Friday, February 15, 2008

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

I have written about two of my phobias in past blog posts--fear of flying and public speaking. I did an interview for WZTV Fox 17 in Nashville a while back that I just found on line. I talk about what it's like to have these fears and why it's important to Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway.

You can see me here talking about my phobias here. Watch the video and then tell me what you are afraid of--if anything.



Blogger Doreen Orion said...

Hi Helen,

Phobias??? Me??? Oy.

Let's see. Where do I begin. Ah... public speaking. Used to terrify me. So much so that in college, if a professor announced a "presentation" was required, I'd drop the class. Then, my stalking book got a lot of media attention and I had no choice. (When you hear Larry King set up your segment by saying, "Next... a debate with a psychiatrist... " and you had no idea you were debating anyone, you either overcome or faint on the spot - and how would that have looked for our profession?) I've since done keynote addresses to crowds of thousands and actually very much enjoy public speaking now.

However, a phobia-free life was not to be and I developed a rather unusual "bus phobia" during the year-long trip my husband and I took around the country - in a bus. (I was such a joy to be with.) It resolved only at the end of the journey when I understood what had been underlying it. (Shrinking - even autoshrinking - works!)

So I completely agree: Feel the fear... and do it anyway.

7:51 PM, February 15, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...

Doreen Orion,

Is there something about those of us in psychiatry or psychology who have a public speaking phobia? Seems to me I know a lot of professionals who do. BTW, what is the name of your book? I would love to read it.

7:58 PM, February 15, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Landing and taking off are kind of cool. It's cruising 7 miles in the air going across country and realizing if I somehow fell out of the airplane, or the engines died, it would take better than 5 minutes to hit the ground. And not a chance of surviving. I hate to fly, about ten times a year.

Oh yeah...baggage handlers!! Airports!! TSA employees!! Not a phobia, but they don't help.

8:05 PM, February 15, 2008  
Blogger Adrian said...

I don't know it's kind of dangerous advice. I was always afraid of public speaking. In fact, I was profoundly shy and aloof as a child. So, without even any psychological counseling or anything, I figure out that I just need to jump in. "Screw it up beyond all recognition if you have to but you have to actually do SOMETHING!" That's what I would tell myself. And it worked! I got to the point that as a math geek I really wanted to conquer any geekery or people skills issue I might have. And, I pursued it with a dogged relentless determination.

And, now that I work in a real social business environment, having conquered any possible fear of social inadequacy I may have ever felt I had, you know what I have found?

I should have stayed in my shell -- social skills are way over-rated and being outside your shell is largely a nuisance that takes far too much work all just to shed what little privacy a person has these days.

8:16 PM, February 15, 2008  
Blogger Doreen Orion said...


Could be. Most people in our profession also seem to be terrified of testifying in court. (As a forensic psychologist, I wonder if you find that more or less difficult than other public speaking?)

Not sure if you mean my stalking or bus book. My stalking book is I KNOW YOU REALLY LOVE ME. (Gee, Helen. Thanks for the plug!) If you email me privately and send an address, I'll be happy to send you one as an appreciation for how much I enjoy your blog.

My bus book is QUEEN OF THE ROAD (ditto!). My publisher gave me the promotion from Long Island Princess - I would not have presumed, I assure you. It's coming out in June and is a much more light-hearted memoir about married shrinks on the road.

8:27 PM, February 15, 2008  
Blogger Jeff Y said...

Helen, your mega-babe reputation is fully deserved.

I had a terrible fear of heights. By itself, the total immersion approach didn't work for me, though. I used Frankl's logotherapy idea. I intentionally tried to make myself terrified of heights. Eventually I "got" the irrationality of it. Then I began to immerse myself.

Whenever, I get really scared of heights, like on a plane, I try to make myself scared. Usually, I bust out laughing at myself and the fear goes away.

8:56 PM, February 15, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

Public speaking here too. I was extremely shy and quiet; I made it through college without speaking - even somehow fulfilling the speech requirement without making a speech. Then at some point I found myself in the job of corporate trainer, mostly training small groups but also occasionally speaking in front of large groups.
Toastmasters and Dale Carnegie training helped me with my discomfort level, though I never really got over it.

