more about airport security

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more about airport security

Post by cymbalta on Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:02 pm

following my post on thursday.

Since the failed Northwest Airlines bombing attempt of Christmas Day 2009, full body scanners, behavioral profiling and other enhanced measures are a new reality in many airports. The list of possible phobia triggers is nearly endless.

Social Phobia
Social phobia was triggered by flying for some individuals even before the September 11 terrorist attacks. After the attacks, ramped-up security measures caused longer lines and more invasive security screenings. The addition of full body scanners and behavioral profiling makes many people with social phobia feel that they cannot fly at all.

Sexual Phobias
People with sexual aversion disorder may fear sexual intercourse itself or even touching of any kind. And though others may not be diagnosed with a sexual phobia such as this, many still experience phobic reactions when being touched or having their bodies exposed. Full body scans allow screeners to look underneath a person's clothes, and pat-downs may not be a viable alternative for obvious reasons.

Phobias Related to PTSD
Those who have lived through a traumatic event are at increased risk for mental health disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and phobias. Symptoms of both disorders often increase during times of renewed trauma and stress.

Some experts, including noted security specialist Bruce Schneier, believe that so-called "security theater" (which includes the use of full body scans) is designed to enhance fear and vigilance. The culture of fear can induce feelings of panic and anxiety even in those who do not have phobias.

Medical Phobias
Hypchondriasis and nosophobia are two sides of the same coin. Many people with either disorder avoid medical care for fear that an illness will be diagnosed.
The full body scanners greatly resemble medical equipment. Although you rationally "know" that the scan searches for contraband, not diseases, phobias are by definition irrational. The mere presence of an object that looks like a medical object might trigger a phobic reaction. A pat down may feel too similar to a medical exam.

Aerophobia, or fear of flying, can be caused by many factors and is often linked to other phobias. Regardless of the cause, many people with aerophobia begin having symptoms long before they actually board the plane.

Enhanced security measures mean even longer waits and more invasive screening procedures. A barely-managed phobic reaction can become intolerable during an extensive screening process. Full body scanners and pat downs increase the belief that flying is not safe, which can further enhance anxiety.

Agoraphobia is a complex disorder rooted in the fear of having a panic attack in a place where escape would be difficult or embarrassing. The fear of having a panic attack while undergoing security screening could trigger agoraphobia.

Behavioral Profiling
At the heart of many people's concerns with enhanced airport security is the concept of profiling based on behavior. TSA screeners look for reactions of fear, surprise, anger or contempt among the traveling public. Those who fit a specific behavior profile may be detained for additional interrogation.

Common symptoms of phobias include shaking, flushing, heart palpitations and finger tapping or other nervous tics. Many people with phobias have trouble speaking coherently, answering questions or logically responding to conversational topics when subjected to their object of fear. Verbally lashing out is not uncommon.

There are several steps that you can take to minimize anxiety while continuing to travel. The most important step is to treat the underlying phobia. Treatment options include medications and a range of talk therapy styles.

Planning ahead can help minimize stress at the airport. Here are a few suggestions:

Visit the official TSA website shortly before your trip to find out what you can carry on board the airplane.

Travel with a companion whenever possible, preferably someone who is familiar with your phobias and coping techniques.

Try to avoid practices that increase your likelihood for secondary screening, such as paying cash for a one-way ticket or changing your travel plans at the last minute.

Decide in advance whether you would rather undergo a full body scan or a pat-down.

Work on breathing techniques and other anxiety-lowering exercises.

Allow plenty of time. Bring a book or magazine to pass the time after you clear security, or plan a reward for yourself in the "sterile area" (TSA-speak for the area past the security scanners).

Talk to your doctor about your concerns. He or she may be able to prescribe a mild sedative. Avoid self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. Eat small meals and drink plenty of water.

Traveling with a phobia is never fun, and enhanced airport security measures can increase your discomfort. Preparedness is the key to successfully flying despite your fears.

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