Latest articles

The Masterson Institute
A Hole In The Soul
Dr. James Masterson MD believed that, at the core of human problems, is what he termed “abandonment depression.” I have come to see that the feelings [...]
Jet plane windshield
A Bit of Anticipatory Anxiety And How It Resolved
At Pan Am, when I was flying the old 707, the 747 was delivered to the airline. I was too “junior” on the seniority list to get a slot on it. After several [...]
9/11 September 11th image
About Airport Security
Before 9/11, airport security was a facade. Everyone in the airline industry – including and the FAA – knew that, The FAA “Red Team” was [...]
Air plane door from inside
Abstract Point Of No Return
The Abstract Point Of No Return (APNR) is an advanced concept; it is not for everybody. The APNR will deal with anticipatory anxiety, but only as the [...]
Cat & computer mouse
Memory, Trauma and Emotional Regulation
Memory can be rewritten or partially erased. Research by Karim Nader shows that when we bring a memory to mind, we inadvertently alter the memory. Here is [...]
Woman in shadow
Accepting That Safety Is Relative
One of the safest things you could be doing right now is flying. According to solid research, 3 miles on an Interstate highway puts you at the same risk of [...]
Anxious woman
Anticipatory Anxiety
Flight anxiety and anticipatory anxiety are different. We broke the code of flight anxiety years ago. For years now, we have been able to help anyone and [...]
man scared on plane
Junk Psychology
When seeking help for flight phobia, anxious fliers need to protect themselves from “junk psychology.” It is not surprising that internet advice on fear of [...]
Medieval Drawing
Anxiety And An Arthurian Tale About Sir Gawain
Years ago, the SOAR Course was an audio course on cassette tapes. When the SOAR Video Course was being put together, a few things from the audio course [...]
Is It Safe Not To Worry?
Why do we suddenly find ourselves on shaky ground when we feel less concerned about a flight? Why is it more comfortable to expect the worst than the best? [...]
worried looking man
Arousal and Fear Are Different
One of the most troublesome problems when treating fear of flying is the automatic interpretation that arousal, caused when stress hormones are released, [...]
Anticipatory anxiety is not the same as flight anxiety
In anticipatory anxiety, you imagine the future. You experience an imaginary airplane, not a real one. Stress depends upon imagination. In flight anxiety, [...]
The Cortex And The Amygdala
To deal with fear and anxiety, it helps to understand what the amygdala does and how it triggers alarms in the mind, and in the body. It monitors what goes [...]
Person scuba diving in the sky
Fear Of High Places
Truman ‘Slim’ Cummings, who started the first fear of flying course at Pan Am, observed that most airline pilots have fear of heights. This fear, he said, [...]
Neon signs
Key To Confident Flying
An anxious flier needs to appreciate how rare it is that something goes wrong in airline flying. It takes about five million flights to produce one serious [...]
Dog chasing tail
The power of the tail – or tale…
It is my view when flying, that there really isn’t anything to expect other than that your plane will get there fine. To expect anything else — [...]
Young girl with hand paint
Increased emotional development is more important than increased IQ
When it comes to children, parents are so easily focused on intelligence and learning. What is grossly overlooked is that no amount of intelligence or [...]
Man and woman on bikes in countryside
“Top-Down” Or “Bottom-Up”
• The Power Of Positive Thinking • Everyday Positive Thinking • Mind Over Mood These are books that promote the “top-down” view of how emotions [...]
Air plane climbing steeply after take-off
“It feels like the plane doesn’t have enough power to get off the ground.”
On takeoff, there is often a concern that the plane will not get off the ground. To help answer this from an intellectual point of view, consider that when [...]
GPS Satellite Navigation
When Ones Self Comes Apart
When we fly, what is it that causes the trouble? Simple. Our sense of self comes apart. When it does, we go into near-panic, panic, or even terror. Whether [...]
Pushing backup button
When author Malcolm Gladwell followed up The Tipping Point with Blink, he pointed out that people can be psychologically “primed” to interpret [...]
Phone ring tone
Turbulence And The Reticular Activating System (RAS)
The reticular activating system (RAS) is involved in controlling sleep and wakefulness. It is the key that turns the brain on or off, more or less, though [...]
People standing hand-in-hand
Group Support Or Real Change — Of Both
Getting into a fear of flying group may look like a good thing, but there is a reason why it looks good. We are genetically encoded to draw strength [...]
Depressed young woman
Having GAD — generalized anxiety disorder — is like having poison ivy. Though it bothers you, the best thing you can do is not scratch it; if [...]
Big Ben Clock (London)
Effects of Melatonin
Alfred Lewy, professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health Services University, has done extensive study of the effects of melatonin. On a visit with him, I [...]
