It was even creepier than normal, because employess usually outnumbered
customers in the late evenings when I went. Also, many just seemed to be "shipped in" from other communities.
By this I mean that they just weren't familiar seeming people. This is odd in small town midwestern settings (and I don't mean creed or race).
Simply, you usually run into employees in stores that you know, or recognize accents, or just sort of get a "local vibe". I'm also sure that w-mart
initially places "veteran" workers from other stores into newly opened stores. Not always a negative thing, if at all. But when a huge new store
opens and you don't recognize anyone, well...it seems the wal-mart dropped in from some other universe or dimension. Unsettling if you think about
So, I REALLY felt the urge to leave as soon as I got there. I had already limited my purchases to necessary computer-related stuff...stuff that I
can't get anywhere else in town. I'd be looking forward to getting the cable or whatever that would allow me to use my home pc the way that I wanted
to...but as soon as I got in the store I wanted to run.
Another Lady, the spouse of my sister's friend, had her first ever panic attack in a wal-mart. This lady seemed to have the "usual" amount of
anxiety over regular things for most of her life, or at least the years that her husband had known her. But one afternoon, the husband got a call from
his wife. She was weeping and needed her husband to leave work and to pick her up because she was afraid to move.
She was calling from a wal-mart changing room. She felt "safer" there and wouldn't leave alone. And there was no discernable reason for her
So, this category can be summed up as: Due to the number of cameras, and watchful employees, and attention paid to surveillance in general, and maybe
even the store design itself (like the high ceilings, etc.), wal-mart can cause or antagonize feelings of anxiety or panic.
2. WAL-MART IS "EVIL". Maybe my "spider-sense" goes off in w-mart because we know the company's practices are unhealthy to the overall well-being
of American citizens (I am writing this in the U.S.). By being there we are aiding-and-abetting the Chinese government, a government that severly
oppresses its people, i.e. limited religious and philosophical freedom of speech, mandated offspring limits, poor working conditions, etc.
Also, wal-mart was the primary pusher of the Bar Code after its creation and is now THE LARGEST proponent of RFID technology. Privacy is at stake.
More info here: Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering
I mentioned that General Anxiety has some benefits in that it often causes me to "take in" more of my surroundings in detail. A small bit of
paranoia never killed anyone, right? I have noticed that I am often "hyper-aware" compared to people that are more comfortable in situations. I have
talked about this with them.
Whereas a comfortable person might be thinking about other unrelated-things (with regard to being in a wal-mart), I on the other hand am apt to be
thinking only about the experience of being in the store: where are the people, cameras, why is the store layout designed this way here?, etc.
I have been told to be, and found myself to be, intuitive in a number of situations. I just want to mention this, without sounding self-serving
hopefully, that I am a good judge of character (of places and things in addition to people) and so forth. And wal-mart totally creeps me out like a
person that my "spider-sense" warns me about.
It's kind of like when you get "older" and "wisened" enough to listen to that little intuition you get in certain situations. Like: Leave this
bar, a fight is going to happen. Or: Leave this restaurant, the food and service will not be good. Or: That little kid is going to run out into the
street. When I was young, I kind of ignored it because I hadn't yet had enough experience to know that I should instead LISTEN to that bit of
intuition. That "voice" speaks to me in wal-mart.
So, I stopped shopping there of course. The cons outweigh the pros tenfold where wal-mart patronage is concerned. Saving even a few dollars isn't
worth driving independent competition under, often in areas where only one or two stores compete with the 'Mart Titan. It isn't worth saving a few
dollars when I learn how the Chinese government treats its people. It made me feel guilty after I shopped there.
Now I feel better supporting a locally owned grocery store. Or seeking out an American product. Or a Japanese one over a Chinese one if that's the
So, is this "panic in wal-mart" a noticeable phenomenon?
[edit on 2-6-2008 by 2nd Hand Thoughts]