Fear Of Heights
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 of heights.
He said this fear does not show up when enclosed in the cockpit, but does in
open high places, where to fall is possible.
Because we fly all the time professionally, he said, we frequently dream
about flying. But, not all of these dreams involve flying IN and airplane.
They may not even involve an airplane at all. Instead, as in Mary Poppins,
we just dream that we are flying along without anything at all . . . just with
our body floating along over the countryside, over the city.
Dreams are fragile. Though we may have hundreds of dreams a night, we
may remember only one, or none at all. So pilots have, he says, many
dreams about flying just bodily here and there and everywhere, but we
don’t remember them consciously.
Then, when we on some elevated place, looking over the Grand Canyon
or on the top of a building, we BEGIN UNCONSCIOUSLY to replay these
delightful dreams. It starts to enter the conscious mind as, ‘Wouldn’t it
be wonderful just to leap out there and fly across that!’ Fearful of what
the leap the unconscious mind is entertaining, the mind blocks the
thought. The associated fear is not blocked, but felt.
When Slim told me this, I thought he was ‘off the wall.’ I didn’t believe it.
Then, I took my kids to Disneyworld, and went on the ride there, a ride
on a cable which takes you from one end of the park to the other in seated
in the open. And I thought about what Slim said, and sure enough, I DID
notice the feeling of being frightened, and he urge to leap out and fly
across Disney World like a superhero (perhaps some of our comics and
movies about Superman and Spyderman are tied to this). The impulse
was strong enough that I felt really uncomfortable, until I grasped the
sides with both hands to sort of promise myself I wouldn’t do it.
This made it clear to me that Slim was right. We do have these dreams.
We do enjoy the fantasy of flying like Mary Poppins or Superman. We do -
at least unconsciously - start to entertain and enjoy these fantasies, and
when the rational mind begins to see what the ‘child’ in us wants to do, it
comes down hard on the ‘child’ and is shocked that such ideas even could