real life sample: why am I so scarred of roller coasters

by MartinB1 min read2nd Jun 20119 comments


Personal Blog

I currently visit a theme park with some friends. There I noticed that I am highly afraid of rides that involve heights and fast moving like roller coasters. We rode a few of them, and of course nothing happened, as it is supposed to be a lot of fun. But for me it is more like a constant situation with fear of falling.

Empirically I know that the park has been around for a while, that very few accidents happen, and that there is no particular reason to actually be afraid. The park makes its money by offering its rides to many visitors, and they really seem to know what they are doing. So why am I afraid? In the past I ONCE had an issue with my non-standard height being a minor problem. But I routinely check the size of other visitors, and the rides seem to be designed in a one-size-fits-all-unisex way that works for all shapes and forms there are.

I am also somewhat afraid of heights in general, which for the most part serves me pretty well. Should I turn that off while in a theme park? Is it reasonable to not ride the roller coaster?

There is probably a design principle in rides that elicits strong reactions in the user. And I am not sure if I would want to self modify to actually enjoy the ride. But being afraid seems also pretty useless. It is not rational.


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I have mild to strong visceral negative feelings when flying through turbulent regions, although I know that the real danger is negligible. I assume that lots of roller coaster rides would train me out of that reaction (since it is caused by basically the same combination of visual and equilibrioceptional sensations as one feels on a roller coaster) and that could be a good investment, because I fly a lot lately. Once the reactions are mild enough, I expect having actual fun coming from overcoming the fear by rational thought. A good method may be to start on small and relatively slow coasters and adapt slowly to the more brutal experiences.

Also, this is related to The Mystery of the Haunted Rationalist.

Thank you for the reference. It was interesting to see my intuition take over my mind also to know where some of my breaking points are. There are some cases where training is supposed to beat intuition. I remember reading one for airline pilots in emergency cases. They had to perform a flight maneuver that seemed counter intuitive to survive. I never had such a serious experience, and I never expect to experience it. But it was a challenge to overcome my fear and just get on with the ride.

Is it reasonable to not ride the roller coaster?

The purpose of riding a roller coaster is to bond with the other people there and/or have fun. If riding roller coasters isn't fun for you and you aren't going to diminish anybody else's enjoyment, there's no real reason to do something you don't like. If you're interested in "not being the sort of person who's afraid of roller coasters," you'll have to decide how much unpleasant fear sensations you're willing to put up with to do that.

I saw it as a new experience that is available, safe and ready for a try. I do not enjoy the 'kick' of a dangerous sensation. But when I am at a theme park anyway and paid a flat fee it is reasonable to collect the experiences that present them self as long as I can stand them. Just to see what it is like. The bonding with friends was also very nice. I will not seek out theme park specifically in the future, but might go at another time with friends.

There was a freefall tower with about 2,6 seconds of free falling, it goes way faster than I imagined.

why am I so scarred of roller coasters

If you are scarred it is time to sue. (sp: Scared)

Is it reasonable to not ride the roller coaster?

I recommend riding roller coasters. I personally used to be very afraid of heights/falling/moving fast. I went to Cedar Point (usually rated the best amusement park in the world) and was able to ride the best coasters there without any wait. After riding the 40 story tall Top Thrill Dragster 10 times, I'm no longer afraid of heights at all.

ETA: Anybody have a guess why this was downvoted?

Short answer, yes.

In an amusement park, the odds of something going wrong are negligible, so if you are capable of turning off you fears, do so.

Outside of the park, use your own judgment about if your fear of heights is grounded (pun intended).

I think it is a useful ability to turn of fears when needed. I can not do this, but I have ways to sit through the events.

Wikipedia claims that the drive to the park is more dangerous than the roller coaster, which is easy to see as true, but feels just wrong.

[-][anonymous]11y -3

while the feer of rollor costars is not rational the feer of falling is quite rational studies have shown that People are born with a fear of heights. Historically a fear of heights keept us alive around objects like cliffs and i'd imagine trees as well.