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Acrophobia is defined as having an extreme fear of heights. This could be anywhere from ladders, to as high as parachuting; they all induce that intense reaction. Throughout my life, I have tested this phobia but managed to fail more than succeed. I decided one day, to make an attempt and overcome this fear, by going rock climbing. I started off strong, looking up and making my way towards the top; until the very moment I looked down.

Looking down and realizing how high I was in the air was crazy; worse was having to come back down. I for one, did not trust the individual who I was hooked on to, and being told to “sit back and jump off the wall” in order for me to come down did not make matters any better. The cognitive and behavioral aspect here is the intense fear of danger, the fear that the straps will not protect, me and that I will fall to my death. Not complying with their command (which produced intense fear in me) resulted in an inability to not only comprehend the situation rationally but also reject any advice because my head was not right.

Like anxiety, intense fear produces shakiness, cold sweats, verbal outbursts,s or negative panics. As I stated in my event, I was in a fog of war; I could not think properly, almost like I was paralyzed in fear; gripping the rope with all the strength that I could.

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Emotion is definitely a variable that is not lacking when discussing anxiety from phobias. Depending on the individual and how they handle certain situations, the reactions can vary. My 6-year-old brothers would scream their hearts out like little babies straight out of the womb while an older individual like myself would panic and do my best to snap back to reality while remaining calm. Searching for something to cling to would be a reaction that almost everyone has; I gave the same exact reaction to my father whenever I went on my first 6 Flags Roller Coaster visit.

Behaviors such as fear, can be learned through the process of classical conditioning. A great example would be the little Albert experiment, and how he got scared of the white rat. As an aspiring pilot like myself, I would’ve appreciated a positive reaction to rock climbing; instead, it eventually led to my fear of high buildings and made the thought of parachuting non-existent.

The two types of Operant Conditioning that are associated with phobias are positive punishment and negative reinforcement. Acrophobia is a very broad spectrum of a fear of heights. It may be from a building, rock climbing, or up on a plane. I have no fear of planes simply because I have never been punished or reinforced negatively by them. Every airplane that I have flown on was safe at departure, flight, and landing. I am always being positively punished because of my lousy attempts at always trying to face my fears. I go out of my way to go rock climbing even though it brings me intense anxiety symptoms, just so I can eventually master my reactions.

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