A simple therapy for fear of flying

Dear Mr Parks,

My name is Margaret. I wrote to you in June about my claustrophobia and the panic attacks I got when on an airplane, you were extremely kind in helping me over the phone, before my trip to London and then to Africa (18 hours total) and I promised to let you know how it went.

The trip went fantastically well. I was of course nervous and worried as usual, but did NOT for the first time in many years take a sedative even though I was tempted to. I had NO panic attacks, not even a hint of one, and I conjured up all the things that triggered them, and NOTHING. I did get seats in the front of the airplane on two occasions, but on two other occasions I sat in rows 26 and 16, and in row 26 I sat between 2 people a situation that would normally be disastrous, and still nothing happened.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your selfless kindness in helping me.

Best regards,

Margaret xxxxxx

Many people fear flying. Often it is an incapacitating fear, and they are forced to travel by ground or water transportation.

This fear does not respond to reason. Perhaps someone they knew was killed in a plane crash, perhaps it was something they saw on television or in a movie, or a bumpy airplane ride, or maybe it was a fear they picked up from somebody else.

We have an inborn fear of falling and loud noises. When the ride gets bumpy you must remember that a wing hasn't come off a plane in at least 30 years. I think it was an Electra prop-jet flying over Florida. That problem has been fixed. There is always some risk, but a lot more risk driving to the airport.

So intellectually you KNOW it's far safer to fly than to drive. But that's your conscious mind that knows that. Your fear of flying comes out of the subconscious mind, which is very child-like and doesn't respond to reason. It does respond to a command, from another person, unless you consciously block it. So in this exercise, my voice will say that when I click on the microphone and say DISCONNECT! it will disonnect you emotionally from your fear of flying. These irrational fears can be brought up out of the subconscious just by your imagination. Shadows on a movie screen can bring up lots of emotion for many people, even though they know the whole thing is totally phony. You RELATE to what's on the screen and that is an unconscious process, a function of the subconscious mind. So what I have you do in this exercise is imagine you are in the airport, then going down the loading ramp, sitting in your seat, the plane backing out, then taking off. Probably just reading about it brings up fear in many of you. That's good. It shows contact has been made with your subconscious mind and it is ready to receive the suggestion that you will be disconnected from the CAUSE of the fear you're feeling.

Of course you MUST have a soundcard to listen to this excersize. I would do the exercise a couple of times, wait a day or two and do it again, as many times as you wish until you are comfortable all the way through the imagination part. On the plane you can tell your mind to stop the emotion if some does come up. Usually it is quite weak and easily controlled. If you fly with someone, you could have him/her do the exercise for you to take away the fear. Simply have them say "When I squeeze your hand and say DISCONNECT! it will disconnect you completely from the cause of the fear you're feeling now." (squeeze)DISCONNECT! (squeeze)DISCONNECT! (squeeze)DISCONNECT! Now let's get on with the exercise. You can replay it or stop it pressing the appropriate button. It will sound better with earphones than with a speaker, but probably works as well either way provided you understand it.

NOTE: The author of this page is not a state or medically-licensed professional.


Click the Play buton to hear the short sound file

Click the Play button to hear the long file (recommended if you have the time)

 

Loren Parks


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