Are you afraid of flying? If you’re thinking of getting your phobia ‘cured’ with a hard-and-fast miracle solution, you might have to think again, as Nicolás Fox discovers…
One in six of us suffers from a fear of flying (or aviophobia) in the UK – myself included.
Yes, I’d heard the safety statistics. And yes, I knew I was dicing with death driving to the airport, compared with how safe I was strapped-in on the plane.
But then take-off begins. Then the strangulating anxieties kick-in. Something had to be done.
Can miracle ‘cures’ work?
One quick Google search later, and I was faced with 11.1 million results. Within seconds I was being offered medication, self-help courses, online videos, books, DVDs, self-hypnosis, day courses.
Promises included ‘a cure in 18 minutes’, ‘freedom from your anxiety’, ‘immediate help’ and in one case, a claim that ‘the problem will vanish within a few minutes’. It all sounded so promising.
Then I spoke with the NHS who told me: ‘Whatever support you obtain in overcoming phobias, you must accept that there is no miracle cure that will simply take it away.’ Oh.
Other ways of overcoming fears
Now what? I didn’t fancy a psychiatric MOT and lengthy psychotherapy sessions. So I steeled myself, parted with £200 and booked a place on a fear of flying day-course.
A few days later, inside an anonymous business hotel on the outskirts of Bournemouth, my name-tag was being slapped on my chest. Embarrassed strangers clustered together.
Polite, yet tense patter ensued as the biscuit table was sized up. Then, all too soon, the ‘inspiration room’ was opened and we were perkily reassured that we’d ‘love flying’ by the end of the day. My inner sceptic raised an eyebrow.
But by the end of the day, short of loving flying, many of us were better equipped to cope with our fears. I’m not saying the day course was a success for everyone – it wasn’t. But it did help most of the group. Me included.
I wasn’t ‘cured’ per se, but definitely felt it was worth the money. Still, you won’t catch me rushing for a window seat anytime soon.