Phobia Series: Acrophobia or Fear of height

Acrophobia or fear of height

Acrophobia is the fear of height. This fear can be triggered simply by the thought of a void or its evocation during a discussion. Acrophobia should not be confused with feelings of vertigo, which can be related to physical problems such as inner ear dysfunction.


Acrophobia is the fear of the void and heights. This phobia is shared by both men and women. It should be noted that there are also many teenagers who suffer from fear of height.

The acrophobic person avoids all situations in which his or her feet are likely to leave the ground. This can be the case when visiting a monument in height, or practices such as skiing, parachuting … But acrophobia can also be triggered in more common situations and become a real handicap in everyday life: inability to climb a ladder, a stool, or simply go on a terrace. When the phobia is highly developed, the subject may have permanent sensations of imbalance with joint tensions linked to permanent hyper-vigilance or suffer from spasmophilia.

Most of the time, acrophobia has its origin in an old trauma; often the risk of a fall in the void during childhood.

To fight against acrophobia, psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral approaches are recommended.

Possible sources of fear of height

Acrophobia can be the result of an old trauma. Often it is the risk of a fall into the void when one was a child (during a walk in the mountains, for example), which is inscribed in the heart of the unconscious and reappears in the form of avoidance of the initial trauma.

Physical, psychological and behavioral consequences

The acrophobic person, like any phobic person, will tend to avoid visiting high buildings, skiing, hang-gliding, parachuting, but also more everyday situations such as discussions on a terrace for example. But acrophobia can go so far as to make it impossible to climb a ladder or a stool. As soon as the possibility of leaving the safety of the ground and feeling one's feet let go of contact with it, acrophobia becomes active and quickly becomes unbearable.

Physically, acrophobics can develop permanent sensations of imbalance with joint tension due to constant vigilance. Acrophobics may also suffer from agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) or aviophobia (fear of flying) and have associated spasmophilic disorders.

Possible treatments for acrophobia

Cognitive-behavioral approaches are very effective for phobias in general and for this one in particular.

Psychotherapy is also recommended to cure fear of height. It allows to go back to the source of the trauma and to help the subject to find simple cognitive means to relativize and de-dramatize the phobic situations (potential source of phobic activation)

Famous acrophobic

In Alfred Hitchcock's famous film Vertigo, the hero, a former police officer, Scottie, is a victim of acrophobia.

Phobias associated with acrophobia

Fear of height: altophobia

Fear of the mountain, of places with slopes: orophobia

Fear of climbing high: catapedaphobia

Fear of heights: bathmophobia, kenophobia

Fear of precipices: cremnophobia

Fear of crossing bridges : gephyrophobia

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