I too have found that my general fears have intensified since I became a parent. Many situations that I used to take for granted - walking alone through a city, for example - now bother me. I am just in general much more tense as I go about my life in public places.

9:21 PM, February 15, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to go, Doc. Good example for the rest of us to follow.

I developed a severe social phobia when I was in my early teens. Caused me a huge amount of mental pain over the years and probably contributed to my relative lack of career progress. Much better now, but I don't feel like I ever really "got over" it. It's now more of a preference for detachment which I've learned to balance with the necessity of interacting with people. Good enough.

I also don't like roller coasters.

11:05 PM, February 15, 2008  
Blogger pockosmum said...

Ugh, I hate flying too. I didn't when I was younger. As a few here have said, I became more fearful once I had a child, but still it wasn't too bad.

After I was in a large earthquake my fear of flying intensified. I thought 'what the hell'? My first flight after the quake was hell on earth, and it hasn't gotten much better in the ensuing 13 years. I realize that the motion of turbulence must have got linked in my head somewhere with the rocking of the quake and the fear of dying I felt then. The lack of control, and having to just wait it out and hope for the best.

I'm flying more often lately, and I hope it helps. I wasn't as bad on the last flight I took 2 weeks ago.

1:58 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger RightGirl said...

Wow. Lots of people are afraid of public speaking! I never realized (then again, I never shut up...).

Fire. My biggest fear my whole life has been fire. It's the only thing that could turn my feet to stone and my bowels to water. But then a strange thing happened: My house burned down. Now I have nothing left to fear.

Like Helen, I've done the dead thing, so there's no fear of mortality - heights, flying, falling, bad neighborhoods, driving in bad weather... once you've been dead the first time, you're not so worried about the next time!


2:16 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Godfather of Practical Reasoning said...

I would like to add about the fear of public speaking because I had a terrible fear of it for decades. Now I teach about the fear.

One thing about fear is that it's due to something unknown. A thousand years ago, a community would flock together in fear when it began to get dark in the middle of the day and they look up and see the sun disappear.

Today, however, not just a community, but millions flock together in awe to enjoy watching a solar eclipse. Today we know what a solar eclipse is and it's a beautiful phenomena. One reason why Toastmasters is so powerful in reducing fear is because you become aware of and familiar with public speaking.

Additionally, public speaking is a perceived fear (not a life threatening circumstance), but we have the same conditions of real danger. That said, once we understand that our body is physically changing to prepare us physically change to fight or flight, and the symptoms, such as the queasy stomach, shaky knees, cold hands, etc.) are natural and positive reaction to danger, we are less likely to be fearful. We accept the symptoms because they are natural reactions to our perceived dangers. Again, understanding and having the knowledge of why we fear is an important start to minimizing fear.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.

Take care, Frank

2:53 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

Helen, you look lovely as always. I like the straight hair.

The think that drives me nuts with phobias is their total irrationality, and personal nature. I can't understand, personally, a fear of either flying or public speaking. Just not there for me. I don't worry about the plane because, if something happens, doesn't seem that there's much I'll be able to do about it. Public speaking I love. All those people sitting there, for at least a short while, are all miiine!

But, I have two that sort of give me the willies, even thinking about them. One is spiders. I can deal with the occasional house spider. A black widow I have to find and kill immediately if I suspect one around. That big, evil-looking monster one that lives in Australia that can kill you, I get chilly just thinking about it, and I'm not even within 8,000 miles of Australia.

The other one is kind of weird. I don't like being around water in the dark, like, immersed in water or near a pool of water or something, if the lights are out or at nighttime. It actually can make me very nearly freeze up. I think that I can link this to an actual time and place. Aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA, there's this room that goes out over the water over one of the portside propellers, and has an open pool into the water where you can see down the keel and the propeller. The room is completely dark, but the water below is lit up and has this green glow. It's a supremely eerie place, with this pitch black room, glowing green water where you can see the floor of the harbor, and this gigantic propeller below. It's one of the many spaces aboard the Queen Mary that people regularly claim is haunted.

I went there when I was a kid, and got weirded out. I think that I thought I might fall in or something, and get sucked down into the propeller if it started turning or something. The crazy thing is that I think I've gotten more weirded out over the years thinking about it, and probably misremembering it as worse than it was.