Mind light beams
Secrets Of The Mind
Allan Schore is a researcher at UCLA. He has unlocked many secrets of the mind. His work was made possible by technological advancements in the last ten [...]
Delayed (sign)
Flight Delays
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours, I heard the announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come [...]
Hand, five fingers
5-4-3-2-1 Exercise
I would like to know how the next World Series is going to work out. I’d like to know in advance the score of every game. In fact, I’d like to [...]
Planet Earth
Remember Copernicus? He was the first to assert that Earth is not the center of the universe. His assertion was an insult to the narcissistic pride of [...]
Jet plane
10 Reasons To Be Confident About Aircraft Engines
Pilots are confident about engines. Why are they, and why should you be? First, the plane will fly find on just one. Although it is easy to worry about [...]
Hand of cards
For years, I’ve gotten emails and calls from people going to Las Vegas who find they are on some unheard of airline and want me to assure them that [...]
Room design
Mistaking What is In The Mind For Reality — Part Four
What started out as a three-part series now has a fourth part. The first three can be found in the SOAR Library or at Part One: [...]
Roulette table
The Odds
What is a person’s odds of dying due to one thing or another? Statistics may be interesting, but they don’t really change how we feel. Why? [...]
Woman pointing up
Basis For Confidence
BASIS FOR CONFIDENT NUMBER ONE You choose to fly on an airline that has been around for years, and established their maintenance and training BEFORE [...]
Airplane interior
Flying After 45 Years
An email: Tom: I just want to send you a BIG THANK YOU for all your support in helping me change my life!!! It took me 45 years to finally get on an [...]
Planet Earth lights
Mistaking What is In The Mind For Reality — Part Three
This is the third part of a three-part series. Part One: Psychic Equivalence Part Two: Flashbacks Part Three: The Missing Barrier Between Possibility And [...]
Steam Train On Glenfinnan Viaduct
Part of a Barbara Benham Article on Fear of Flying
We can be sly, we fearful flyers. We come up with all kinds of tricks to stave off those jaw-clenching moments between takeoff and landing. Superstitions, [...]
Creative sign, creative mind
Turbulence And The Mind
Fear of turbulence is a testimony to the power of imagination. Limitless imagination can be thought of as a wonderful talent. Yes, but let’s not [...]
A New Way To Look At Turbulence
First, be on guard against believing your own experience. When in turbulence, it is easy lose your ability to tell the difference between reality and [...]
Green liquid
Early in life, we all live in a world — a vastly oversimplified world — of certainty. To the young child, everything is oversimplified. It is [...]
Cardboard boxes
Cognitive Dissonance
When we first consider a situation, we may be able to look at both sides, pro and con. But, once a decision has been made, seeing both sides becomes more [...]
Airplane cockpit
Fear Of Flying – Or Fear Of Feelings?
Though we call it – thanks to author Erica Jong – fear of flying, in most cases it is fear of having a panic attack on the plane. Ordinarily, [...]
Room design plan
The Phobia Process… ‘Obsessing’ thoughts into vivid images
No matter how hard you search for something in the wrong place, you won’t find it. I’m saying that because, as kids, we were taught that if we [...]
Feel Safe In Your Car?
A new report by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety lists the number of yearly deaths per million vehicles registered. They break it down by models. [...]
Scared woman
Why Die All Tensed Up?
A reader emailed the following question. ‘I want to know why, though. Why do we fear something, but think that by fearing it, we can keep it from [...]
The Grand Canyon
Some Thoughts About Fear of Heights
Truman ‘Slim’ Cummings who started the first fear of flying course at Pan Am told me the following. He said almost all airline pilots have fear [...]
Control Means Having a Way Out
When you drive your car, if someone comes at you, you know you will hit the brakes or turn the wheel. You have a plan that you hope works; actually you [...]
Light bulb heads connected by wire
Where Do Anxiety and Panic Come From?
The autonomic nervous system that regulates emotions has two parts: one is totally mature at birth, and the other part only starts to physically develop at [...]
Worried looking man
Flying Can Become a Problem When a Loved One Dies
Nature wired us up to be calmed by being nurtured by another person. But we are supposed to learn to be calmed – not only by that person’s [...]
Tape measure showin one inch
Jets Move Up and Down Less Than An Inch During Turbulence. Why?
In a jet, you are going about about 800 feet per second. From goal line to goal line, a football field is one-hundred yards, or three-hundred feet. So [...]
Mother & Child
Development And Emotional Regulation
For some time, psychiatry has known that the pre-frontal cortex plays vital role in the regulation of emotional states. That is not new information. But [...]
Fire Alarm
Connecting Dots That Shouldn’t Be Connected
An Email: I’m at a hotel, and this morning they evacuated the building! It was about 8:00 a.m., and I was bumbling around getting ready for work, and [...]
