Common kitchen salt has become an extremely rare kind of goods to find in grocery stores across Russia . People of different age groups, professions and social positions have started buying packs of salt without any particular reason. Food stores sell monthly stocks of salt within 24 hours. Salt has vanished from both city and countryside food stores. The unbelievable demand has led to record-high prices on the product too: the price of a kilogram of kitchen salt has increased ten times in many Russian regions.
The shortage of salt has apparently caused too much trouble to Russian pensioners. They probably recollected a similar situation after the end of WWII, when there was no salt in Soviet food stores anywhere. Crowds of elderly people snatched up packs of salt, matches and sugar during the weekend in Russia nationwide like in old communist times.
Russian high-ranking officials, food suppliers and agricultural experts say that there are no reasons for people to panic over the shortage of salt. Warehouses are full of salt and sugar, they say. The “salt fever” has apparently been caused with certain peculiarities of people’s psychology who still remember the era of the grand shortage of foodstuffs all across the Soviet Union. In addition, many Russians think that the food profusion may suddenly end because of mad cow disease, bird flu, severe winter cold, tsunami, earthquake, etc.
Another version to explain the current commotion in Russian grocery stores is connected with rumours. People probably assumed that they may not find Ukrainian foodstuffs, salt in particular, in food stores after the controversial gas conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Many believed that the price of sugar would triple, whereas salt would vanish from stores at all because of the economic scandal.
Russia is a country with market economy. The trading field of this economy will never tolerate such a gap: if a food-supplying company fails to meet a particular demand on the market, its competitors will do it for them immediately. Even if Ukraine had cut the salt supplies to Russia, it would have been possible to find alternative deliveries from other countries easily. Most likely, economic reasons have nothing to do with the current food stir in Russia.
The current situation reveals the technologies of psychogenic action used in the field of public awareness. A person suffering from psychosis is guided by emotions only whereas his or her critical thinking is pushed into the background. As a result, a human being starts taking illusions for reality. That is why people do not believe state officials when they appear on TV screens or radio channels and say that the situation will soon be normalized.
Psychologists say that mass psychosis may affect those who succumb to peer pressure and lack the power of logic. A classic incident of mass psychosis occurred in the USA in 1938, when US radio channels broadcast a radio drama The War of the Worlds. The radio programme described the Martians’ invasion on Earth. It was particularly said that the bellicose aliens had landed in New Jersey and started attacking humans with the use of lasers and poisonous gas. When the “radio report” was about to end, the listeners could hear something crashing in the studio. A lonesome voice started reiterating one and the same phrase afterwards: “Calling New York. Respond. Anyone on the line?” Thousands of Americans believed that the story told on the radio was true. People panicked, abandoned their houses, many attempted to commit suicide not to let the Martians kill them. When the Americans found out that it was just a radio performance, they were ready to lynch the director of the programme.
Another incident occurred in April of 1993 when 1,300 female students of two schools located in Cairo, Egypt, fell victims of a mysterious epidemic. The story started when one of the students lost her consciousness while reading a book to the rest of the class. Several girls followed their friend’s example and fainted as well. The epidemic started gathering pace very fast and stopped as suddenly as it started.