7:28 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Francis W. Porretto said...

I'm a private pilot...and I too fear to fly. Fly commercially, that is.

But I didn't fear flying until Black Tuesday: September 11, 2001.

I will not take commercial air transport ever again, unless and until the laws of this land are changed to permit air-traveling private citizens to carry firearms. Any flying I do will be with my own hands on the yoke and my own feet on the rudder pedals.

Statistics will not budge me.

7:39 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Francis you remind me that the definition of a statistician is someone who brings a fake bomb aboard an airplane to reduce the chances...


8:29 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Colin said...

I have an irrational fear of...being in Yosemite Valley.

Although I truly love Yosemite National Park and believe it to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth, I am completely and irrationally terrified that earthquakes or even minor tremors will send giant boulders tumbling onto me.

Weird, huh?

8:31 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


It is interesting how different things push our buttons. I find spiders utterly uninteresting--not scary-- and water at night, kind of nice. My phobias have more to do with being out of control--like commenter Francis above, I would feel fine if I was piloting the plane, but not on a commercial airline.

I sometimes think phobias can start as something that happened in childhood such as your fear of water etc. but I also wonder if these fears are passed down generation to generation--as a way to protect ourselves and our offspring from possible harm--sort of like Jung's collective unconscious.

I found this dream interpretation of spiders if you are interested:


At least your phobia is easy to avoid. I must say that I spent part of a summer in Yosemite and it was beautiful but the only fear I have from that experience was sleeping on the floor of a tent for a month.

8:35 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Peg C. said...

I have a lot of phobias and avoidance mechanisms in place to deal with them, too numerous to mention and this post brings them all up. Yikes! My newest phobia is being stuck in traffic for a long time with no bathroom...because that happened last spring during rains and floods while we were trying to get to Newark for a flight. We actually missed the flight. I hate everything about flying anymore (didn't when I was younger) but I truly have a fear of being stuck in traffic. It makes going distances a real psychological struggle for me.

At least I was a psych major so I do understand the genesis of my phobias. And yes on the spiders (my brother tortured me with them!).

We're each a mess in some way.

8:56 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger HeatherRadish said...

My biggest fear is being out in the woods alone and finding a dead (human) body.

I've gotten over the fears of wild animal attack, breaking an ankle and dying of exposure, etc, but whenever I go out, I'm hoping I don't find any dead bodies.

It's not entirely irrational--people find missing hunters who died of natural causes as well as murder victims fairly regularly in out-of-the-way places, but it's...odd.

9:03 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

I've always feared being punched in the face.

You've inspired me.

I'm off to the Golden Gloves gym next week, hoping Ace Miller will take on a 46 yo beginner.

9:04 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Reno Sepulveda said...

I'm afraid of screwing things up. Is there an official phobia for that? And can I get a medical marijuana prescription for it?

9:15 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

Helen, thanks for the dream interpretation. I'll have to consider it a bit. I don't dream very often (or don't remember the dreams, I guess. We all dream, they say), too deep a sleeper.

In terms of generation to generation, that's interesting about the spiders. My grandmother is originally from Australia, Sydney actually, which is where the big nasty funnel-web I mentioned lives. She was always buggy about spiders, you aren't even supposed to talk about them around her. She told me once that, growing up down there, you just learned to get a little crazy about buggy or crawly things (a fair number of which can kill you).

9:16 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Bruce said...

Along with more common fears, I fear leaving a car door open and having a cat secretly enter the car and hide. I'm not sure what the technical term for that would be.

9:17 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger GM Roper said...

Too close to home Dr. Helen. As a psychotherpist, I've often had to work with various phobic behaviors of clients. I feel for them, having had a severe case of Arachnaphobia as a college student living in South Texas where spiders of all sizes and shapes are common. One of my late professors, Dr. Jennings, helped me with a short course of Systematic Desensitization.

I'm no longer petrified of spiders, but I don't see any need to keep a tarantula as a pet either.

9:28 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Cris said...

But he who trembles with fear or desire,
Fickle at heart, nor master of himself,
Has thrown away his shield and left his post,
And links the chain by which he can be led.

- Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy, I:IV

9:43 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Wildmonk said...

