Afraid to Fly
freaks me out!!!!! I thought I was
going to have a nervous breakdown when we
were landing after the first circuit.
I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm
going to try hard to fly somewhere other
than the airport but I think it's going
to take some time and probably a lot of
valium before we fly to your place!
Just the thought of getting into the
plane turns my stomach sick and I start
tearing up ... go figure ... maybe I need
This is how the wife
of a good friend and fellow pilot
describes her feelings about flying.
I would think just about everyone reading
this article is either a pilot, or would
like to be. People who would rather
fly than eat. Thus it's probably
difficult to understand this woman.
However, AVIOPHOBIA is a very real
problem for up to 30% of our population.
Symptoms can vary from trembling, chest
discomfort, sweating, faintness, to
extreme panic attacks where the victim is
convinced he's unable to breath and that
death is imminent.
The fear of flying
may come from other phobias such as
claustrophobia, the feeling of loss of
control, a fear of heights, the fear of
terrorism, flying over water and so on.
In some cases, it can be somewhat
controlled with the use of prescription
entrepreneurs sell their various methods,
videos and mechanical devices they say
will cure the problem. Some may be
effective, some not. A few
airlines hold seminars and workshops to
assist people in overcoming aviophobia.
And of course there are those who will
choose a few quick drinks before and
during the flight to get through it.
proven treatment for phobias, called
"exposure therapy" requires
sufferers to face their fears head on.
However, it's probably not a good idea to
force someone who is terrified of flying
into an airliner and take off. The
panic attack triggered by such a move
would undoubtedly result in an aircraft
diversion to the nearest medical
facility. It's a very scary thing
there has been new scientific research
aimed at controlling phobias. Some
in the neuroscience community feel that
it's possible to eliminate deep-seated
fears by removing the memory that created
it. Here are some of the ideas put
controlled by a small area of the brain
that directly activates your response to
that fear. The conscious mind
is bypassed, actually short-circuited for
a period of time, thus not allowing the
victim to rationalize the fear. In
other words, when someone is afraid of
spiders suddenly sees one, he reacts
immediately by jumping back or killing
the insect. But when he's reading a
book about spiders, and there's not one
present, he's able to rationalize that
spiders can't hurt him.
itself comes from the memory that created
it. Sometime in the past, an event
initially traumatized the victim, and
each time it happens again the fear is
triggered. But, when you recall
something, you don't recall what
originally happened. You actually
recall WHAT YOU RECALLED the last time
you recalled it. This is proof
that a memory can be updated and
modified. In other words, your
memory of an event is only as good as
your last memory of it. Each time
it's susceptible to change. The
last memory becomes your reality, and
that is why alien abductees can pass
lie-detector tests. It also
explains why fishermen catch bigger fish
each time they tell the story.
are the discoveries neuroscientists are
working on. What are they doing
with this knowledge you ask. The
theory is that by eliminating the
original cause of a fear, it can be
eliminated. Because the part of the
brain that reacts to the fear has been
identified, it now becomes a matter of
using drugs to stimulate or short-circuit
that tiny section of neurons. They're
doing exactly that in tests with rats.
The rats are given a small electric shock
after an audible tone is generated in
their cage. After a few cycles of
tone-shock, tone-shock, the classic
Pavlovian response occurred. The
rats heard the tone, the rats froze
(expecting the shock). But when
given a particular drug at the moment
they expected the shock, they soon forgot
that the tone meant shock.
means for people with aviophobia is that
there's a possibility someday in the
not-too-distant future, you'll be able to
take a pill just before your flight, and
the fear you have will be eliminated.
Once you have no recollection of the
fear, or the last time you felt that
fear, you'll be good to go and can get on
with enjoying what the rest of us have
loved doing for years.
quite early in the research, it's
important enough to aggressively
continue. Phobias can be a minor
discomfort for some people, and for
others a major life-altering dilemma.
Business leaders, sports figures,
politicians, celebrities, the ranks of
them all include aviophobics. It's
unfortunate that flying for my friend is
among his greatest pleasures, while for
his wife it's her greatest fear.