A New Fear of Flying

Release Date: September 12, 2001 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- While the use of hijacked commercial airliners by terrorists to attack the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Tuesday may leave many reluctant to board an airplane, the issue is not about flying, says Gayle Beck, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo.

"This had nothing to do with flying, it had to do with terrorism. This was an incredibly well-coordinated act that circumvented normal security. The thing to be afraid of isn't airplanes," said Beck, an expert in panic and anxiety disorders and post-traumatic problems.

"Most people who are phobic about flying are probably going to try to find ways to wiggle around getting on an airplane. But thousands of people fly without incident every day. This was a total aberration with respect to the safety of flying," she said.

"Most everyone directly involved in this tragedy perished, but a substantial number of people witnessed this, and we know that these circumstances are ripe fields for post-traumatic problems. There is a profound feeling of unrest. This isn't just situated around flying. There is a generalized feeling that we're unsafe. It redefines our world and we're not used to that definition."

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