Fear of Flying: What Kind of Stressed Passenger are You?
Since the beginning of time, Man has always dreamed about being able to fly, and today it’s easy and commonplace to do so thanks to airplanes. But for some people, flying frightens them, some people even to the point of it becoming a phobia.
How dangerous are airplanes?
World aerial transport statistics make it clear that flying is safe and getting safer all the time. Over the past 25 years, the number of passengers has doubled from one to 2 billion per year, and the number of victims has gone from 2000 a year to 500. When you consider that in France on average about 6000 people die yearly driving, it puts things in perspective.
The fear of flying, however, actually consists of several sub- categories of phobia:
The Fear of Take-Off
You can’t imagine how it is possible for something as big as an airplane to fly, and without any idea of era dynamics, you can’t see how it can keep flying.
The Fear of Space
You imagine that even the slightest movement can make the airplane fall from the sky. You rest into your seat and all you can think about is the enormous emptiness around you. In fact you forget that air is actually a kind of fluid, an invisible one, it’s true, but still very much there with its current send movements. You have lost all the familiar references for getting around down on the ground.
The Fear of Turbulence
You are terrified that the wings are going to break off, and keep telling yourself how fragile an airplane is. With every noise you hear you’re persuaded the plane will break up, forgetting that it is designed to be flexible to make it more resistant.
The Fear of Mechanical Breakdown
You listen to every single noise, especially the motors, waiting for the moment the explosion will come. You picture that the engine stop and the plane will drop from the sky like a stone. You don’t realize that airplanes have engines, but especially they have wings which make them glide on the air even if there were no motors.
The Fear of Not Being in Control
You are used to deciding things and cannot stand passively sitting in your seat for hours, with no control over what happens. If you were piloting the plane yourself you would certainly be less fearful.
The Fear of Reliving of Traumatizing Event
A flight with a lot of turbulence or a painful memory linked to flying leave their mark in the brain, along with all the emotions. You feel as though it all happen just yesterday and you are terrified that it could happen again.
The Fear of Claustrophobia
You are terrified at the idea of being closed in, confined with other people with no power to escape. You panic when you see the door to the plane close before takeoff, and you imagine that there won’t be enough air to breathe, not knowing that the air is continually renewed and that relaxation techniques can calm things substantially.
The Fear of Altitude
This is linked to the fear of heights; you’re okay until you reach a certain altitude, and then when you can’t recognize familiar objects on the ground anymore you don’t feel reassured anymore, forgetting that the Earth is really not so far.
The Fear of Anxiety
These are people who live constantly scanning the landscape for danger. You study each tiny movement the steward or stewardess makes and listen to every single noise, unable to sleep, unable to eat unable to do anything except watch for danger. If you experience panic attacks on a regular basis, you can become so afraid of having one that you develop a fear of your own anxiety.
All of these fears can nevertheless be treated with techniques such as hypnosis
All of these fears can nevertheless be treated with techniques such as hypnosis, relaxation techniques mindfulness, self-compassion, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and in some cases even EMDR.
Also, don’t leave treatment for the last minute! A quick hypnosis session the day before your flight is not going to be as effective as taking the time to do a proper evaluation, obtain treatment with one or two sessions of hypnosis, master powerful relaxation techniques for your flight and give yourself the time to practice and reinforce your skills before the big day.