0
Icemann

Does skydiving cure selective acrophobia? And what kind of acrophobia is this??

Recommended Posts

I swear I was born without a hint of acrophobia. I could stand on the high walls, go cliff jumping, even ride horses just by the cliff edge in the Rocky mountains... but don't know since when did I develop this seemingly subtle fear of heights, and it gradually became worse. Now even just standing on a tall platform will trigger my mind into imagining myself jumping down and splash*. The worst part is that I get panic attacks every time when looking at those giant posters hanging down from the mall ceilings, 50 ft off the ground. I would force myself (involuntarily) into the position of the posters, just thinking about how scary it must be to be hung that high up. However, this fear only applies to indoor environments, or any man-made structures regardless of its location. Though weirdly I'm totally fine with planes, edge of cliffs, or even riding on helicopters with my legs dangling out.
To me, skydiving seems like the only way out. Once you get past that initial jump everything would start to go away. It would probably help to get me into a bit more advanced mountaineering in the future.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Your fears are normal and healthy ..... just late in maturing.
Hah!
Hah!

As we mature, our fears refine.
Most children are born with a fear of falling, but if you succeed in climbing too many trees, then your fear of falling diminishes. That teaches "young man arrogance." That is why teenagers make such good paratroopers.
For example, well into my fifties, I climbed way more trees than guys half my age. And I enjoyed teasing them.

OTOH cliffs and exposed balconies scare me.
On the one hand, my inner BASE jumper says "you could jump this!" While my inner mathematician says "it's only 15 stories and too close to a telephone wire."


I never was never very good at math.
Hah!
Hah!

Funny how looking out of an airplane does not scare me in the same way. Mind you I am a private pilot, (retired) jump pilot, (retired) military helicopter mechanic, and skydiver with a few thousand jumps. When I look out an airplane window, I just see a giant moving map a long way away.
Perhaps this is because the maximum height of fear (as taught at the Canadian Army jump school) is 33 feet (10 metres). I believe that is because at long distances, we measure distance by size. Only during the last 33 feet does our binocular vision come into play. At short distances, we measure distance by the different angles between our eyeballs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
riggerrob

Perhaps this is because the maximum height of fear (as taught at the Canadian Army jump school) is 33 feet (10 metres). I believe that is because at long distances, we measure distance by size. Only during the last 33 feet does our binocular vision come into play. At short distances, we measure distance by the different angles between our eyeballs.



I'm convinced that this effect has something to do with why modern day AFF and tandem jumping is less scary to the new jumpers, then old-fashioned static line. In a static line from 2,000', the ground looked really close, and death seemed imminent. But from 13,000', the earth is far more remote, and you can't even see people on the ground, nor even individual trees. I think this remoteness makes the brain intuitively realize that more time is available to deal with freefall. And thus, less fear.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes John Crawford.

After I had a hundred civilian skydives from 3,000 to 10,000 feet, I attended military jump school. For my second military static-line jump, I was first in the door. As we flew towards the DZ at 1,000 feet AGL, I remember saying to myself "Jesus that barn is big!"
Hah!
Hah!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm very afraid of heights. I cannot stand on the edge of drop off, like a roof (even the second story) or cliff w/o getting severe vertigo, yet I have never been afraid of heights in an airplane. My first jump was my first airplane ride.

I attribute this to the fact that there is nothing connecting you to the ground visually in a plane (or free fall or under canopy), as opposed to looking over a precipice. A different set of survival mechanisms perhaps in one's brain?

I can, and have come really close to the edge of buildings and cliffs (I hate letting fear rule too much) and all the vertigo makes me want to do is jump. Weird dichotomy. I can see the attraction of base jumping, but it makes no sense. It's not like I'm willing or able to jump of it. It's more like that's the inevitable outcome.
lisa
WSCR 594
FB 1023
CBDB 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm the same as some other posters, I'm really afraid of heights, ladders, hotel balconies, etc etc. But never and any issues with airplanes or helicopters (even before I started jumping).

The only common denominator I've found that seems to work on what scares me is whether or not I'm touching something that is touching the ground.

Paragliding gives me a little tummy tingle but in a good way. Skydiving nothing at all acrophobia related, although I do get a little scared on every jump (and am at 500+ and counting) but more because "this shit is dangerous" rather than "fear of heights."

Planes and helis are both non-fear inducing, but if I'm standing on something or attached to something, whew, scary. My gf loves to give me shit about how scared I get on roller coasters.

The "urge to jump" at cliff edges and bridges is well documented but I have no idea if anyone knows why.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have always theorized that we have an evolutionary survival mechanism of being scared of heights that would have killed our ancestors.So while cliffs and trees are all things that would have been a risk to early humans, but being at 13,000 feet in a flying machine would not have been.

