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March 26, 2016
Table of Contents

1 Introduction
Acrophobia

Wikipedia

 

Acrophobia (from the , ??kron , meaning "peak, summit, edge" and , ph??bos , "fear") is an extreme or irrational fear of heights. It belongs to a category of specific phobias, called space and motion discomfort that share both similar etiology and options for treatment.

Acrophobia sufferers can experience a panic attack in a high place and become too agitated to get themselves down safely.

" Vertigo " is often used (incorrectly) to describe a fear of heights, but it is more accurately a spinning sensation that occurs when one is not actually spinning. It can be triggered by looking down from a high place but this alone does not describe vertigo. True vertigo can be triggered by almost any type of movement (e.g. standing up, sitting down, walking) or change in visual perspective (e.g. squatting down, walking up or down stairs, looking out of the window of a moving car or train). Vertigo is qualified as height vertigo when referring to dizziness triggered by heights. Between 2 and 5 percent of the general population suffer from acrophobia, with twice as many women affected than men




Traditionally, acrophobia has been attributed, like other phobias, to conditioning or a traumatic experience involving heights. Recent studies have cast doubt on this explanation; fear of falling, fear of loud noises , along with a fear of a structure being collapsed on the front, is one of the most commonly suggested inborn or non-associative fears. The newer non-association theory is that fear of heights is an evolved adaptation to a world where falls posed a significant danger. The degree of fear varies and the term phobia is reserved for those at the extreme end of the spectrum. It has been argued by researchers that fear of heights is an instinct found in many mammals, including domestic animals and human beings. Experiments using what are known as "visual cliffs" have shown human infants and toddlers, as well as other animals of various ages, to be reluctant in venturing onto a glass floor with a view of a few meters of apparent fall-space below it. While an innate cautiousness around heights is helpful for survival, an extreme fear can interfere with the activities of everyday life, such as climbing up a flight of stairs or a ladder or even standing on a chair.

A possible contributing factor is dysfunction in maintaining balance. In this case the anxiety is both well founded and secondary. The human balance system integrates proprioceptive, vestibular and nearby visual cues to reckon position and motion. As height increases visual cues recede and balance becomes poorer even in normal people. However, most people respond by shifting to more reliance on the proprioceptive and vestibular branches of the equilibrium system.

An acrophobic, on the other hand, continues to over-rely on visual signals whether because of inadequate vestibular function or incorrect strategy. Locomotion at a high elevation requires more than normal visual processing. The visual cortex becomes overloaded resulting in confusion. Some proponents of the alternative view of acrophobia warn that it may be ill-advised to encourage acrophobics to expose themselves to height without first resolving the vestibular issues. Research is underway at several clinics.




There have been a number of promising studies into using virtual reality as a treatment for acrophobia.




  • Acclimatization

  • List of phobias

  • Vertigo





  • Anxiety Disorders Association of America

  • "The scariest path in the world?" , a direct test, video shot on El Camino del Rey, approaching Makinodromo



This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Acrophobia".


Last Modified:   2010-12-02


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