Thursday 25 December 2014

The Psychology: How the fate of Flight MH370 feeds into our irrational anxieties

Published 23/03/2014 | 02:30

Malaysians hold candles during a special prayer for passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at the Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur

A specialist in dealing with flight phobia said it was the uncertainty over what happened to the Malaysian plane that has caused huge public anxiety.

In an article in Psychology Today, airline pilot Captain Tom Bunn said what bothered people in the days after the plane's disappearance was that there was "no explanation, no clues, no radio transmission, no sign of the plane's crash site, nothing".

He said: "Fear is about something specific, and anxiety is about the unknown. If we have a definable target we can do something about it. Doing something is one of the ways we relieve anxiety. We can avoid it, fight it, or escape from it. We can't avoid, fight, or escape the unknown."

Captain Bunn said we struggle to accept an information void.

"Why is it so disturbing? It resonates with times as a child when something went terribly wrong and there was a complete disconnect between us and the people we needed and depended upon.

"For a child, a complete disconnect is too awful to endure, so he or she shuts down."

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