A phobia of bridges

The New York Times has a short but interesting piece on people with gephyrophobia, a morbid fear of bridges.

Phobias are often described as an irrational fear, but most have a reasonable basis to them, as reflected in the fact that phobias most commonly concern things that have an element of danger or risk – such as heights, dogs, spiders or water.

However, the fear gets exaggerated so the perceived danger vastly outweighs the actual danger.

Often the disabling aspect is not the fear itself, but how people begin to restrict their lives to avoid the fear. In a sense, people can become driven by a fear of fear.

Mrs. Steers, 47, suffered from a little-known disorder called gephyrophobia, a fear of bridges. And she had the misfortune of living in a region with 26 major bridges, whose heights and spans could turn an afternoon car ride into a rolling trip through a haunted house.

Some people go miles out of their way to avoid crossing the George Washington Bridge — for example, driving to Upper Manhattan from Teaneck, N.J., by way of the Lincoln Tunnel, a detour that can stretch a 19-minute jog into a three-quarter-hour ordeal. Other bridge phobics recite baby names or play the radio loudly as they ease onto a nerve-jangling span — anything to focus the mind. Still others take a mild tranquilizer an hour before buckling up to cross a bridge.

Link to NYT article ‘To Gephyrophobiacs, Bridges Are a Terror’.

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