Phobia is where a person is afraid of certain things or situations such as being or speaking in public, snakes, spiders, dogs, clowns, or open spaces. Acrophobia is an informal learning experience of being afraid of heights. This type of phobia belongs to a specific classification of phobias known as space and motion discomfort. Acrophobia can be dangerous, as victims can suffer an anxiety attack in a high place and become too anxious to get down cautiously. I suffer from a severe degree of acrophobia that prevents me from renting an apartment on any floor other than the ground floor. When I did live on the second floor of an apartment complex, I had to keep my window blinds closed causing my claustrophobia to kick in, which in turn, caused a severe anxiety attack. People with acrophobia may also experience other phobias or types of anxiety. I suffer from several phobias like being in public, spiders, closed spaces, and heights but was also diagnosed with bipolar II, PTSD, and anxiety disorder.
Acrophobia can have a negative effect on a person’s life by restricting their job possibilities or where to go for vacation and one’s regular day-to-day situations such as changing a light bulb in a ceiling fan or hanging new window curtains. One might ask, how could someone become afraid of heights? Some psychologists debate the cause of phobias claiming that they are instigated by early traumatic experiences. Fear in itself is an emotion known as anxiety that is produced by the brain when there is the presence of danger or to keep us away from a possible dangerous situation. In relation to acrophobia, these experiences might consist of a person that has suffered from falling from a high place or has seen someone else get hurt from falling from a high place. The main word in the definition is “irrational.” Being afraid of falling off a high mountain top is rational, also known as an unconditional stimulus. Using caution when looking over a bridge railing is sensible, also known as an unconditioned response. If you have fallen from a high place, it is normal to have a recovery time where your fear of heights is intensified; an extremely long time may be a sign of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder rather than a phobia.
The fear of heights become a phobia when a person is afraid to climb the stairs with railing to the second floor of a building or becomes nauseous by a movie scene looking at the ground from a building top or a plane. Acrophobia could also be caused by modeling. I suffer from being afraid of heights; it is not uncommon that my son and daughter are also afraid of heights. Acrophobia is so common that it may be a factor of genetics. Recent studies have shown that a particular amount of hesitancy around heights is a natural feeling found in animals and human beings. Heights are a rational hazard for people to be afraid of, and maybe fear of heights help people refrain themselves from taking unnecessary risks. Most people suffer from acrophobia to some degree even if it is only the feeling of discomfort when standing at a very high ledge.
In 1960, famous research psychologists Gibson and Walk did a “Visual Cliff” experimentation which exhibited human infants and toddlers, along with other animals of different ages, to be hesitant in venturing onto a glass floor with a view of a few meters of obvious empty space below it. Even though the infant’s mothers were there for encouragement, the children did not seem convinced that it was safe. For that reason, acrophobia seems to be somewhat imbedded as a survival method (Phobia Fears, 2010). On the other hand, not all people suffer from acrophobia, which challenges the contention that fear of heights is genetically encoded into humans. If you have stress or anxiety or some life change issue, you may suffer a panic attack at height. If so, the height may become the hook for your anxiety. Then you fear another attack so a fear of heights occurs. Hypnotherapy can break the fear-panic-fear link through relearning that experience and finding a hook or link to relaxation instead of anxiety. Such cyclical thought patterns can be broken quite easily.
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