Phobia: New Series Goes Inside the World of Fear

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One of those profiled in the series is Wendy Black, who has had a lifelong fear of heights. Her fear was strong enough to keep her from climbing the slide at the playground with her children when they were small.

When viewers first meet Wendy, fear shapes her daily routine, paralyzing her at the top of a tall escalator or long flight of stairs. "It's the fear of falling, even though I know it's ridiculous to feel that way. I freeze—I can't move my feet," she says.

"It affects your self-esteem," she says, "to be afraid when everybody else is going [somewhere]. I feel bad about myself if I'm staying behind."

One of Wendy's sons recalls a hiking trip when the family came to a small bridge without handrails. "My mother insisted that we crawl across it because she was afraid we were going to fall off," says Mori Black.

With Antony's help, Wendy Black is fighting her phobia.

Using an approach known as cognitive therapy, Antony guides Wendy through the process of climbing a small ladder, a situation that in the past would have triggered her fear.

Eventually, Wendy rides to the top of Toronto's tall CN Tower. She even rides ten stories high in an open-air cab along the side of a skyscraper.

Phobias versus Fears

Phobia looks at the difference between normal fears and phobias. Experts discuss why some people relish a good scare while others are overwhelmed with panic.

The episodes feature "antiphobes," people who relish situations that would be terrifying for phobics. Many of these people are workers who regularly face danger on the job, such as firefighters, high-rise construction workers, scientists who study snakes and spiders, and a photographer who specializes in recording lightning.

Also included are harrowing tales from people who have survived situations that would terrify anyone, phobic or not: victims of collapsed buildings, lightning strikes, plane crashes, and venomous snake and spider bites.

The first episode in the series highlights ophidiophobia, or the fear of snakes.

Phobia premieres on Monday, September 30, at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel. Check your local TV listings for details.

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