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steve1

Does Skydiving Attract Many Who Are in Need of Mental Health Services

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We've probably all been told you have to be crazy to skydive. I'm not saying you have to be nuts to be in this sport, but it seems that skydiving does attract some dysfunctional people at times. This isn't always bad either. I think it gives people a way to deal with something as awful as depression. What do you think?....Steve1

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I've only been skydiving a short time (7 years) and a therapist even shorter, but I typically don't see people at the DZ who I would assess as having a mental illness during my first impression of them.

As far as regular skydivers? Well, we have our share of narcissists & chemically dependent people. :P:)

steveOrino

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I've only been skydiving a short time (7 years) and a therapist even shorter, but I typically don't see people at the DZ who I would assess as having a mental illness during my first impression of them.

As far as regular skydivers? Well, we have our share of narcissists & chemically dependent people. :P:)



No more than any other activity I would bet.

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I would say skydiving attracts thrill junkies. I am a thrill junkie. I have only been on one tandem dive but I am getting ready to start AFF courses. Skydiving is a great escape from the 9-5 grind and the daily grind.
The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

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I think it gives people a way to deal with something as awful as depression. What do you think?....Steve1



Say. . .helps with mild PTSD?
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I think it gives people a way to deal with something as awful as depression. What do you think?....Steve1



Say. . .helps with mild PTSD?



Right. Severe PTSD calls for buying a gun.
...

The only sure way to survive a canopy collision is not to have one.

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I've only been skydiving a short time (7 years) and a therapist even shorter, but I typically don't see people at the DZ who I would assess as having a mental illness during my first impression of them.

As far as regular skydivers? Well, we have our share of narcissists & chemically dependent people. :P:)



No more than any other activity I would bet.



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You're probably right. I did a research paper for my Masters on the personality traits of licensed skydivers. One "starnge" thing that came up is, while most skydivers had a very strong sense of self effacacy, instructors tend to have less.

While I did not research further for the conclusion of that data I believe it is because Instructors have seen more things go wrong.


steveOrino

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I've known of three different skydivers who have committed suicide over the past few years and it has me thinking. I've talked to a lot of skydivers on these forums who have a history of depression and other mental issues. It just seems to point in the direction, that maybe our sport does attract and even help many suffering from mental illness. Again there are a ton of skydivers who are perfectly normal .

I work as a counselor and maybe I'm just on guard for this sort of thing more than the average person.

I once rode the rodeo circuit. I often saw the same type of person there. I mean it takes a certain type of person to risk it all on the back of a bronc or a bull. Some may have just been thrill seekers. But there were those who didn't really care much if something really bad happened. The violence of the arena was a way to escape other problems that may have been bothering them.

Many also developed chemical dependency issues later in life.

I've heard this discussed a time or two and dismissed it as possibly true, but I didn't want to admit there might be something wrong with me.

I also worked in the woods as a timber faller. Here too you found some truly dysfunctional people. The hard work, danger, and excitement were again a way to escape what was really bothering you.

These are just some of my conclusions. Maybe I'm way off, but there seems to be some patterns here. This would make a great research topic.....Steve1

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Caertainly those who have a borderline personality disorder can find themselves in skydiving as they tend to be attracted to "dangerous" activities.


..............................................................
I work with a lot of teenagers who will someday be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. For many their escape is in cutting....Steve1

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While most of us can name a few exceptions, those who truly need substantial mental health intervention don't make it far in skydiving. By far, I mean hundreds of jumps and years. Pragmatically, there are easier and cheaper ways to do harm to oneself.

In short, no, I don't think skydiving attracts a disproportionately high amount of those needing mental health intervention.

VR/Marg

Act as if everything you do matters, while laughing at yourself for thinking anything you do matters.
Tibetan Buddhist saying

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I would say skydiving attracts thrill junkies. I am a thrill junkie.



Thrill junkies last about a half year if that. I'd put them in a different category than skydivers that do it for the sport rather than the stunt.

...
Driving is a one dimensional activity - a monkey can do it - being proud of your driving abilities is like being proud of being able to put on pants

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I have always viewed skydiving as a mental health service. :)
FallRate


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I agree! Unless a person has a death wish in the back of their head. For some doing at risk things is a way to reach that goal. It may even be unconscious, yet it is pushing them in that direction. I work with many young people who are dead before they reach 20 years old. Most of it probably stems from attachment disorder.....Steve1

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It has been suggested that Low MAO levels (Monoamine Oxidase) are the reason why people desire to skydive or at least continue to skydive. These Low levels have also been associated with anti-social behavior, substance abuse, and violent crime.

Low MAO has been labeled as a disorder, however entreprenuers, creative artists, and even heroic people have also been known to have Low MAO. I believe this "disorder" is essential to society. It causes people to take risks that ultimately allow society to advance.

There is obviously a vast difference in personalities among people that have Low MAO. This is probably due to an individuals enviornment and personal experiences dictating how they will respond to this disorder. However, I believe that once a person understands the physiological and phycological events that are taking place in their body and mind, they are able to decide how they will react to this disorder. They can choose to be the responsible entrepreneurial skydiver, the drunk skydiver that can hold a job, or the anti-social murderer etc...
Your secrets are the true reflection of who you really are...

