Scared of heights? How virtual reality can help people overcome their phobias – CBC

Fay Nugent challenged her phobias in a series of virtual scenarios

Jun 04, 2023

Fay Nugent’s fear of escalators had become so debilitating it was starting to interfere with her day-to-day life.

The U.K.-based project manager, 52, can remember the phobia starting as a fear of heights. She recalls being in her early 30s and on a weekend getaway with some friends.

“We decided as part of this weekend to do some adventure activities, which involved climbing up a pole and then walking out across ropes at different heights,” she told CBC Radio’s Tapestry.

When it came time to walk across the rope, however, Nugent couldn’t do it. She froze in fear. After that, whenever she was in a situation involving heights, she’d start to feel dizzy and this “overwhelming sense of concern” would wash over her.

For the next 20 years, she avoided heights as much as possible, especially escalators. Her breaking point came in 2018 when she was at an airport in the Netherlands with some colleagues.

“[They] were heading toward an escalator with luggage to go down and check-in,” she said. Nugent had to follow them but was terrified.

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