Surfers come for the waves and stay for as long as they can ride. Beach combers come early and watch the sun rise as they gather their trophies. Avid fishermen come for the trophies and deal with sea sickness. Those who avoid the sea altogether may suffer from Thalassophobia.
I have spent time crabbing off a pier in Oregon. I’ve hauled in salmon aboard a fishing boat on the Pacific and I’ve fed sea gulls as they pierced the air with their cries. While I loved every minute of my adventure the same cannot be said of some who view the sea with suspicion, contempt or sheer terror.
What Causes Thalassophobia
Read the news and you’ll find that giant squid are being hauled from the ocean. This phenomenon mirrors a sea creature of enormous size in the book 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by author Jules Verne. Another enormous creature makes an appearance in Moby Dick as well as Jaws. The list continues, but these are famous examples of sea terror that seeps into the hearts of many.
You may be aware that there are many large creatures below the surface of the water, but in many cases you can’t see what may be swimming around you. Swimmers have become victims of shark attacks, storms have plunged many to their deaths on the sea. Real life dangers have sunk the mightiest of ships such as the Titanic. The sea is large and can be thought of in terms of a heartless entity bent on the destruction of all who come within its grip.
The fear may rely on personal experience, the input of someone we trust or it could be linked to issues that at first glance do not seem to be related.
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Symptoms of Thalassophobia
In many cases an individual with this fear may love the beauty and tales associated with the sea, but would suffer a panic attack if brought to the shoreline. They may be able to view pictures and even commend the beauty they see, but the ocean itself presents an unbelievably large obstacle to be avoided.
Other symptoms may include…
- Air hunger
- Elevated heart rate
- Loss of control
This fear can be debilitating for those who may have otherwise engaged in social encounters on or near a beach. It is a fear that may be difficult to explain and may leave the phobic personality embarrassed and frustrated.
How to Overcome Thalassophobia
The hard truth is their may be dangers associated with virtually everything you encounter in life. Yet not everything is feared. When prudent precaution is taken even the most dangerous scenarios become manageable adventures. Yes, the sea can be dangerous, but it can also be a great catalyst for stress relief and beauty.
Engaging the help of a therapist can be an important way to manage your fear and reintroduce elements of enjoyment to what had once been an object of fear.
The fear of the sea is also referred to as:
- Sea fear