This week’s C challenge was not too difficult to compile because with a looming MRI scan appointment, the fear of being confined in a confined space has gripped me for a while… For yes, I’m a confirmed claustrophobic whereby any small enclosed space prompts panic, especially if I cannot leave of my own volition at any given moment. Aside from stifling conditions and crowded corridors, lifts, tube trains and tunnels, submarines and diving bells are obvious panic inducers but other closed-in containment that I shun are light aircraft, cars with central locking, car washes, revolving doors, and lavatories with automatic closing doors! It all means that I do a lot of walking, climbing, and cunning circumvention, including avoiding voiding on journeys. In short, I travel across the network as continent as a camel.
“But you’re a psychotherapist” my doctor smirked, when I pointed out that I doubted I could cope with the supine tunnel posture of an MRI scan. “What do you tell your patients if they are afraid”
“Help them live with their fears” I lamely suggested.
We can of course delve into the unconscious to come up with a birth or pre-linguistic trauma or even a conscious loss of control, like being shut in a cupboard. Claustrophobia increases in incidence with ageing so arguably consciousness of mortality and fear of death is relevant here. Someday I may try cognitive re-wiring but still I can’t help wondering if claustrophobia should be classified as an irrational fear. After all, any animal shut in a box will try to claw its way out.
In the end I opted for a chemical cosh of Valium, the close company of my husband and keeping eyes tightly closed throughout the MRI scan – it was still a challenge!
Facts: approximately 10% of people are claustrophobic in PET and MRI scanners – so much so that newer models tend to be wide-bore or even open sit-up versions…
…That only leaves the rest of the claustrophobic conveyances to contend with!