The Germanwings Crash, and How We Can Think About It

As uncomfortable as it is to accept, we now have to deal with the fact that a pilot locked his fellow pilot out of the cockpit and intentionally flew a plane filled with passengers into a mountainside.

Black Boxes Reveal The Cause Of TransAsia Crash

Under stress, a person may - instead of “rising” to the occasion - "descend" to the level of rote training.

Flying Is Safer, Why Doesn't It Seem Safer?

In the 1990s, a study showed that aviation was growing so rapidly that, unless safety grew faster, a crash would occur someplace every week. Would the public believe flying had become unsafe?

Is the AirAsia Crash a Replay of Air France 447?

Until the “black boxes” are found and studied, we will not be sure of the cause of the AirAsia crash. However, two pieces of information point to a replay of the Air France Fight 447 crash five years ago when the plane's speed system malfunctioned.

Fear of Flying's Common Core

Why is the cure of flight phobia like peanut butter? If you have a jar of peanut butter, you can spread it on as many crackers as you like. If you have a supply of genetically based calming, you can spread it on as many anxiety-producing situations as you can come up with, in flight, or elsewhere.

Best Ever Articles On Overcoming Fear Of Flying

Expect some surprises. The therapy most commonly used for anxiety on the ground falls short in the air. Anti-anxiety medications can backfire and make things worse. Breathing exercises - almost universally recommended - do nothing according to research. But, there's good news: the problem can be fixed.

Breathing Exercises: Counterproductive for Flight Anxiety

Almost every article by psychologists on flight anxiety recommends the use of breathing exercises. Why haven't these professionals looked at the research?

Pilot and Blogger Patrick Smith Sets The Record Straight

A top blogger and airline pilot takes William Langewiesche to task for "the most asinine and misleading characterization of an airline pilot’s job that I have ever read in my life."

Branson's Folly

The normalization of narcissism may be the result of an explosive growth of internet media outlets in which the more excessive - and thus the more pathological the narcissism - the more the person is showered with what narcissists want most: attention.

Does Fear Keep Us Safe?

Xenophobia is not just a phobia. It has grown to become a religion subscribed to by about half of us. To determine what makes us safe, we need to separate what makes sense from what is sheer phobia. (Photo of Roberts Field, Liberia, by Patrick Smith)

Is Fear of Flying Really Irrational?

It is often said that fear of flying is irrational. This implies that a person who thinks rationally would not fear flying. Yet, is it rational to have no fear of something truly awful, even though the chance of it happening is extremely low?

Could a Virtual Reality Helmet Stop Fear of Flying?

A movie or video game can help push anxiety aside.The amygdala stays on guard. If it reacts to turbulence, anxiety returns.

Fear Of Flying Often Begins With Becoming A Parent

Flight phobia frequently begins late in pregnancy. According to research, as the expectant mother approaches delivery, the brain is flooded with hormones that cause her to become obsessed with safety. This, apparently, is nature's way of providing a safe environment for the infant upon its arrival.

Anticipatory Anxiety And Reframing

Anticipatory anxiety is not the same as flight anxiety. In anticipatory anxiety, you imagine the future. You experience an imaginary airplane. Stress depends upon imagination. In flight anxiety, you perceive the present. You experience a real plane. Stress depends upon the amygdala's reaction to the the plane's movements and noises.

Arousal and Fear Are Different

One of the most troublesome problems when treating fear of flying is the automatic interpretation that the feelings caused when stress hormones are released mean danger. Perhaps this is because stress hormones produce an urge to escape.

Is What You Are Feeling A Flashback?

New research indicates that past trauma can cause a stress response even when no memory of the traumatic experience is present. It also suggests that therapists need to recognize that stress can be caused by unconscious processes - not just by thoughts.

Anti-Anxiety Medication and Flying

Using anti-anxiety medication to reduce flight anxiety backfires. Anti-anxiety medications prevent anxious fliers from getting used to flying. They increase the anxious flier's sensitivity to the plane’s noises and motions. They impact the person’s memory and ability to learn. They cause psychomotor impairment. And, they are addictive.

Is It Safe Not to Worry?

When we search for the cause of a traumatic event, we look at what was happening just before calamity hit. Maybe what was going on just before it happened is what caused it. Just before it happened, we were happy and relaxed. Eureka! We have figured it out: failure to worry causes calamity.

Accepting That Safety Is Relative

If a situation isn't safe enough, we need to be in control, or able to escape from it. But, what if we can't control or escape? How safe does that situation have to be?

How an Anxious Flier Can Recognize and Avoid Junk Psychology

Courses sponsored by major airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic promote the same inadequate “tools” used in 1975 by Captain Truman “Slim” Cummings in the first fear of flying program at Pan Am. The situation is no better at your therapist's office. What's an anxious flier to do? In fact, what's an anxious flier who is a therapist to do?

The Lost Airliner and Our Fear of Flying

As this event was being discussed on the SOAR Message Board and on the SOAR Facebook page, I didn't initially realize why it was causing so much distress. Then, when someone on the message board asked why some sort of data link did not give us information about the plane's disappearance, I realized the distress is about the absoluteness of the disconnection.

Why CBT Doesn't Stop Anxiety

Can we extend CBT to include right brain logic? If we can expand our understand and our practice of CBT, we may be able to use it to treat right hemisphere anxiety.

What Does It Mean When Passengers Are Injured in Turbulence?

It happens again and again. A plane hits severe turbulence. Passengers and crew members get injured. Though passengers wearing a seat belt are safe, they may not feel safe. What can you do to feel better when you fly? Can technology help?

More on Cognition and Control of Anxiety

We can tolerate much more uncertainty if we have an "out" than if we have no way out. Though everyone knows flying is safer than driving, it doesn't feel safer. Why?

Why CBT Can't Regulate Anxiety

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy tells us that feelings are based on our thoughts. If we think right, we will feel right. Too bad it just isn't true.

Desensitization Works For Other Phobias. Why Not Flying?

For most phobias, systematic desensitization, developed by Joseph Wolpe, can be used to gradually expose the amygdala to a phobic situation. By gradual exposure, the amygdala becomes accoustomed to the situation and stops responding with the release of stress hormones. Another type of desensitization, flooding, repeatedly exposes the client fully to the situation.

How Therapy Uses Object Relations To Quell Anxiety

Various forms of therapy seem so different in theory and practice. How, then, do they produce such similar results? Could relationship be the common curative factor?

Borderline Personality Disorder and Anticipatory Anxiety

When planning to fly, an emotionally dependent parent can make separation difficult if not impossible. What is the dynamic involved?

In-Flight Emotional Regulation—The Basics

If you could fly in the cockpit, the captain's face would provide assurance that nothing is amiss. In the cabin, a face can also control anxiety. But the reassuring face needs to be linked to the challenges of flight ahead of time.

Unconscious Signals That Calm

Research by Stephen Porges, Ph.D., has shown that unconsciously transmitted and received signals can slow the heart rate. This in turn activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Additionally, if the chemistry is right, a face can shut down the fear system down completely. By tapping into this discovery, we can establish automatic regulation of anxiety.