I have an irrational fear of leaving comments on sites such as this.

I'd like to thank you all for being a part of my program of therapy.

9:45 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Susan said...

When I was younger and had to speak in public, my lips used to quiver which added to my fear. I didn't just worry about what I was saying but that people would see my quivering lips. Which made it even worse.

Now I have a job where I frequently give talks with no fear (and no quivering lips). I think it helps getting older and not worrying so much about what people think of you.

9:50 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger scud runner said...

Oh, I've got a fear of heights. But I've been a Flight Instructor for over 30 years. If it's got wings; no problem. Mild acrobatics or the antics of beginning student pilots don't bother me much.

But a ladder...or shoveling snow off the roof...or cleaning the chimney...or putting up a new TV antenna; I'm nearly paralyzed! But I do it anyway and I'm still nearly paralyzed. My Dad, the son of a roofer and a good roofer himself, thought I was nuts.

I think it's got something to do with the degree of control you have. The aircraft cockpit combined with training and experience gives you all the control that's possible in the flight environment. Plus, you're not dependent on a fallible sense of balance. It's more of a head game as opposed to one of reflexes and inner ear perceptions.

9:53 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

Childbirth. When my husband and I were attending our preparation for childbirth classes, I knew I was afraid to do the actual labor and delivery thing, but thought that everyone was. Whenever we watched a movie about the various stages of labor and saw a woman actually going through it, I could not stop myself from crying, and had to try very hard not to sob out loud. When the lights came back on everyone else seemed completely composed and dry-eyed, and I had a wet face and red eyes and was blowing my nose. They looked at me funny.

It got worse, not better, with preparation. People noticed my reaction was, um, different than theirs. Then with one month to go, my son turned breech and I was scheduled for a c-section. I have never been so happy in my life.

I thought it would get better when I was pregnant with my other son, but even looking at a book with pictures of laboring women did it to me. I talked to my OB about it, and he said, very gently, labor is "no day at the beach", but that he knew from his experience that when the time comes, a woman finds it within herself to do it. That gave me what I needed to face labor when my second son was correctly positioned on the starting blocks.

My labor, at 14 hours, was not a record-breaking time (my grandmother was in the late stages of labor for three days with my father, at home, on her bed, with a doctor who had to leave twice to go delivery other babies). But my son didn't descend, so I wound up with a c-section anyway. I won't go into my long labor story, but he's 17 and I still can't watch "childbirth" on TV, even in a sit-com, without flashbacks.

This is so visceral and untouchable that I have actually wondered if people do have many lifetimes, and if I died in childbirth before.

10:04 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger TWM said...

I'm deathly afraid of heights, but about 10 years ago I bungee-jumped 100 feet.

I still can't go up on my roof to clean the gutters though.

10:12 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Peg C. said...

One of my favorite songs is "Baby Be Brave" by the Corrs. Here's the chorus:

But baby be brave
Cause what's the point of it all?
What's the point of it all?, yeah
Baby don't blow it
Tell me what's it all for�
If you're not terrified to fail?
Are you terrified to fail?

It's not about phobias but this topic reminds me of it anyway. Great song, music and lyrics.

10:26 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger jdgjtr said...

Definitely flying. I was in the Navy for five years. After having friends get killed in a/c accidents , going on search and rescue missions at sea and not finding any survivors, picking up pieces of airplanes on land, working on the flight line and then in a civilian component overhaul shop, I know too much of what can go wrong and why. I know that a lot of pilots are ex military and that makes me trust them even less, after having poured many of them into a cockpit. Then came 9/11. Nope, no way, no how.

10:31 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Started my career as a family physician, and after a while became a psychiatrist (and am now the chief of a very large department in the San Francisco Bay area), but all my life have had a fear of going to the doctor!

There's an old joke-definition of a psychiatrist which fits me exactly: A Jewish doctor who's afraid of blood..."

With time, I seem to be overcoming it.

Jamie Irons

11:09 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Will Conway said...

