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Break the barrier, and fly

 | August 11, 2012

Flight phobia is a fairly common condition that may affect as many as 10% of Malaysians, with others reporting a lower level of anxiety and avoidance of flying whenever possible.


Whenever I am in the LCCT airport, I love looking at those planes with the “Now Everyone Can Fly” slogan. I watch many people boarding these planes and yet I know that quite a lot of them would never even venture close. This is the phobic fear of flying sufferers.

Flight phobia is a fairly common condition that may affect as many as 10% of Malaysians, with others reporting a lower level of anxiety and avoidance of flying whenever possible.

It is evident that in the modern world of today, inability to cope with flying is a major disadvantage, especially for those whose work demands a great deal of travelling. On an everyday level, sufferers of flight phobia miss out on the opportunities for travel and holidays to distant locations.

Flight phobia can accompany both claustrophobia and agoraphobia or exists entirely as a separate specific condition. Some of my clients reported similar reasons for flight phobia such as a “boxed-in feeling”, “loneliness”, “fear of dying”, “fear of distant travelling”, etc.

Studies have revealed some interesting concerns on the nature and focus of this fear and the majority of flight phobics are primarily fearful of the possibility of an air crash.

Most of these sufferers stated that hearing and seeing news reports of air accidents figured prominently in the development of their phobia. This indicates that indirect, informational conditioning is important in the development of the condition.

This is in marked contrast to the specific flight phobic sufferers who experienced one or more traumatic events that frightened them during flying, such as turbulence or emergency conditions or an in-flight incident.

Fear of terrorism

Today, the buzz word for not flying is no more “faulty planes” but “terrorist attack!”

This global paranoid mindset has been formed ever since the Sept 11 attack. The word of the day is terrorism. Many people are subconsciously absorbing all these embedded media conditioning and are believing that their plane is going to end up as debris.

Malaysians are not spared from such indirect subconscious sabotages as some Western nations have labelled us as an Al-Qaeda training hub. This prompted some countries a few years back to recommend that their citizens not travel to Malaysia because of our so-called high-risk environment.

The fear of flying is not limited to being on an airplane. This fear extends to being subjected to tedious immigration checks stepped up to check terrorism at airports ; the third degree treatment if you are a citizen of a “high-risk” country or the discrimination of certain religions, that you will be sprayed like a bug for bacteria cleansing prior to entry into a country or that half your luggage content will be thrown out.

Hence, the main reason that more and more people are reluctant to travel by air is because of these negative conditioning and peer group programming. If you sit in a mamak stall at night and hear someone telling his friend not to fly because he viewed a segment shown on the Air Crash series on Astro, such negative thought is slipped into the subconscious mind to unconsciously compound and fuel an emotion that will trigger flight phobia soon. Watch out! You become what you think!

Gradual exposure, along with discussion and challenges to the negative cognitions attached to flying, is my preferred treatment for flight phobia.

Using hypnosis can help the person in a systematic desensitisation by recreating in the mind the feared experiences of flying. I always encourage the person to undertake a test flight and to report to me on the experience which challenges the previous negative beliefs to reduce fear.

This method helps reduce anxiety by coping up with strategies so that he or she is more likely to undertake a flight. I had such a success with a client who had not taken a flight since 1998.

Soar above all these fears, relax and fly. Break the fear “barrier’ in your mind today.

Julian is a London trained subconscious specialist with Hypno-Station. He can be contacted at [email protected].


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