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Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

How does exposure to height alleviate acrophobia?

Asked by Aesthetic_Mess (7863 points ) March 23rd, 2011
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

8 Answers

Dr_Dredd's avatar

It probably works by desensitization—the more you are exposed, the less nervous you’ll feel. (In theory, at least.)

deni's avatar

Just like anything else. If you’re afraid of something, once you are exposed to the pinnacle of whatever that thing is, you realize that you can survive, it is not the worst thing in the world, and you should stop being so terrified of it. Or at least that’s how its supposed to work. My biggest fear, caterpillars, if someone submerged me in a tank of them, I think I would stop breathing so. Maybe to each his own on this one.

dubsrayboo's avatar

My husband is very afraid of heights. No matter what we’ve done he has remained that way. At least on mountain roads he pretends to read instead of freaking out. He avoids every place above a certain height. So no, desensitization does not work and I don’t think you will ever alleviate any fear. They just learn to cope with it better.

Taciturnu's avatar

@dubsrayboo Systematic desensitization has been shown to be effective in studies. The thing is, people vary too much for there to be one answer to every problem. It may be something that would never work for your husband, but would work wonders for your Aunt Jeanne.

dubsrayboo's avatar

@Taciturnu That’s a good point. I was generalizing I guess. Thanks.

JLeslie's avatar

Little steps. People who are phobic, as they take little steps to expose themselves to the very thing they are phobic of, and see nothing terrible happens, they begin to overcome their fear of it. They become more reality based than the unrealistic fear they have created in their mind about the particular object or thing.

JLeslie's avatar

@dubsrayboo I would say coping counts. Most people have some irrational fears of some sort, but push through and don’t let it paralize them. They fake it, or push obsessive thoughts to the back of their head, or rationalize that logically they should not be so fearful. I guess maybe that is the difference between a little bit of fear, and paralizing phobias?

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