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What Causes The Fear of Flying?

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 18 Apr 2018 | comments*Discuss
Aerophobia; Flying; Fear; Anxiety; Past

Many people are wary of flying and find it uncomfortable especially in today’s society of terrorist activity and heightened security alerts, for others however their fear escalates to become a condition called aerophobia and each sufferer will have their own reasons for this disorder developing. These reasons may be very apparent in the conscious mind, hidden in the sub-conscious or due to inexplicable reasons.

The following can offer some explanations as to why these phobias develop.

Past Experiences
Previous negative experiences can be very influential over peoples overall and general perception of flying. An episode of turbulence can cause uneasiness and travel sickness that will cause the individual to develop an unnecessary fear of repeating the experience.

For those who have had to make emergency landings or have actually had an accident or incident whilst flying, an overall sense of doom can ensue with every consequential flight taken or planned despite the probability of the experience recurring being extremely low.

Past experiences may be those of someone else who has described their encounter and passed their fear onto others. Memory can recall and distort images and actual occurrences, particularly as time passes.

Past experiences may cause the phobia due to one singular event or an accumulation of smaller events that are escalated and distorted in the person’s mind.

The Media
News coverage of disasters and accidents may be the cause of someone’s fear of flying. The images shown on both television and in newspapers are often very graphic and coupled with direct witness statements or detailed accounts given by those involved. These can cause an already nervous traveller to experience increased anxiety and tension which can develop into a phobia.

Films and documentaries may have the same effect, when the extremes of flying are visualised, and even though the likelihood of any of these events is very small, these images can be replayed or recalled at any time when air travel is mentioned causing distress to the sufferer. A vivid imagination will warp the images banked in the memory and can cause unnecessary worry and anguish in that person.

Learned Behaviours
Children are more likely to develop a phobia of flying if either of their parents/ carers are sufferers of aerophobia. This is particularly true if the sufferer openly displays their fear and permits the child to witness their anxiety or panic attacks. The child will grow up to think that air travel is something to be afraid of and will carry on the characteristics themselves from learned behaviour.

Issues Surrounding the Fear
Most fears and anxieties are caused by a lack of control, lack of understanding or knowledge about flying or because of some of the more unpleasant experiences that sometimes occur in flight but are actually quite normal. Episodes of turbulence or having to perform an unplanned landing are quite regular happenings but can cause a nervous traveller to worry excessively raising anxiety and stress levels. These can result in a panic attack or will influence their future perceptions of flying.There are many reasons as to why a person may develop aerophobia, each person’s reason being individual to them. Sometimes only therapy can unveil and tackle the issues allowing the person to confront and address the issues in a controlled environment that permits healing in a gentle and approved manner.

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My 13 year old daughter is now so afraid of flying that we were unable to go on our last holiday in March.We arrived at the airport and she was unable to get out of the car due to her increasing fear and panic attacks.Her anxiety normally begins the night before, and when we wake her up on the day of travelling she is crying, shaking, hyperventilating, vomiting, it is very stressful and upsetting for everyone.We have flown many times since she was a baby but the fear is so bad now that we cannot travel abroad.She really wants to address her fear and be able to fly abroad without experiencing this anxiety.Her GP was unable to offer any help.I am paying for her to have hypnotherapy sessions at the moment which she is happy to do.We are not sure if it will work or not?If this doesn't work then I don't know what else to do.We are booked to fly to Italy in July and I am contemplating cancelling our holiday as I don't know if she will be able to face her fear and we cannot risk losing all our money again due to a last minute cancellation.
Kirsty - 18-Apr-18 @ 11:41 AM
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