6. Fear of Flying
A highly successful businessman in his thirties consults a Provocative Therapist about a morbid fear of flying. Instead of trying to persuade him to be ‘rational’ about the dangers of flying, the therapist applauds his risk-averse attitude and points out the many alternatives to flying at his disposal.
Mike: I once had this terrible, trapped feeling on a plane.
Provocative Therapist: (I nod solemnly as to show how deeply I ‘empathise’.) Yes, aeroplanes are very dangerous places.
Mike: No, I…
Provocative Therapist: No? What do you mean no? Have you seen what happens to people in aeroplane crashes? Don’t you read the papers?
Mike: No, come on now. Aeroplanes are relatively safe.
Provocative Therapist: Safe? I advise you to look at a website called www.amIgoingdown.com to get the true statistics on this.
Provocative Therapist: Why do you want to fly anyway? There are plenty of wonderful places in England to visit! For example…
Mike: I’ve been offered first class tickets to Hawaii. It’s about possible work there, but also a holiday.
Provocative Therapist: First class, hey? A pity. Had you been a normal person this could have been the opportunity of a lifetime! But, you are only nearly normal. The Arsenal footballer Denis Bergkamp refuses to fly anywhere and look how successful he is. You too, in spite of this handicap, have been very successful, haven’t you?
Provocative Therapist: So, here is my advice. Do not fly! For a few years at least. Maybe in your forties, we can do something about it. It’s too early now; you’re too young. Later in life perhaps…
Mike: But I want…
Provocative Therapist: What you want has got nothing to do with it! You cannot fly and must not fly. Nothing can be done to change this and nothing should be done because flying is dangerous – end of story.
FOLLOW UP Mike boarded the aeroplane without any problem. In the past 4 years Mike has flown several times and flying is no longer a problem for him. He attributes this change in attitude to a single half hour session of Provocative Therapy. The session was videotaped and he watched it several times with his wife.