Hey Helen,

I have something I'm sure you've heard of; social anxiety disorder. To all those who don't know what that is, I basically am afraid that people don't like me, even in the most silly of situations. It is basically a fear of public speaking, except... not public. Everything else is the same. It has haunted me even to go into a coffee shop for fear of the employee finding me awkward. This is something I obviously keep to myself on most occasions, and I am pleased to say it hasn't ruined my life. I still somehow have an excellent group of friends and a wonderful girlfriend. I just need to say though, living with a knot in your stomach 24/7 is tough, but it's something I need to overcome.

11:22 AM, February 16, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never had a real phobia that I've been aware of, but then again I don't lead a physically adventurous life. And while certain activities make me nervous - I'm not crazy about flying, and my clumsiness makes certain stuff like hiking and snorkeling a little more exciting than they are for normal people - I've never had anything that approaches phobia.

Until I started riding my bike on the Braes Bayou trails here in Houston, near my home. Miles and miles of wonderful and neatly landscaped asphalt trails that border Braes Bayou. Most of the trail is at street level - but when you hit Kirby Drive, the trail descends down to the level of the bayou - it's a big wide concrete sided stream a good bit below street level.

I see old people, young people, fat people, people clearly less experienced at bike riding than myself, whiz down the trail to the bayou level every day - it's a wide trail, and the trail that runs along the water is very wide too - the descent is gentle and the trail at water level is completely flat and there are no obstructions. But I cannot do it. As soon as I approach the point where the trail begins its descent, I start o tremble and hyperventilate. All I can think, all I can see in my mind's eye, is going headfirst over my handlebars and into the bayou. I can't even walk my bike down the descent and then proceed to ride along the flat trail - I can walk it, but I can't ride my bike. The shaking and trembling make it impossible.

I've never experienced a physical phobia like that. It's not life-interrupting, of course, because I don't really need to do it, but it's given me a new sympathy for people who do suffer phobias that make their lives more difficult to conduct normally.

Of course, the fact that I once fell out of the attic - by way of the unsupported insulation, through the ceiling and straight down to the kitchen floor below - is a good reminder that maybe my fear isn't a phobia so much as a realistic fear of spazzing out and really hurting myself.

11:33 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger RebeccaH said...

In April, I'll be traveling from Ohio to Texas to visit a cousin I haven't seen in thirty-five years, and to visit my parents' grave. My husband didn't want to go, so I'll be flying alone, and renting a car to drive several hundred miles to all the sites I want to visit. And I'm scared to death.

Last time I traveled alone, I flew to Nova Scotia on one weekend when air travel was so snarled, I missed every single connection and had to struggle through several airports I was never supposed to land in. One of them was Boston's Logan Airport, and three months later, the planes hit the WTC on 9/11. I've been scared of flying ever since.

More than that, when I get to Texas, I'm afraid of getting lost, or wrecking the rental car. But the tickets are nonrefundable, and the time share where I'll be staying is paid for, and there's no backing out of it now.

11:47 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Linda Rose said...

Hi Dr. Helen,

I'm now in my 60's and early on did not have a fear of public speaking. Sometime in my mid-20's I developed that fear. It has come and gone at different levels ever since. I also have "some" fear of flying even though I was a pilot in the Marine Corps during Viet Nam. This is evident on commercial flights where every little movement or sound causes me to wonder what is going on. Perhaps it is because I am not in control. I believe that if I were in the cockpit, it wouldn't be that way. I also hate ferris wheels where there is nothing in front of you (such as an instrument panel). I don't like snakes, spiders, roaches, etc. We all have irrational fears, don't we?

11:48 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


Can you get a rental car with a GPS navigator? I tend to get lost often and bought one and it's been great. And if you do get lost, it gives you a new route to find your way--so you are never really lost.


I think most of us have some irrational fear. I really believe it is tribal and served some purpose at some point but now, that fight or flight response is not as necessary, but still, not always a bad thing.

11:52 AM, February 16, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Some fears are quite rational - planes really do fall out of the sky, snakes and spiders can bite you, etc. I guess what makes a phobia is when a fear impedes your ability to do what you need to do, or forces you to circumscribe your life.

If you're a Marine, you've obviously learned not to let your fear control you, and that's the key to conquering a phobia, right?

11:57 AM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger SarahW said...

I've always wanted to visit Australia...
and never gone...
because of the spiders.

12:09 PM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Bruce said...


