Panic is a common condition consisting of a raised heart rate, pale and sweaty skin, wide eyes, and disconnection of the brain from the mouth. It manages to afflict a wide range of people across the whole
gamut of social classes. Students seek panic by spending their time in the university bars rather than the library near exam time. Politicians achieve it by making rash statements of policy in the run-up to elections. Doctors discover it when they take on particularly inventive patients, and parents succumb when they realise that they didn't listen to their own parents and thus have no idea how to control their own offspring.
People in the grip of a good panic find themselves spiralling into a deep inescapable pit of rash decisions, unhelpful comments and threatening bowel rumblings. Panics may last between a few seconds and
an entire lifetime and cannot be cured, though they eventually recede when they judge for themselves that they have run their course. Prevention can be sought by the careful application of views of the countryside and nice grassy fields. Ineffectual remedies include
excessive activity to try and distract the mind from the panic: going to sleep, taking a bath, finding someone to say, 'there there, it'll all be okay', and doing absolutely nothing in the hope that it goes away
or turns out to be a dream.
Historical panickers include Charles I, the Emperor Nero, Richard Nixon and General Custer. Panic is rarely fatal but can often lead to an unsightly mess in the streets beside the high-rise buildings of