Woman holding clapper board
Hollywood Of The Mind
A fearful flier once told me she didn’t want to worry unintelligently, and thus wanted to know when – during flight – was the best time [...]
Keeping “What If” Thoughts Separate
Years ago, I went to Venice with a friend. You may have seen St. Marks Square in movies It is a huge square with outdoor cafes, a tower, and – at one [...]
Sailing Boat
Child Development And Regulating Feelings
Though fear of flying can be triggered by a bad flight, other passengers on the same flight do not develop fear of flying. Whether one develops fear of [...]
Low cost airlines
Working For A Low Cost Airline
Posted on the SOAR Message Board I am a FO with USA 3000 airlines. October will be my 2yr anniversary Let me shed a little light on this operation. 99% of [...]
Idea head
Inside Reality Versus Outside Reality
The Following Was Posted On The Message Board . . . I’ve known I’ll be flying . . . for . . . months. I have been getting a lot of great info [...]
Airplane landing
Origins Of Flight Anxiety
Anxiety – flight or otherwise – is about our psychological makeup. Initially, we see things in terms of good and bad, because that is the way [...]
Air crew
Some Great Tips
A SOAR participant sent this hoping it would help. 1. The lights don’t dim by magic or mechanical failure, the crew does it! 2. There aren’t [...]
Therapy sessions. Male therapist with female client
When I was studying psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the Masterson Institute, Dr. Masterson directly supervised one of my cases. When in such training, [...]
Woman standing on space rocket
Learning To Deal With Reasonable Risk
Others who work with flight anxiety base their work on telling people how safe it is. Then, when there are accidents, the clients are set back, maybe [...]
Driving in bad weather
Driving Versus Flying
It has been raining a lot here in Connecticut. Tonight driving home in the rain, I was being quite careful. I started thinking about driving versus flying [...]
Baby playing with mother
Emotional Regulation: Allan Schore
In a workshop with neuroscientist Alan Schore, we were shown a sequence of photos in which an infant and its mother were playing gleefully together. One of [...]
Man holding glass of beer
Knowledge, Control, and Comfort
Knowing how flying works helps. It helps by limiting what you worry about to thing that actually can happen. Before learning how flying works, it is easy [...]
Ice Cream
Mirror Neurons: We Can Feel What Another Feels
The autonomic nervous system has two parts: one that revs us up when facing an emergency – or imagining an emergency – and one that is supposed [...]
Chocolate brownies
Twin Fears
Years ago, we realized there are twin fears that can stop a person from getting help with flying: one fear is that the help won’t work and that will [...]
Passenger on runway
Feeling Alone When Flying
Someone emailed saying they were doing great and the only better thing would be if I were flying with them. What the person didn’t understand is [...]
Pencil eraser
Erasing A Memory
The movie ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ is about the idea that when a love affair breaks up, instead of feeling pain, you just go to [...]
Anxiety And Logic
Anxiety, if it were based on pure logic, would recognize that – in spite of all the risk factors you cite – when compared with either driving [...]
Man reading newspaper
USA TODAY Article on Flight Anxiety by Gary Stoller
Gary Stoller, who writes on aviation for USA Today, interviewed SOAR grads Angel Miller, Tracy Leskey, and Marci Smith for this article.The article leads [...]
Plane overhead lighting
When the plane is parked at the gate, it is using power either from a thing we call the APU (Aux Power Unit) on-board the plane, or the plane is plugged [...]
car repair car battery
A Good Article On Airline Maintenance From ABC News
Planes are not maintained like our cars. We wait for things to break on our cars, but with airplanes, we fix things before they break. And in the rare [...]
The 5-HTT Gene
Anxiety develops because of a limited ability to regulate emotions within. If the way we are wired up inside makes us sensitive to what is going on around [...]
Child in car seat
Putting Your Child On A Plane Can Cause Anxiety But . . .
Though you FEEL safe when you put your child in a car, you are actually safer when you put your child on a plane. Feelings and reality are often not in [...]
Psychoanalysis Is Great But It Doesn’t Change Flight Anxiety
Psychoanalysis – which I’ve been trained in – is great for developing insight. It increases what we are now are calling [...]
Mother with baby
Illusion Of Safety Though Illusion Of Control
It comes down to this. When we are born, HALF of the emotional control system in the brain is mature and works fine; the other half doesn’t exist at [...]
scared, afraid child
What To Do When Your Child Is Afraid To Fly
When a child expresses fear of flying, reassurance is needed. But when the fear persists, there are other things to consider. When a child expresses fear [...]
Concerned looking man
Persistent Anxiety About Turbulence
Recently, I’ve been focusing on why anxiety about turbulence can persist. Context has a lot to do with it. In a context where you feel secure, [...]
hand hanging on rock face
Control And Anxiety
I’ve often been amazed when people don’t accept the help that it took years to develop and perfect, in preference to doing something on their [...]
fish jumping between bowls
What Is Flight Anxiety All About Anyway?