Spiders??? Great, thanks. I'm going to Australia in about three weeks. Nobody told me anything about any spiders.

12:45 PM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger dualdiagnosis said...

Any experts here to tell us the difference between phobias and anxieties? Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is like walking on the edge of a full blown panic attack anytime you are in the same vicinity as other people. When I was younger I set goals to overcome the fears and appear calm and be successful financially in the sales business and did. All that really happened though was the fears were jammed down so hard that at the end of every day I had to drink and use any substance available to take the "edge" off. Can you really face the fears and make them "go away"?

1:46 PM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

Doc, after reading through, it seems to me that there is or could be a connection between these phobia and some social constraints that are acceptable. So, where is the line? That is, I could argue that submerging myself into the drug culture would allow me to overcome my fear of the effects of heroin poisoning.

2:22 PM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Mercurior said...

with me its nuns, nuns wearing black, blue ones make me nervous, tv nuns if they wear black make me want to hide.

and palmhouses a type of building.. the old victorian metal greenhouses, they make me want to be sick. i cant see them, i cant go near them, heres one

i am not keen on places with no exits, if i know there is a way out i am fine, but if i am locked in somewhere i start feeling nervous. and looking to smash a way out.(once was trapped in a toilet for 4 hours and they had to get fire brigade to break me out.)

2:59 PM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


Anxiety is a symptom of a phobia--that is, you are anxious in response to what you are afraid of. Social Phobia, otherwise called Social Anxiety Disorder is a marked and persistent fear of social or performance situations in which embarrassment may occur. If one is exposed to the social or performance situation, there is an almost immediate anxiety response such as a panic attack.

You are right in the sense that a social phobia can be lifelong but the disorder waxes and wanes depending on life stressors and demands in adults. The key question is what is the serverity of one's functioning? The name of the book I linked to is "Feel the fear and do it anyway," not "Feel the fear and it will go away". The problems may be lifelong and may come and go throughout life. Although I think it is important to conquer fears that are holding one back, it is also important to weigh the consequences of your fear to your health. If you have to drink to "take the edge off" that sounds pretty bad. Sometimes, our bodies tell us with anxiety etc. that something is wrong. I used to get physically sick during graduate school every time I went to class. I forced myself through it until I got my PHD and did my post-doc. Was it worth it? No. Would I do it again? No. My body was trying to tell me that I had chosen the wrong field for my temperament. Unfortunately, I didn't listen.

I think it is important to feel the fear at times and do things anyway if it very important and the right thing for you to do, but I also think you want to listen to your body at times and really think about whether what you are stressing about is really worth it. If the answer is yes, perserverance, some therapy, meds and relaxation may be in order, if not, a change in lifestyle may be the answer.

4:46 PM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

I have a mild phobia of rats. I really only notice it when I take the kids to the pet store. I avoid the rats!

Without fear, we cannot be brave. Bravery is feeling afraid but doing the right thing anyway.

Be brave!


4:57 PM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger John Van Laer said...

Reno Sepulveda (9:15 AM)

Thanks for injecting a little spritz of healthy sass into this game of "Mirror, mirror on the wall--Who's the weirdest weirdo of all?"

5:37 PM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger dualdiagnosis said...


Thanks, I have been using my handle for a long time. Almost 5 years clean and sober now, Effexor was a miracle drug for the first 3-4 yrs, but like many SSRI/SNRI's it "pooped out" and the panic attacks came back. This topic is front and center right now, no more drugs and alcohol and the meds have worn off.

You are right that we need to balance our lifestyle with how much harm the stress can take on our bodies and mind. I really never considered that, I saw other people living their lives without that irrational fear and said "if they can do it I can do it"

Us Humans can be so strong and resilient yet so fragile, how did we make it this far?

6:16 PM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


"Us Humans can be so strong and resilient yet so fragile, how did we make it this far?"

That is the amazing thing about the human condition, that we are so fragile in so many ways but also so tough and resilient. Congrats on almost 5 years of sobriety.

You can't look to others for how to live your life. Only you personally know how much you can deal with. I lament the fact that I will never be a great speaker, a great psychologist who can deal with the worst of criminals without crushing stress, and many other things, but I have learned to accept my limits and work with what I have. You can too. Each of our bodies is different and what causes little or no stress to some causes others to fall apart. Find your balance and live within it. Part of life is learning to accept your limitations and realize that you can live a great life while living within your limits.

