Saturday, June 06, 2009

Captain Tom performs a miracle

I think I've turned a corner because suddenly I feel less anxious about our trip, but there's still my pesky fear of flying to deal with. What is the most natural thing to do when you are confronted with a problem? You consult the internet.

This is what the internet has taught me: Everyone who gives fear of flying advice on the internet styles himself a "captain." Captain Tom, Captain Bill, Captain Percival, whatever. Their advice ranges from simple tricks to Freudian analysis. Apparently, my fear of flying stems from my parents' disapproval of my early thumbsucking habit, thus destroying my ability to "self soothe." (Actually, my plan to soothe myself on the plane involves reading Sense & Sensibility and playing computer mah-jong until my laptop battery dies. Or possibly having a stiff drink in the airport before we board.) Or maybe someone betrayed my trust between the crucial ages of 18-36 months. Or maybe, like most sensible people, I don't find the prospect of burning to death very relaxing.

Captain Tom says that the BEST thing you can do to overcome your fear is to enter the cockpit and meet the pilot and explain to him that you are an anxious flyer. Doing this will allow the pilot to replace your subconscious' "soother" figure. He will no longer be an anonymous voice over the loudspeaker. He will become your ersatz mother. Also, meeting the pilot and basking in his confidence will prove to you that all is well and that you can comfortably give up control to him.

Oh sure. That sounds like a great plan. Overlooking the fact that it might not be easy to gain access to the pilot, what if I do get to meet him and he's guzzling a liter of Mountain Dew while swallowing a handful of No-doze? Oh wait, no, that's truck drivers. Anyway, the thought of attempting to confess my fear of flying to my pilot is actually scarier than the thought of flying, so thank you Captain Tom. I'm cured!


  1. Well, if the embarrassment of meeting the captain and confessing you fear doesn't do it, try taking the trip by Greyhound!

    Really, there is more to it, as you know. Feelings are caused by hormones. The feeling of fear is from release of stress hormones that rev you up to the point of panic. There are also hormones that can shut down the fear system.

    The trick is simply to link each moment of the flight (in practice days before a flight) with a moment in which the calming hormones were flowing. Then, when flying, flight triggers calming instead of stress hormones.

    That's more Pavlovian than Feudian.
    Give me a call. I'll show you how to do it.

  2. How about a little aromatherapy.
    Bath and Body Works has a roll on tube of eucalyptis/spearmint that is good for stress relief. You put it on your pulse points and breathe it in occasionally.

  3. I'm snickering trying to imagine you going to talk to the captain. Take that stiff drink and play the mah jong. The start of the flight is the worst.