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I've read that low MAO levels are often found in skydivers. That is an interesting topic.

I know many who grow up in dysfunctional homes are extremely good at stuffing their feelings. They learned from the time they were little how to do that to survive the crazyness in their home. After a while they can't even feel the good things in life very well. The same may be true of anyone suffering from PTSD.

Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane may be one way to bring one out of this state of non-feeling. Steve mentioned borderline personality. Many of those people have a hard time feeling much of anything unless it goes to an extreme.

I've looked at some studies that suggest that one reason many are drawn to dangerous activities is that it recreates a higher state of arrousal, similiar to their family of origin. Think of a little kid growing up in a state of fear. As wierd as it may sound, many recreate that same environment later in life. It may be in their own dysfunctional home. Or it may even be in doing something dangerous. That high state of arrousal, that many adrenaline junkies crave, may be similiar to the home they came out of. In other words it is what they are used to. Life seems dull and boring without it.

It was mentioned earlier that many skydivers who suffer from mental illness may not last long in our sport. That may be true. One reason may be because it is such a social atmosphere in skydiving. You are with people constantly, sometimes even crammed in the back of a plane. Many people suffering from mental illness may not be able to deal with that very well. Many are loners. They don't trust other people much. Even depressed people tend to isolate themselves.

But not all tend to isolate themselves. Many bi-polar people I know, tend to like being in the midst of all kinds of people and turmoil when they are in a manic state.

Correct me if I am off on any of this. These are just some of my observations on this subject.....Steve1

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I would say skydiving attracts thrill junkies. I am a thrill junkie.



Thrill junkies last about a half year if that. I'd put them in a different category than skydivers that do it for the sport rather than the stunt.



Just a brief aside. I think I was in my 3rd or 4th year. Was just trying to be friendly and was chatting with a group of students. One openly admitted he took it up because he figured it would make a great opening line for meeting women. Yowza! What a bonehead. He only made a couple jumps and then I never saw him again. Must not work.
" . . . the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience." -- Aldous Huxley

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Your last comment interested me. A recreation of the 'fear' or mental arousal levels from an unhappy household as a child.

But why try and recreate unhappy events? Has the subconcsious wired itself in such a way it can't differentiate between unhappy times a mental state it feels necessary to recreate?

It's certainly interesting. I don't know many civilian skydivers - all mine was done under a military context. But there were many who absolutley loved it, whilst many others who hated it. Despite this, they might be perfectly happy grappling up a rock face at night, in the rain. In my experience I found the more extroverted personality's loved the freefall, and the introverts preferred the mountain side of things.

Why would this be? The civvy skydivers I do know are generally an extroverted bunch too.

What I find especially interesting is how individual tastes may change in regards to such activities as the individual matures and develops. In general, I've found most guys, being married and having kids, pursue more 'safer' pastimes, yet there is still a fairly significant amount who remain completely 'mad for it,' and go perhaps a stage further and do the odd basejump here or there.

Essentially I don't think there is a specific bracket you can put onto people in regards to all this. Numerous brackets yes, but nothing quite as specific as that we're all mentally disturbed.

Everyone knows we're all mentally disturbed; to varying extents, no matter what jobs or activities we pursue.:)

'for it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "chuck 'im out, the brute!" But it's "saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot.'

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Your last comment interested me. A recreation of the 'fear' or mental arousal levels from an unhappy household as a child.

But why try and recreate unhappy events? Has the subconcsious wired itself in such a way it can't differentiate between unhappy times a mental state it feels necessary to recreate?
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It's strange, but often true. Dysfunction often goes from one generation to the next. It's often the only parenting style we know, and we tend to recreate it, but not always. Many people who were abused as a child could never abuse their own kids. Yet, many do. They were taught that at a young age and they perpetrate it on their own kids.

We all have behaviors and thoughts that might fit a Mental Diagnosis. It usually doesn't mean much, unless it starts affecting your life in a real negative way. For example we may all be a little paranoid at times. We all get angry. Etc. It's when all this starts getting out of balance when there may be a problem.....

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Someone asked...Who decides when a person needs mental health services, then they deleted their post, so my answer didn't go through.

This is a good question. Usually it is that person who is suffering through life, who realizes his coping strategies aren't working very well anymore.

For me it was when I was in my forties. It was getting way to hard to stuff my feelings, and to pretend everything was fine. The anger and depression was beginning to affect my family in a real negative way. I began searching for a counselor. Today I am one.

The bad part that goes along with this, is that many don't have much understanding of mental illness. There is a stigma that many attach to people who ask for help and receive mental health services. Particularly males have trouble understanding this. We are trained from birth to be rough and tough and not show weakness. Asking for help is not the "macho" way to handle things...."Right?"

I tried that for almost 40 years. The fact is it doesn't work well at all, and it also prevents many from seeking the help they need.

I know of a man who is no longer with us. It sounds like he killed himself. He used to post on these forums on a regular basis. It makes me sick to think of his death. He left behind two little daughters. I had a ton of respect for this guy.

I don't know many details. Maybe he had sought out mental health services, but I'll bet not. A counselor or medication won't save everyone. But the fact remains that suicide is often a very preventable thing.

The stigma attached to mental health services often prevents a person from seeking out the help they need. I hope that changes one day.....Steve1

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