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Home > Fear of Flying > I missed out a lot in life due to my fear of flying…
I missed out a lot in life due to my fear of flying…
Flying - Fear of Flying
Saturday, 19 November 2011 20:41

In Flight Explanation Part 1
Dear Capt Lim,

I had a traumatic experience on a Space Mountain ride 6 years ago. The trauma has manifested into many kinds of phobias including taking the lift and MRT by myself and a fear of flying. 5 years ago when I took a flight to Melbourne, my palms started to get sweaty and my heart beat quickened when the doors were shut. I had this fear that I wanted to get out of the plane but I couldn't. Since then, I had not taken another flight and I am literally grounded.

I feel very sad as there are many places which I want to explore with my children. They long to travel with me. My 87-year old father is still waiting for the day when I can travel with him to Kuching. I also feel very depressed every Christmas when all my friends and colleagues travel with their families. I miss out a lot in life.

I requested my psychologist to accompany me on a short trip to KL to help me regain my confidence in flying but she was reluctant.



Dear Linda,

Your problem is not unusual as I have answered many similar questions that I may have to repeat what I have written for your sake. Kindly read more about fear of flying here.

Something more philosophical - Everything we do in life involves some level of risk. Walking across the street, driving to the supermarket, taking a shower at home — the list goes on. No doubt there is a small risk involved in flying but I reminded them that air travel is one of the safest modes of transport, which is why I am more fearful driving to work. The best way to have a comfortable flight is to think positive thoughts.

According to a professor in psychiatry at the Emory University School of Medicine, Barbara Rothbaum, states that,

“Millions of people fly safely every day, and yet those who fear flying look at something like an accident as confirmation of their phobia. In fact, all phobias, including weather phobia and fear of heights, involve strong, irrational fears. When they get off of an airplane, it looks like they want to kiss the ground, like they just narrowly escaped losing their life.”

Another clinical psychologist Selina Ding commented,

“Aviophobia suffers from debilitating panic attacks each time he or she is scrunched up in a plane. Their anxiety worsens when they realise they have no control over the situation.”

Treatment for flight fears is available and successful. While there are no known local organisations that offer courses to help you to conquer your fear, international carriers like Virgin Atlantic, Qantas and British Airways run their own clinics. These courses often culminate with a real flight.

“It’s called systematic desensitisation,” says clinical psychologist, Selina. “By gradually exposing participants to their fear, they would learn to evaluate their situation logically rather than emotionally. Its success really depends on the participant and how willing he or she wants to overcome the fear.”

Qantas’ programme offers its participants an opportunity to learn about aviation from the professionals — pilots, air traffic controllers, aircraft engineers, meteorologists.

Not only will they be able to tour aviation facilities not open to the public, they will also have a psychologist at hand to help them analyse their fear and teach them how to cope.

“Of course, such courses take a while. In the meantime, nervous flyers should cultivate relaxation methods such as breathing techniques and undergo counselling. Remember, you mind is your greatest enemy.”

As a refresher, kindly view the two associated videos here to make your flying more confortable again! You need not have a psychologist to accompany you for your future flights if you are equipped with the knowledge that flying is safe.
Your father will be very happy if you can accompany him to Kuching!

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim

In Flight Explanation Part 2


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