The inner-ear system plays an important role in modulating and controlling anxiety. But this is not its only job. It also performs all of the following functions:
• It acts like a gyroscope, giving you your sense of balance.
• It acts like a compass, giving you your intuitive sense of direction.
• It acts like a sensory processor (or tuner), tuning in and fine tuning all of the sensory information entering the brain, including light, sound, motion, gravity, temperature, barometric pressure, chemicals, etc.
• It regulates your internal time clock, giving you a sense of time and rhythm.
• It acts like a guided-missile system, coordinating and sequencing movements (voluntary and involuntary) and thoughts in time and space.
If the inner-ear system is impaired, one, several, or all of these functions may be impaired. Under certain circumstances, these impaired functions may be further aggravated. This can provoke anxiety. If this anxiety is not adequately dampened or controlled, fear and panic may result.
But what are these “certain circumstances”?
YOUR PHOBIC TRIGGERS
Many things can aggravate inner-ear problems and trigger anxiety. These vary from individual to individual and depend entirely on which inner-ear functions are impaired. Let me give you some examples of the more common Type 3 (the innner ear) phobic triggers.
A) Balance-Related Phobias
The triggers may provoke any or all of the following balance-related “broken gyroscope” symptoms:
• Anxiety, and other related symptoms, including racing heart, sweating, hyperventilating, jelly legs, and so on
• An off-balance or off-center feeling
• Floating sensations
• Spinning or whirling sensations
• A magnetic “tug” from the ground below
• Falling• Fainting
• Tipping or swaying
When the triggered anxiety is severe or uncontrollable due to a maladaptive anxiety response, phobic behavior may result.
Balance-Related Phobias: An Example
Deborah is afraid of bridges. Notice how her description of this fear clearly reveals an underlying balance problem:
“I experience terrifying fear when I cross a long, high bridge. The flat, level ones don´t present any problems, but the other kind do. I become extremely dizzy, light-headed, nauseous, shaky, and faint. I cling to my husband´s arm and hang on for dear life. I also urge him to talk to me so that I will be distracted. Although my husband is a patient man, he does become angry with me sometimes.”
B) Compass-Related Phobias
When the inner-ear compass is impaired it can be aggravated by tunnels, wide-open spaces, shopping malls, darkness, small enclosed spaces such as elevators, airplane cabins, and other disorienting circumstances (any or all). These triggers may provoke any or all of the following “broken-compass” symptoms:
• Anxiety, and other related symptoms
• A floating sensation
• Feelings of unreality or disassociation
When the anxiety is severe or uncontrollable due to a maladaptive anxiety response, phobic behavior may result.
Compass-Related Phobias: An Example
Connie has numerous compass-related phobias, including a fear of shopping malls, department stores, and supermarkets. She explains:
“I would only shop in small stores or in department stores I knew well. Anything complicated seemed to overwhelm and consume me. It was as if I became overloaded, confused, and dizzy all at the same time. Panic would result. Once I even got lost and couldn´t find my way out of my own school library. It was as if I had completely lost my orientation and sense of direction. I panicked. I don´t think I’ve ever been so scared.”
The vast majority of phobias can be traced to a physiological problem: a malfunction within the inner-ear system! The inner-ear system plays an important role in modulating and controlling anxiety. In my blog I have further discussed these problems.