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Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Acrophobia

According to this Wikipedia entry...
Acrophobia or altophobia is a fear of heights.

People who suffer from acrophobia can often become habituated to particular high places, i.e. they lose their fear of them, but the fear returns when they go somewhere new. A surprising number of rock-climbers suffer intermittent acrophobia.

Acrophobia can be dangerous, because sufferers can experience a panic attack in a high place and be unable to get themselves out of it. Some acrophobics also suffer from urges to throw themselves off high places, despite not being suicidal.

Curiously, there is no correlation between fear of flying and acrophobia. The difference seems to be that when flying, there is no visual connection between the aircraft and the ground beneath: fearless and successful pilots who are acrophobic have reported that their fear suddenly emerges if such a connection is made, e.g. by flying near a cliff or a tall building.

Acrophobia is a specific-object phobia and like most such phobias is relatively easily addressed by behaviour therapies such as systematic desensitization or flooding. It is probable that acrophobic rock-climbers have in effect undergone a successful self-administered course of such behaviour therapy.
Now, as some of you know, and conversely, as a shock to some of you, I suffer from acrophobia, the fear of heights.

Kind of. You know, it's weird. My first bout of dealing with said fear came when I was but a five year old lad, and my parents, and grandparents, Dad's side, took me to Niagara Falls, whereby, after my Mom's utter horror at the $2.00 it cost to park by the falls (I really shouldn't tell her how much it costs now), we went here



The Skylon Tower. As this post relates to fear of heights, I had no problem going up and down the tower in the glass-windowed elevator. In fact, Dad and I had loads of fun taking the piss out of Mom because her fear of heights is greater than I've seen in anyone else.

Yes, us Vickers boys have been known to be mean at times. I get it from my dad. He cracked a hockey stick over his brother's head once, just over a fun game of shinny.

Anyhow...

What did scare me at Skylon was, in the basement, there was a small amusement area, with a ferris wheel as the centerpiece. Well, just the sight scared the begeezus out of me. Remember I'm still five. I'm older than the majority who read my tripe, but I don't age THAT fast. Needless to say I didn't ride the ferris wheel. In fact, even on the carousel, I refused to go on a horse, opting to ride on a fixture that was just that - fixed to the floor of the ride.

Yes I'm a wimp. Well, a career move for my old man, and we found ourselves in beautiful Ocala, Florida, for a year (Mom couldn't handle the heat in the summer, and I don't blame her). And, with Florida, came Walt Disney World, and my first roller coaster,



Space Mountain, one of very few rides that had major medical warnings. And I rode it without even batting an eye. Mind you, it's all in the dark. Heights aren't the issue with this ride, but rather the major vectoral alterations in velocity that happen in such a short instance. Ahh, God I love that part of my Engineering education.

Then came Canada's Wonderland. And, probably just my dad spiting Mom yet again, ever since he took me to see Episode IV on opening day, hanging out in Downtown Montreal for 14 hours to see the flick, we went in the inaugural season, the same day Charles and Diana tied the knot (Mom is totally caught up in the Royal Family). All the rides there with heights scared the shit out of me. It took until late high school to master those fears.

But, then there's another matter. Skiing. Early in my career, I hated the lifts. Then, one day, one of few times I got to recreationally ski with friends, I decided I was going to ski all over with them. And I just decided to get on the chair. And it didn't bother me. And didn't until one fateful day, driving across Canada.

Dawn and I, enjoying Banff National Park, went up the ski hill (well, okay, just halfway) to try to catch a glimpse of some bears, a la chairlift. And I tensed right up, frozen in panic. And this is a chairlift I rode literally hundreds of times. I keep convincing myself that, because of the depth of snow, plus the askew sense of depth, makes the ride in snowy conditions, much more tolerable. Or maybe I'm too psyched to ski.

Who knows. But, as such, when I once thought I conquered this fear, this summer has made me second guess that assumption, and as such, my confidence isn't what it once was.

Before I leave you to mull this for yourselves (yes all three of you), I'm trying to work at Grouse Mountain for the winter, as the film business is too slow now for me to justifyably support myself through Vancouver's fabled monsoon season. I had to take the interview at the top of the hill, which, for the first time, that specific air tram ride did not affect me in the least. I'm hoping that being in that altitude all winter, and skiing like hell, might help rekindle that youthful sense of facing fear in the face, without hesitation, to achieve what I know I can and what I must.
neolithic pondered at 22:43
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