I have no formal studies or education in this sort of thing to back up the claim, but I like the way it packages up the differences.
"The restraining order says you're only allowed to touch me in freefall"
=P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Icemann

I swear I was born without a hint of acrophobia. I could stand on the high walls, go cliff jumping, even ride horses just by the cliff edge in the Rocky mountains... but don't know since when did I develop this seemingly subtle fear of heights, and it gradually became worse. Now even just standing on a tall platform will trigger my mind into imagining myself jumping down and splash*. The worst part is that I get panic attacks every time when looking at those giant posters hanging down from the mall ceilings, 50 ft off the ground. I would force myself (involuntarily) into the position of the posters, just thinking about how scary it must be to be hung that high up. However, this fear only applies to indoor environments, or any man-made structures regardless of its location. Though weirdly I'm totally fine with planes, edge of cliffs, or even riding on helicopters with my legs dangling out.
To me, skydiving seems like the only way out. Once you get past that initial jump everything would start to go away. It would probably help to get me into a bit more advanced mountaineering in the future.



Sounds like my story. I teach High Angle Rope Rescue to the Military and I am always hanging from a rope. One day while working on a repel tower, I started visualizing and focusing on all the negative things that could go wrong and put my self into a full blown panic attack. I have logged 1000's of hours working on ropes at that point and was so surprised it happen to me. It's not a bad thing and in small doses it keeps us vigilant and always thinking critically, but the second it starts to hinder your performance or decision making process it is now a big problem. For me personally, focusing on the positives and realizing why I decided to take the risk whether for fun, to help someone or just for a new experience helps me push forward and relax. I don't like the extremist attitude that you should never think about the negative stuff - I think everyone should find their own medium of both. For me knowing the gear inside and out helps with the anxiety because I start to trust it more.
Skydiving did not help me. If I learned any life skill from skydiving it would be that I really honed my visualization. and that can be good or bad depending what I am focusing on. That poor girl who fell out of the harness this summer (or Mrs Mitchell's story of hanging from a harness) can immediately increase my heart rate and respirations in seconds if I choose to visualize it and place myself in that scenario.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anachronist


The only common denominator I've found that seems to work on what scares me is whether or not I'm touching something that is touching the ground.



Someone must have researched this stuff but what you say seems to be a factor.

When someone has to balance near the edge of something, the yawning chasm and lack of normal ground reference points nearby seems to make vertigo more likely. But when we are supported "securely" in a parachute or paragliding harness, there tends not to be such a fear of heights. That seems to work whether the ground is 10,000' away or 300'. It isn't as if tandem or solo students get antsy close to the ground. (Other than really close, when the increased sense of motion can be offputting -- but that's more about speed & feelings of control & potentially crashing into things rather than traditional vertigo.)

The point made earlier by others about jumping from a plane for AFF vs. static line may still hold -- the remoteness of any ground references may indeed make the AFF jump less scary. That is a sort of 'fear of falling' thing but I'm not sure it qualifies as classic vertigo though.

I would want to test someone who is scared of heights near the edge of a cliff or high building, and restrain them in a securely fixed easy chair or hanging harness. Maybe that would remove the vertigo aspect, the feeling of not being balanced at the edge of something, as there is no need to balance. Some other part of general fear of heights might still exist though, but the overall level of discomfort should go down.

Anyway, I kind of think there are different aspects to the fear of heights and it is interesting to figure out where the causes lie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I had fear of heights from when I have memory, couldn't even stand near the edge of a 5 meter fall without having a deep fear falling to death.
But for reasons hard to explain I made my first AFF jump and got even more scared, but as it seems I enjoy suffering, I kept jumping and got my A license, and "cured" my fear of heights by repetition.
It took me 50 jumps to get my head out of the plane door without thinking "why I do this to me?", but eventually the fear comes slowly again on long non-jumping seasons
Anyway, I make my living building industrial plants and I have to remember myself that if I fall from a non-railed platform I will die, so being fearless isn't that healthy either...

Edit: My first jump was also the first time on a plane

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
otte845

........ I made my first AFF jump and got even more scared, but as it seems I enjoy suffering, I kept jumping and got my A license, and "cured" my fear of heights by repetition. ..........
....... but eventually the fear comes slowly again on long non-jumping seasons ........



------------------------------------------------------------------------

You scared yourself because you knew you were at risk of breaking bones. Then your glands secreted a series of "feel good" neuro-chemicals like adrenaline and endorphins. Those new chemicals anesthetize you against pain while the adrenaline might help you escape danger.
After repeated exposure, your brain got better and better at secreting "feel good" endorphins, while your fear diminished.

Anxiety after a long period of non-jumping means that your brain has developed a craving for "feel good" endorphins.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

0