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Fear of Flying, The Cure

Concord_in_flight

Hypnotherapy can make flying a joy!

Do you have a fear of flying? How do you know it's a fear of flying, "well, every time I book a flight or go in an aeroplane, I get this terrible sense of panic or feel very anxious!" That is a typical response I get from clients and it always surprises them when I say it might not actually be anything to do with flying or anything related to aviation come to that!

Some people have flown lots of times, OK they may not love it but they often don't hate it either. After all, it's just one of many modes of transportation, it just happens to be one of the safest! This actually makes the fear of flying rather strange but then, so is travelling at 39,000 feet! People that have flown many times have seldom been involved in an air crash or any other type of aviation anomaly. Mostly it just seems to creep upon them, maybe a consequence of a little too much turbulence or something similarly uncomfortable. The fear though, seems to get worse, flight by flight.

Sometimes what is happening, is an adaptive form of Pavlovian, classical, conditioning. This is often a consequence of there being another type of fear conditioning that has contributed to the development of a nascent anxiety disorder. Severe turbulence or any other type of sensory stimuli on the plane you are on can elicit such a response. However, in the presence of an unconditioned fear stimulus (turbulence), which often occurs outside of conscious awareness, the stage is set for the development of stimulus pairing. This is where one stimulus pairs with another and one takes on all the attributes of the other! During the initial stages of these conflicting stimuli being presented, it can dupe us into believing it is a fear of flying, which logic and common sense then confirm. Now, to be fair, given the number of people who fly every day, this is a rare event but if you if it is you, it happening to, it's rareness is somewhat irrelevant!

Over the years I have seen many clients where the fear of flying has nothing directly to do with flying. And, I have successfully helped many clients overcome this type of non-aviophobia. Not unsurprisingly, during the hypnosis, there is no mention of anything related to aeroplanes, take-offs, landings, turbulence, tin cans or lots of people! However, if yours is a genuine fear of flying, with provable or observable links to aviation, then please read on.

As I said, the fear of flying (aviophobia) is one of the most irrational phobias or fears there is. But the foundation for it is both real and very logical because aeroplanes do crash and for many reasons, e.g. technical problems, weather, pilot error and of course terrorism. It is for these very reasons that it is both impractical and irrational to totally remove all fear because it is a natural and necessary part of our defence system. However, when you think of it, there's no part of life that doesn't contain its risks, if you drive a car and were involved in an accident, chances are it wouldn't put you off driving; even if you were only a passenger! These days we are acutely aware that terrorists are totally indiscriminate in when, where and why they strike and that is quite a frightening prospect. However, it is because of that there is far more effort taken to reduce the threat to aviation from terrorism than to prevent the local idiot driver or radicalized lone wolf causing havoc! Logically speaking we should feel safer flying than any other form of transport but that is logic and fear is based on emotion, not logic and therein lays the rub!

The fear of flying is very illogical and because of that, not as straightforward as it might appear to be. It can be caused by the rational or irrational consequence(s) of a correlated fear? For example, a fear of flying (aviophobia) can be a result of:

  • Fear of death (thanatophobia)
  • Fear of confined spaces (claustrophobia)
  • Fear of being locked in an enclosed space (cleithrophobia)
  • Fear of open spaces (agoraphobia)
  • Fear of clouds (nephophobia)
  • Fear of accidents (dystychiphobia)
  • Perhaps as a result of being in any kind of an accident
  • Knowing someone who has been in a plane accident
  • Flying after a recent plane crash

However, whether it is or is not related to flying, it is a learned fear and what we can learn; we can unlearn. If it is not related to flying, then it's merely a case of a more in-depth type of emotional investigation, which can usually lead us to the causal event(s). The takeaway is, whatever the cause, hypnotherapy can usually provide the solution!

When it comes to resolving the vast array of issues that humans face, hypnosis is very often highly successful because of its ability to access the subconscious brain processes (held in memory) and from there, help to uncover the or an underlying cause of the many life-limiting problems we experience. Of course, it is not possible to say something wouldn't happen in any aspect of life, including during a flight, but when it comes to this particular phobia, you have the knowledge that flying is the safest form of travel and therefore the probability of something happening is extremely unlikely. We successfully use probability almost every day of our life when we make any future based statements, such as:

  • I'll see you later
  • Call you tomorrow
  • I’m going away this weekend
  • I’ll be on holiday next month
  • See you when I get back

Of course, we do not know this to be true but, based on previous experience, we assume it is. To that end the efficient and effective use, during hypnotherapy, of such everyday statements become intertwined with the part of the mind most associated with the fear you have; whatever the underlying cause, be it known or not!

Statistically, cars and motorbikes are far more dangerous yet most people would not give up driving if they were involved in a car or motorbike accident. So, from this, we can reasonably assume the fear of flying to be out of context with the risk or at the very least, irrational fear and rarely based on personal experience.

Put in context, flying is one of the safest and wonderful things that has happened to the human race. It has enabled us to visit places previously not possible (at least within the context of a 2 or 3-week vacation). It is by far the cheapest form of travel (cent's per mile). It enables us to see our beautiful planet from an aspect not possible by any other means. It has expanded the travel industry and employs millions of people worldwide. It has brought wealth and prosperity to countries and nations all over the globe. Yet, it brings down upon those who fear it, the most uncontrollable feelings of fear and abject terror.

Hypnotherapy, available one on one in Singapore, is a natural and safe method of effecting lasting change in a person’s life and it brings about one of the most rewarding benefits of being human.

If you are interested to explore how my hypnotherapy services can help YOU to conquer this and many other fears, then why not call for an informal chat or book a Free Consultation?

Thom Conquered his terrifying fear of flying and now has a Private Pilot’s Licence

Flying in Australia 

Thom, just before flying over Cairns harbour Australia in July 2002.

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