Fear Of Heights(Acrophobia ): Causes, Symptoms, Consequences, Treatment

The fear of heights or acrophobia , is a fear that can be triggered simply by the thought of emptiness or its evocation during an argument. Acrophobia should not be confused with feelings of vertigo, which can be related to physical problems such as inner ear dysfunction.


  • This phobia is shared by both men and women.
  • It should be noted that many adolescents also suffer from acrophobia.
  • Acrophobia can come from old trauma.
  • Often it is the risk of a fall into the void as a child (during a walk in the mountains for example), which inscribes itself in the heart of the unconscious and reappears in a way to avoid the initial trauma.


People with this disorder have the following symptoms:

  • Collision
  • anxiety ; anguish,
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Vacuum sensation

Physical, psychological and behavioral consequences

  • The acrophobic, like any phobic person, will tend to avoid visiting a monument in height, skiing, hang gliding, parachute but also more everyday situations such as discussions on a terrace for example.
  • But acrophobia can even make it impossible to climb a ladder or stool.
  • As soon as the possibility of leaving the safety of the ground and feeling the feet release contact with it, acrophobia kicks in and quickly becomes unbearable.
  • Physically, acrophobias can develop permanent sensations of imbalance with joint tensions linked to a continuous alertness of their vigilance.
  • Acrophobic women can also suffer from agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) or aviophobia ( fear of flying ) and have associated spasmophilic disorders .

Analytical Example

  • In Alfred Hitchcock’s famous film Vertigo, the hero, ex-cop, Scottie is a victim of acrophobia.
  • Lucile is a 25-year-old woman who has suffered from acrophobia for about ten years. Despite the therapeutic work, he cannot get rid of this phobia. Therefore, he has practiced avoidance behaviors that pollute his daily life.
  • One day, while taking an elevator to defend himself in Paris, he finds himself in a glass well with the impression that he will crash to the ground. It’s total panic: feeling faint, acute anxiety.
  • But in the center of his confusion there is suddenly the image of a cat thrown from a window and crashing to the ground.
  • He manages to remember this event from his childhood: he sees his father violently throw his kitten from the top of the second floor.
  • She makes the connection. She is that kitten that is going to die crushed! With this “discovery”, he decides to return to therapeutic work.

Phobias associated with acrophobia

  • Fear of altitude: altphobia
  • Fear of the mountains, sloping places: orophobia
  • Fear of climbing high: cataphobia
  • Fear of emptiness: bathmophobia, kenophobia
  • Fear of cliffs: cremophobia
  • Fear of crossing bridges: gephyrophobia

You could also read:  Fear of Water: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Treatments for acrophobia

  • Cognitive-behavioral approaches are very effective against phobias in general and against phobias in particular.
  • Psychotherapy is also recommended to cure acrophobia.
  • It allows to return to the source of the trauma and help the subject to find simple cognitive means to relativize and de-dramatize phobogenic situations (potential source of phobic activation).

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.