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2669 Views 19 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  maria
This is slightly off topic so move me if appropriate -

One of my stubborn symptoms is claustrophobia. Planes, tubes and elevators freak me out. I have avoided tubes and lifts for a few years. Can't avoid planes as I refuse to give up holidays! But the claustro stays the same each time so exposure isn't helping. Does anyone know of any type of therapy or a book, or ANYTHING at all that can help me work through this?

I understand that phobias are symbols of our fears etc, are there any direct approaches to sorting it out? I know it wont go over night but I refuse to be limited like this. And have decided now is the time. Anyone else with phobias here?
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I probably have severe claustrophobia. I too feel/felt that it has symbolic attachment to it, for there are many areas in my life where I have an uneasy feeling of being trapped, such as relationships, jobs and even some committments. Anyway I went to a therpist one time who said forget the symbolism and go expose. Well, the phobia was too great for me so I backed off. It has gotten worse. It started about 14 years ago, I think the trigger was a major dr episode in a hospital hallway. Soon I could not ride elevators, then planes, or get stuck in traffic etc. It soon became attached to any place, no matter what, where I do not have an escape. This includes sitting in the middle row of a theatre e.g. My life is limited becasue of it, I am always on guard. It is not a fear of death, it is a fear of being trapped and the resultant panic attack that occurs.

All I read says exposure is the key. Exposure never has worked for my dr, and that is why i question whether the dr makes this phobia a little tougher to bring down. Whatever you do, I would do it now before it expands on you. please let me know how you do. It is funny becasue I used to be a companion/helper for agoraphobics when they were doing exposure. I would fly with them and ride elevators with them all day. No problem. Grab a friend if do exposure. Makes it nicer.
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Sc. That is my reflection as well. When in an elevator or plane, the thought is never crashing or dying, it is only the entrapment and no escape that starts the panic going. It is the fear of fear I guess. My agoraphobic friend jsut thinks I am like her. But yet I can travel around the world if I wanted to, cross bridges and go shopping all day, things she has huge problems with. Can't be in a train, plane or bus though, becasue I need that exit in my "control".

Makes one wonder, Janine, why CBT people laugh at us when we go in and want to weed out the general causes or look at the bigger picture or explore the constellations. They say "exposure and habituation or get out of here, do not waste my time". And it works for many, even folks who are not specific phobic only.
But I have always asked if this type of therapy is only an end that justifies the means. Squashing avoidance in behaviour does not touch the other areas, if they indeed exist. You say they might, CBT people say if they did it does not matter. I have tried often with various therapists to explore those areas but for the most part have been refused, they do not want to talk about it. You call a clinic for an appt., the nurse asks your symptoms, and you are automatically referred to a specialist in anxiety and he/she is almsot always a cbt least in the region I live. I know this is all nothing but the differing schools of thought arguement, but I wish it was more evident as what is best for treatment.

I find it real interesting that so often the answer to our dilemnas is just to face them, don't avoid. Sheldon Kopp spoke of this when he said that eventually we all realize that our neurosis don't really work so we might as well face them now. I think of the movie "Pawnbroker" where Steiger stuffed his images of his concentration camp experience so far away that he could not feel but eventually it nailed him. I think of my avoidance of closed spaces and how it has gotten so much worse over the years. And I think of psychological defenses in general where we jsut delay and trick reality.(dp/dr?) Yeah, I guess that is the word, reality, you are right. Courage and acceptance of it. Endurance to get you through it. But understanding of it all comes just as hard. It is the understanding I need to make everything else happen.
Sorry, got long.
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