Let’s start at the very beginning. We get our ability to calm ourselves several months AFTER we are born. Calming ones self is not innate. Getting [...]
Runway landing lights
Are All Airlines The Same?
First, why should YOU choose an airline? Aren’t they all the same? Don’t they operate under the same regulations? Doesn’t the FAA insure [...]
Highway road
Flying Versus Driving
There was a dramatic increase in deaths when people switched from flying to driving in the three months following 9/11: ‘. . . from October through [...]
Woman looking anxious
What Does Anticipatory Anxiety Mean?
Here are some of the things people think anticipatory anxiety means. ‘This feeling could be an omen.’ ‘If I am feeling this much anxiety [...]
Man looking worried
Generalized Anxiety. Claustrophobia. Are These Buzzwords That Smokescreen The Problem?
This week, a client who has long been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and claustrophobia, had a breakthrough. He discovered fear. He became [...]
Woman free on beach
Free Will?
There has been increased recent attention in the question philosophers struggled with two-thousand years ago: do humans have ‘free will’? [...]
Barking Dog
Deep-Rooted Anticipatory Anxiety
Freud wrote about it, and what he said is interesting. He said, the problem with trauma is, the first time you have one, since you never had one before, it [...]
Plane flying in storm
It Seems Impossible For Some To Accept They Are Wrong About Turbulence
So what could be the reason? Imagination? If so, why does imagination trump reality when every piece of information says turbulence is not a threat? Why [...]
Plane seats
Transcript Of The Demonstration Flight
Note: the clients who volunteered to participate in this course which was video taped did NOT have the benefit of the Strengthening Exercise, which [...]
Airplane Jet
Aviation Websites Archive
WEB SITES ON AVIATION List of Airlines Where The Airline Pilots Association Backs Up Pilots on Safety Issues. ALPA (Airline Pilots Association) [...]
Woman sitting on office chair with eyes closed
Cue-Controlled Deep Muscle Relaxation (CC-DMR)
CC-DMR trains your body’s large muscles to respond to the cues you give. Your task is to consciously notice what muscle tension feels like in [...]
Boom Box
SOAR In The 1980s
In the 1980s, SOAR was the largest organization producing in-person fear of flying programs. We did them all over the U.S. When an article on SOAR appeared [...]
Small Regional Jet
Regional Jets
When people first consider flying one of the regional jets (these smaller airliners), there is always anxiety about it. One of the usual concerns is that [...]
Tetris puzzle
Keep Yourself Entertained On The Plane
Don’t depend on the airline to keep you entertained. Bring along a variety of things, a book, a half-dozen magazines, crossword puzzles, video games [...]
Two men climbing (cartoon)
Betrayal And Trust
Theorists believe it matters how early in life betrayal takes place. When it takes place early in life, betrayal is not just “no big deal” [...]
Woman with clapper board
When Imagination Masquerades As Reality
Yesterday, a client called from Hawaii. He said he was about to fly from one island to another and was having a lot of trouble. I asked him how his from [...]
Night & Day
Black and White Thinking
When we were children, we learned – as children first do – to think in simplistic ways. We learned to think in absolute terms, such as good and [...]
Smiling crawling baby
Social Referencing
Social referencing is something we all do. It refers to the tendency to look at the facial expressions others display when we are not sure what to do in a [...]
Woman looking at large bar code
The Mind’s Emotional Bar Code Reader
When you check out at the supermarket, you pass your items by an optical bar code reader. The bar code reader reads the bar code on the label of the item. [...]
The Terrible Twos: Takeoff and Turbulence
Two parts of the flight bother people most: takeoff and turbulence. Takeoff is brief, but turbulence can last. So let’s consider the kind of [...]
Black clouds
About Turbulence
Plastic Ted is a UAL pilot who frequently posts on the SOAR message board. He wrote this on turbulence. It is the best thing I’ve read to help an [...]
Head with cogs inside
Can a person have high anxiety – or panic – without any awareness of what triggers it? Yes. And, current thinking is that this can take place [...]
Excited man
What Revs Us Up and Calms Us Down
The autonomic nervous system has two parts: one that revs us up when facing an emergency – or imagining an emergency – and one that is supposed [...]
Trying to feel nothing
Often a course participant has a goal – consciously or unconsciously – to “feel nothing”. It may be because that is what they incorrectly imagine “normal” [...]
Woman looking concerned
Seven Levels of Arousal
There is a useful map to our emotions called “The Seven Levels of Arousal”. This is from a researched named Als. A road map helps understand [...]
Books & Reading Glasses
Welcome to the SOAR Library
We’re currently working on a new SOAR Library.  In the meantime, please visit the current SOAR Library