6:32 PM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

"....There's an old joke-definition of a psychiatrist which fits me exactly: A Jewish doctor who's afraid of blood..."

I don't get what's funny here. I don't have a problem with Jewish jokes, just don't understand what the punchline is.


Suffocating. My breathing stopping at night and dying in the night. I have taken medication which I needed to take at night and sometimes it would stuff up my nose, so I have woken up because I couldn't breathe, so it isn't out of the question.

I have a fear of being kidnapped and having my nose stuff up because I am crying or have pollen allergies (which I do), and they put duct tape over my mouth although I beg them not to, and I suffocate.

I did not have asthma as a child, but I did have surgery at 5 yrs, and I was very panicky when they put the mask on my face, for about 10 sec. until I went out.

Drowning. I will not learn to scuba, I will not snorkel. (But I love being in the ocean and bodysurfing.)

Opening my eyes underwater. Been that way always.

7:23 PM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger B. Durbin said...

Public speaking is the #1 phobia listed by people in the US— I think it's partly due to the fact that humans are very social creatures, so the chance of disapprobation creates a feedback loop in many people. Whatever it is, though, if you're phobic about publis speaking you're not alone.

I don't have ny phobias that I know of but one of the more interesting things I've done in my life that helps guard against a common fear— going beyond your abilities— was improv comedy in a good group. I never actually got cast in a performance but in three years I went from somebody who was very prosaic when it came to improv to somebody who could be wacky with the best of them. The side effects of my time weren't evident for years, but right now, for example, I'm usually the one who is totally calm and collected when things blow up at work and everybody's panicking. The network's down? Let's see what we can do with a chip reader. We need to do a major fix on three hundred files in an hour? Sure, let's see if we can get the sucker completely automated. We're on-site and the power's gone out? Heck, there's a Radio Shack down the street...

Good improv isn't about the funny; it's about the adaptability. And training in being adaptable is a really good way to feel on top of out-of-control situations. Not too different from that old psychological adaptation trick where you think through every horrible situation and plan out what you would do if the SHTF. Just a little more on the fly.

8:07 PM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger Kurt said...

Funny you should post this today. I've got a fear of driving on one of the interstates near my home that goes up into the mountains. I was supposed to drive up to go skiing with some friends today, but I just couldn't make myself do it. I don't mind going up the mountain so much as I mind coming back down, and unfortunately there really aren't any good alternate routes I might take. The problem is not so much with the interstate as the speed of the other drivers. I'd be fine if I could just do it at 55-60 miles per hour or maybe down to 50 in the steep and curvy parts that go downhill, but most of the drivers are zipping by at speeds of 70 miles per hour or greater, and I'm terrified of them ramming into me. (And then there are the trucks who aren't supposed to be going more than 55 but who sometimes have trouble controlling their speed on the downhill portions.) I've been able to tell myself to feel the fear and do it anyway in the past, but today I just couldn't summon the willpower.

11:43 PM, February 16, 2008  
Blogger caplight said...

Fear of public speaking? Never had it for a moment. The bigger the crowd the more fun it is. Ten people or a thousand--I love it. Buuuuuut put me on the observation deck of the Empire State Building and I swear the building is falling or I'm gonna jump off. I can barely watch shows about roller coasters.

12:27 PM, February 17, 2008  
Blogger DoubleTapper said...

I have an irrational fear, one that I occasionally wake up in a sweat worried about, of hearing gunfire, grabbing my gear and running at break neck speed directly toward the source, only to arrive just after it ends...


5:09 PM, February 17, 2008  
Blogger NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

Heights. Hate em. Don't mind flying much, but standing near an edge bothers me.

6:21 PM, February 17, 2008  
Blogger Memphis said...

I have the same fear of public speaking that you do. I had thought it was dimish as I grew older, but it doesn't seem to have done so. As for fear of flying, I've never had that. I've been on some rickety old pieces of crap that just happened to have wings, and I have felt nervous about the condition of the planes at times, but I have never thought of the danger as being any different than riding in a ragedy old schoolbus. I dont' know why. Flying has simply never bothered me. Even helicopters don't get to me. I flew in one over Niagra Falls. My wife refused to get in. Apparently she has a fear of heights, rather than flying, but the idea of being in a glass bubble up in the air was too much for her. I guess I can see that.

