Fear of Heights
Acrophobia is from the Greek word meaning "summit" It is an extreme or irrational fear of heights. Traditionally, acrophobia has been attributed, like other phobias, to conditioning or a traumatic experience involving heights. The degree of fear varies and the term phobia is reserved for those at the extreme end of the spectrum. More than 26 million Americans suffer from some form of phobia and out of the 200 that have been identified (although I am sure that I have seen many with phobias that have not been identified in studies), fear of heights is the most common.
If you suffer from this phobia it can trigger increased heart rate and respiration, and your body temperature may also rise. You may become dizzy or nauseous, and you may feel faint or tremble. Mentally, you perceive the situation to be far more dangerous than reality, and so your body reacts with the “fight-or-flight response” typical in any threatening situation.
Phobias can disrupt your life in subtle ways as well.
A fear of heights may cause an otherwise aspiring executive to decline a promotion that would involve an office on the tenth floor. Trying to save a cat from a roof or putting up outdoor Christmas lights up would be impossible. Even standing on a chair to change a light bulb may cause anxiety.
I had a client who had a fear of walking past tall buildings and although it didn’t represent itself in a fear of heights it actually stemmed from falling from a height that had been completely forgotten. She was so afraid of walking near tall buildings that she lived in the country and was afraid to go to the city. She would also not go in a building that had more than two floors.
In age regression she went to a memory of when she was a little girl playing at being beauty queens. Her friends had put a chair on top of some boxes for a makeshift throne. As she sat on this wobbly pretend throne, the chair tipped over and she fell hard and hurt herself. This resulted in her phobia of tall buildings and heights. She was cleared of this irrational fear and went on to work in a city in a multi-story building.