This week the American Psychiatric Association (APA) announced it was adding “Fear of Parking Loss” to its official “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”. Fear of Parking Loss (FPL) is characterized by a belief that having free, on-street parking next to the front door of your destination is essential for human survival and a fear that this publicly subsidized parking might be taken away, resulting in bankruptcy, physical hardship, injury or death. Early symptoms include sending hyperbolic and apocalyptic comments, letters and emails about parking to government officials, newspapers and social media sites, and making hyperbolic and apocalyptic speeches about parking at public meetings. But FPL can manifest itself in much more extreme ways.
People afflicted with FPL can occasionally exhibit extreme anger and rage. FPL has led to injuries and even deaths as people afflicted with it have harmed or killed others whom they feared were trying to take away their parking spaces. This summer in Chicago, a man suffering from FPL shot two people, killing one of them in a dispute over a parking spot.
A few weeks later, four other Chicago citizens were shot in a parking dispute that left two dead. Just this year, people have been shot and/or killed in Knoxville, Chicago, Wichita, Miami, Atlanta, Texarkana, and Boston, all in disputes over parking. The year before featured at least a dozen murders including horrific ones in Baltimore and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where a man named Craig Hicks shot and killed three college students in a dispute over parking.
All this parking rage led the American Psychiatric Association to identify Fear of Parking Loss as a serious mental disorder. “In its milder forms the disease is fairly harmless but, left unchecked, it can become dangerous or even deadly,” said an APA representative. “It seems worse in urban areas where parking is scarce but it can manifest itself even in places where parking is plentiful.” Certainly milder cases of it are seen routinely in Saint Paul, Minnesota at public meetings and on public comment sites.
At the moment, there are no known cures for FPL but psychologists are experimenting with a treatment called “car-removal therapy.” According to Dr. D. C. Shoup, a clinical researcher, “We try taking away the patient’s car for short periods of time and forcing them to walk, bike or use public transit. Once they get used to this, we’ve found their Fear of Parking Loss greatly subsides or disappears entirely.” Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly is working on a drug called “Cartoxalin” that it hopes will treat the disorder. Cartoxalin is currently in Phase 1 clinical trials.
In the meantime, if you see symptoms of FPL in you or a loved one, see a psychologist. They may be able to help.