Other than public speaking, I can't think of what phobias I have. I'm sure I have plenty. I just can't seem to think of what they are.

11:42 AM, February 18, 2008  
Blogger Thor's Dad said...

Hi Dr. Helen,
Ok, I watched the clip and while your advice helped me initially, my fear of flying went up a notch seeing the footage of the planes crashing in a ball of fire!!! I literally felt my heart start racing and my palms sweat. So starting with an image of a plane is a great idea except when its crashing into the ground!

11:57 AM, February 18, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...

Thor's Dad,

I agree, that footage was frankly, terrifying. Look, it's tv news, I guess it has to be sensationalized a bit. I would have edited the video to have the plane landing safely to the ground--with soft music in the background. But then, I don't have to worry about ratings.

12:23 PM, February 18, 2008  
Blogger Thor's Dad said...

Hi Dr Helen,

Yeah, I don't get that with the media (of course I don't get a lot of things with the media)especially when it seems so obviously counter-productive to portray a helpful topic in this manner. But thanks for posting on fear issues; I boil many of my issues down to a fear of the future - despite what I do things can always go wrong because of the poor performance or stupidity of others and myself.

1:24 PM, February 18, 2008  
Blogger Serket said...

MEMPHIS STEVE - The county fair was offering short helicopter rides for $25 and I took one. I loved it and it didn't really seem like I was flying. I've never been in a jetliner.

3:04 PM, February 18, 2008  
Blogger timmiejoebob said...

Early in life I had a fear of heights. I got a job on a farm as a teenager. I was small. I had to climb to the top of the barn and crawl out across a series of 6 inch wide boards on which I balanced while throwing bales of hay from a motorized steel conveyor. The conveyor would regularly catch on the bales and toss me more than I tossed the bales. By the end of the summer I could run across those boards without fear. Heights no longer bother me.

But, high bridges do if I'm in a car or on a bicycle. I'm fine on foot. I used to live in Minneapolis. I was driving onto the I35W bridge in 1989 when I observed a 13 car pileup on a cold, icy day. That added to the fear. It became worse over the years. I always thought it was irrational - until the day that same bridge fell down. Now my fear is deeply reinforced. The anxiety starts several miles before I'm at a bridge that I know is high.

Fears can be erased through experience. They can just as easily be cemented in us.

Timmie Joe Bob

6:19 PM, February 18, 2008  
Blogger Georgia said...

Hi Helen
I found the toastmaster club near my house. I hope it helps. I tried teaching in NYC schools and failed miserably. Maybe it is a fear of public speaking or fear of people made me afraid and angry. I am glad I stumbled on to this blog.

6:48 PM, February 21, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...

Hi Georgia,

Toastmasters is good. I went for a while and it did help some. I think just doing anything to stay in practice with your speaking skills would be good.

6:03 AM, February 22, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

徵信社, 感情挽回, 挽回感情, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 捉姦, 徵信公司, 通姦, 通姦罪, 抓姦, 抓猴, 捉猴, 捉姦, 監聽, 調查跟蹤, 反跟蹤, 外遇問題, 徵信, 捉姦, 女人徵信, 外遇問題, 女子徵信, 外遇, 徵信公司, 徵信網, 徵信, 徵信社, 外遇蒐證, 抓姦, 抓猴, 捉猴, 調查跟蹤, 反跟蹤, 感情挽回, 挽回感情, 外遇沖開, 徵信, 徵信, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信, 徵信社, 外遇, 外遇蒐證, 外遇, 通姦, 通姦罪, 贍養費, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信, 徵信公司, 徵信, 徵信社

12:01 PM, February 04, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



10:25 AM, March 13, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

視訊做愛視訊美女無碼A片情色影劇kyo成人動漫tt1069同志交友網ut同志交友網微風成人論壇6k聊天室日本 avdvd 介紹免費觀賞UT視訊美女交友..........................

5:48 AM, May 20, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


3:56 AM, June 08, 2009  

Post a Comment

<< Home