Aviophobia: the fear of flying

Published: February 14, 2021

Aviophobia find its roots from other phobias including fears of crowds, heights and enclosed spaces. Famous psychologist R. Reid Wilson once said: “People frighten themselves by thinking of the possibility of a problem during a flight. Instead, they must learn to think of the probability of a problem, which is extremely low”.

Celebrities who claim to suffer from aviophobia include Jennifer Aniston, Whoopi Goldberg, Cher, Kirsten Dunst, Sarah Jessica Parker, Muhammad Ali, Billy Bob Thornton and Woody Allen.

Woody Allen, however, takes it to another level. The director and producer is known as the celebrity with most phobias that also reportedly include sunshine, dogs, children, heights, crowds, small rooms, deer, bright colors and more.

Jennifer Anniston is afraid of heights and flying. The Insider quotes the star as saying: “We became caught up in an electrical storm. And the Toronto to New York flight took two hours, which was twice the usual time,”

“Every time we flew over a field I hoped the pilot would decide to land, but he didn’t. What really scares me is the take-off. I’ve heard all about the aerodynamics, the speed, the engine — but I still get nervous”.

The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, also had a deep rooted fear of flying along with other phobias like of dogs, ghosts and interestingly, getting fat.

Making other people laugh might look easy but renowned actor and comedian Whoopi Goldberg has had a tough time with aviophobia. She did not plan any air travel for almost a decade but now she has overcome this fear with therapies like Thought Field Therapy and Emotional Freedom Technique.

Billy Bob Thornton once revealed about his fear of flying in an interview. Notforpublicconsumption.com quotes the actor as saying: “I quit flying years ago. I don’t want to die with tourists.”

Celebrities who are plagued by their phobias include Justin TimberlakeChristina RicciWoody Allen and Billy Bob Thornton.

Image: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1192080

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Published February 14, 2021 by in Health Conditions
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2 Responses to “Aviophobia: the fear of flying”

  1. Capt Tom Bunn LCSW

    15. Feb, 2010

    Reid has a point. He is one of the few people in the U.S. who is savvy about treating fear of flying. But the quote used here doesn’t hit the core of the problem.

    We are born with half of the emotion regulation system in place, the half that revs us up. The half that calms us down does not exist at birth. By eighteen months a part of the brain develops that can let the child calm itself. The child memorizes the steps caregivers use to provide calming. If the steps are highly effective, the child can calm itself independently using the steps memorized.

    Obviously, caregivers – regardless of how much they care – vary in their ability to tune in the child and assure the child effectively. As a result, few of us get an optimal ability to calm ourselves.

    During teenage years, we tend to think bad things only happen to others. This youthful optimism gets us by for a few years without excessive anxiety. But as we mature, we realize something can happen to us. We then turn to strategies to keep anxiety when dealing with uncertainty under control. The strategies typically involve control and escape.

    Control: when control of anxiety is not naturally available, we depend on control of situations to avoid anxiety. When driving a car, we believe we can make everything work out alright. Though driving is not as safe as flying, we feel safer because the wheel is in our own, not someone elses, hands.

    Escape: if there is a car accident, there may be a chance of surviving. If a plane, people mistakenly believe that if something goes wrong they are doomed. In a plane, if something goes wrong, backup systems are used. Backup systems make flying safer than driving. But these systems are in the cockpit where they seem theoretical. Though backup systems provide greater safety in a plane than is available in a car, the systems are not as real to a passenger as a steering wheel is in the hands of a driver.

    Since the backup systems are not concrete enough to make passengers feel safe, many try to escape psychologically by keeping their thoughts elsewhere throughout the flight. If, due to turbulence, the person cannot keep the flight out of mind, there is no way to keep feelings under control.

    I need you to understand that the feelings you are troubled by are caused by stress hormones, mainly adrenalin and cortisol. They rev you up. When you get several “hits” of these stress hormones – caused by several thoughts, worries, concerns, etc. - you get claustrophobia, high anxiety or even panic.

    We prevent the release of adrenalin and cortisol by causing the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin shuts down the amygdala, the part of the brain that triggers the release of the hormones that cause fear.

    We cause the release of oxytocin by linking each thing that happens on a flight, and each thing you worry about, to the memory of a moment that causes oxytocin to be released. Once the links are established between an oxytocin-producing moment and troublesome moments of flight, high anxiety and panic are automatically controlled. This is an advanced way of controlling the feelings, and it was not possible to do this until research using brain scan technology showed us how the brain works.

    If interested in knowing more, see my video on fear of flying at http://www.fearofflying.com/store/free-video.shtml

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  2. health forum

    12. Jul, 2010

    thanks for the blog post Aviophobia: the fear of flying - Health Conditions - Celebrities … keep up the good work.

    Reply to this comment

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