or fear of flying, is an anxiety unlike other phobias because it can recur
even after supposedly successful treatment. However, there is a great
distinction to be made between other anxiety disorders and the nervousness
that most passengers experience when they fly. The attitude of aerophobics
is caused mainly by their lack of knowledge about the relative safety
The phobia is complex,
which goes some way towards explaining its unusual feature of recurring.
There are six elements of aerophobia that have been distinguished. These
in which a person feels trapped and fears suffocation.
- A panic related
anxiety in which the subject fears that he or she may experience a heart
attack, go crazy or lose control yet have no means of escaping from
- Space phobia, whereby
a person is terrified by the idea of being 'surrounded by nothingness'.
- The fear of the
aircraft crashing because of adverse weather, mechanical failure or
a terrorist bomb.
- The fear of heights.
reaction in which the fear of flying follows an emergency landing or
Most studies demonstrate
that anxiety disorders such as this are more predominant in the middle-aged
than in the young or elderly and are more common in women than in men.
There are various
methods of treating aerophobics -
- Most airlines
run courses for fearful flyers.
- The medical profession
provides psychotherapy through chartered clinical psychologists (UK)
and cognitive behavioural therapists (US).
- Stress therapy
such as transcendental meditation is a useful alternative to clinical
- Confronting the
fear directly. This method, based on behavioural concepts such as desensitisation,
is practised by many airlines. The fear is gradually overcome through
repeated confrontation of the object or situation.
- Those who like
to feel more in control of the situation may benefit from trying out
a simulator in which they can experience ' piloting ' an aircraft for